Rape Culture is Yours and Mine

In addressing the question of whether rape culture is an accurate or alarmist term on his March 24, 2014 radio broadcast of Q, Jian Ghomeshi invited Lise Gotell, a distinguished scholar and chair of the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Alberta, to defend the concept; and Heather Macdonald, a research fellow at the Manhattan Institute, to provide contrary evidence.

In her opening statement Gotell argued that “rape culture” is indeed a meaningful term because it draws attention not only to sexual violence, but also to the widespread societal attitudes that trivialize and normalize sexual violence. Then for her turn Macdonald used her allotted time to reestablish archaic ideas around sexual violence and apply faulty logic to her notions.

The response has been widely critical, with many asking if it is even ethical to provide a perspective like Macdonald’s with a platform to speak.

And while it is perplexing that anyone like Macdonald would be regarded as an expert, she is not the only one to receive a platform for these ideas and fallacies. Look at Barbara Kay, a National Post columnist who openly equates feminist ideas with delusion; or Margaret Wente, of the Globe and Mail, who seems to fervently disagree with Canadian law surrounding intoxication and consent under the grounds that once upon a time such things as rape were regarded as “unfortunate learning experiences” for women.

This voice exists and by pretending it’s not there we allow it to root, insidiously, into our culture. We need to listen to the points that Macdonald recently made to the public – without any shame – and ask how we participate in someone like this having a voice.

We need to examine these claims and break them down to make sure they do not go unscathed and unchallenged, because so many of Macdonald’s ideas are worth challenging: