Rape Culture (film)

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This article is about the 1975 film titled Rape Culture. For the feminist theory of rape culture, see Rape culture.
Rape Culture
Opening Title - Rape Culture - 1975 Film.png
Opening title
Produced by Margaret Lazarus
Renner Wunderlich
Production
company
Release dates
  • 1975 (1975)

Rape Culture is a 1975 film by Cambridge Documentary Films, produced by Margaret Lazarus and Renner Wunderlich. It was updated in 1983.[1]

In January 1975, Judy Norsigan outlined how the film illustrated "rape culture", through the voices of men and women, including rapists, victims, prisoners, rape crisis workers, and the media.[2]

The film featured prisoners of Lorton Reformatory, Virginia, "Prisoners Against Rape Inc" (PAR), a not-for-profit organisation founded by William Fuller and Larry Cannon on September 9, 1973 in conjunction with women fighting rape.[3][4] The prison administration "approved" self-help status.[5]

PAR was set up after Fuller wrote to the DC Rape Crisis Centre in 1973 and asked for assistance. The DC Rape Crisis Centre had opened in 1972 in response to the high incidence of rape against women of color. Fuller acknowledged his history of rape, murder, and prison rape. He wanted to stop being a rapist. This resulted in a co-operative effort.[6]

The women from the DC Rape Crisis Centre who initiated work with PAR were Loretta Ross, Yulanda Ward and Nkenge Toure.[6] Ross has said that whilst the relationship was seen initially as controversial, it was one of the more interesting aspects of her work at the DC Rape Crisis Centre in the 1970s and 80's. In interview with Joyce Follet, Ross observed that in the work of the DC Rape Crisis centre they could bandage up women all they wanted to, but if they did not stop rape what was the point.[6] Maragaret lazarus, the films producers said of this relationship that the work was "groundbreaking".[7]

The film featured Mary Daly, radical feminist philosopher, academic, and theologian, and Author and Artist Emily Culpepper. They discussed rapism as an intellectual concept, and phallocentric morality and "its 'unholy trinity of rape, genocide and war.'".[2]

Doreen McDowell, a rape victim, talked of her experience, how sex fantasies play a part in rape, and how male identified behaviour in women maintained a "state of siege". Powerful statistical evidence, refuting rape myths, law enforcement and legislative views of rape were presented by Joanna Morris, author and statistical co-ordinator for rape crisis centres across the USA.

The film also looked closely at the mass media, how film-makers, song writers, writers and magazines perpetuated the attitudes to rape, which normalised it and even perpetuated rape myths and stereotypical behaviour around rape. Gone with the Wind, Alfred Hickcock's film Frenzy, and Hustler magazine were some of the media used to illustrate the normalisation of rape.

In describing the film, the producers say that it attempts to give real and accurate limits to rape and expand society's narrow and sexist concepts of rape.[1]

Lazarus has said of the film's title that it came from long discussion about what the film was trying to illustrate. She has also expressed the view that the film is the first time "rape culture" was used in its widest accepted sense.[7] A mention of the film in the Congressional Record in January 1978 is the first known occurrence of the term 'rape culture' in national-level American politics.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Rape Culture". Cambridge Documentary Films. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Norsigian, Judy (20 January 1975). "Women, Health, and Films". Women & Health 1 (1): 29–30. doi:10.1300/J013v01n01_07. Retrieved 11 May 2012. 
  3. ^ Fuller, William; Larry Cannon (Sep–Oct 1974). "Prisoners Against Rape". Feminist Alliance Against Rape Newsletter and Aegis: Magazine on Ending Violence Against Women. Retrieved 11 May 2012. 
  4. ^ Prisoners Against Rape (1974). "Prisoners Against Rape". Crime and social justice, Issues 1-8 1: 45–46. 
  5. ^ Anonymous Author for the Black Panther Newspaper (March 22, 1975). "Lorton Organizes Prisoners Against Rape". Black Panther. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c Follet, Joyce (2004–2005). "LORETTA ROSS". Voices of Feminism Oral History Project, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063: 122–124. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Lazarus, Margaret. "Rape Culture". Women's Studies Online Resources. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  8. ^ "RESEARCH INTO VIOLENT BEHAVIOR: OVERVIEW AND SEXUAL ASSAULTS HEARINGS BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL SCIENTIFIC PLANNING, ANALYSIS AND COOPERATION OF THE COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES NINETY-FIFTH CONGRESS SECOND SESSION JANUARY 10, 11, 12, 1978 [No 64]". Congressional Record: 676. January 1978. Archived from the original on 6 Apr 2014. 

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