Photo via Studiobaker's Flickr page

Photo via Studiobaker’s Flickr page

In an essay for Medium, Adult Magazine editor Sarah Nicole Prickett argues that we should rename the term “rape culture,” which has been used on blogs, in articles, and in every day conversation to categorize everything from unwanted attention and street harassment to sexual abuse and assault.

According to Prickett, the term, which seeks to explain how a myriad of factors, cultural practices, and attitudes leads to the sexual objectification and abuse of victims (both male and female), has been so watered down it’s time for a new name.

Her suggestion? Dick culture.

She writes:

Many bourgeois living-room feminists—from Susan Brownmiller to Jill Filipovic—believe that all rape is about power and not about sex. Contrarians, like Paglia, argue back that it is a primitive sexual act. Rape may be a sexual act, but much of consensual sex, too, is about power, and in any case I am not interested in what motivates a rapist. I am interested in what permits him.

One answer to this is “rape culture,” a term that, as the journalist Denise Balkissoon has pointed out, seems to cover everything from insensitive comments to the cover-up of rapes in the U.S. military to the sale of child brides in Afghanistan. But no matter how many Americans are murdered every year, and no matter how many times we say we “could just kill that guy,” we don’t talk of “murder culture.” We talk of “gun culture.” Accordingly, when we talk about rape, we should rage not against “rape culture” but against “dick culture.”

When I say “dick culture,” I mean: The inordinate pride men feel in owning and wielding their dicks. The idiotic contests they hold to see whose dick is more powerful, can shoot off harder, go farther. The way both men and women will say “he was thinking with his dick.” The spasmodic reaction of a dick-bearing man when one suggests that, given the yearly number of dick-related injuries per capita, the use of his dick should be restricted. Every man with a dick believes he is a responsible dick-owner. Dicks don’t kill people, he says. You can’t take away our dicks. Yet there are always so many “accidents!” I am no handmaiden to the nanny state, but you have to admit: a ban on dicks seems like the most pragmatic solution.

While I understand her sentiment, I’m not sure a simple renaming will result in a drastic shift. Nearly 240,000 people will still be sexually assaulted every year, men and women will continue to be harassed while they attempt to move through the world unmolested, and the majority of survivors will never see their rapist convicted of a crime (peace to R. Kelly).

No matter what we call it, rape culture by any other name is still horrible.

What do you think, Clutchettes? Should ‘rape culture’ be renamed?

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  • Her suggestion is both novel and unrealistic. We will never have enough social change to re-wire our patriarchal society placing the onus of rape where it belongs: with men.

    We are having a hard enough time working to alleviate victim blaming. But I agree with her that there is a major dick problem in the world. Companies, governments, financial entities, and retail industries are ruled by dicks. The conundrum is palpable.

    I say we just start treating people with a little dignity and respect, hold offenders (like Rkelly) accountable, and teach our sons NOT to rape. At least we have control over those things.

  • Me

    i don’t like the idea of labeling a culture with a part of the body that half of everybody is born with. not everybody with a dick is a rapist or harrasser. imagine if twerking was called vagina culture just cuz some girls do it. oh and how about everybody that tries to turn every violent crime into black culture. it ain’t right. i don’t like it.