Anti-rape movement  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The anti-rape movement is a socio-political movement which is part of the movement seeking to combat violence against and the abuse of women. The movement seeks to change community attitudes to violence against women, such as attitudes of entitlement to sex and victim blaming, as well as attitudes of women themselves such as self-blame for violence against them. It also seeks to promote changes to rape laws or laws of evidence which enable rapists from avoid penalties because, for example, victims are discouraged from reporting assaults against them, or because the rapist is entitled to some immunity or because a rapist (as a defendant) is capable in law of denigrating the victim. The movement has been successful in many jurisdictions, though many of these attitudes still persist in some jurisdictions, and despite changes to laws and significant increases in reporting of such assaults, in practice violence against women still persists at unacceptable high levels.

The movement came about in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when new concepts of rape arose out of second wave feminism and the reevaluation of women's daily lives socially and with regard to the social institutions with which they interact. Prior to this reexamination, rape had been viewed as a "sex crime carried out by pathological men," who were unable to control their own sexual desires. Feminists began to emphasize the role of power dynamics specifically with regard to the perpetration of rape as a crime committed primarily by men against women. This revised definition of rape was meant to come from the perspective of the victim. The act of rape was asserted to be a way in which societal gender roles, the way someone acts out either masculinity or femininity, were enforced and the hierarchy of power placing males above females was maintained. Rape was thus defined as a form of violence used to ensure male power, a form of social control over women and children. Known as the "anti-rape" or "rape prevention" movement, it was founded with the conceptions that sexual violence and violence against women more generally is a tool of social control used to keep women in a subordinate position to men and that women need to do something that aids victims of sexual violence to become "survivors" of violence instead of victims. The anti-rape movement continues today, with growing awareness in the United States public sphere about the concept of rape culture coinciding with the increasing popularity of feminism.

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