EJ Graf’s title says it all. Her article at American Prospect is powerful. The money quote:
“Rape culture,” as young feminists now call this, isn’t limited to India. It lives anywhere that has a “traditional” vision of women’s sexuality. A culture in which women are expected to remain virgins until marriage is a rape culture. In that vision, women’s bodies are for use primarily for procreation or male pleasure. They must be kept pure. While cultural conservatives would disagree, this attitude gives men license to patrol—in some cases with violence—women’s hopes for controlling their lives and bodies.
It’s a culture that sees women’s sexuality as property of men. It’s a culture that values women according to their supposed sexual purity.
A culture in which women must cover up or be threatened is a rape culture. You’re thinking of hijab and burquas, right? Think also of the now well-known SlutWalks, which were launched after a Toronto police officer told young women that they could avoid rape by not dressing like “sluts.” The protests, which have spread worldwide, make the point that no matter how we dress, women are at risk; and no matter how we dress, our bodies are our own.
Purity culture is a culture that is threatened by female autonomy.