Every sixty-eight seconds an American is sexually assaulted. Lisa Smith writes in light of this startling statistic and against the backdrop of the blaming and shaming of countless victims to ask one important question: why does America’s rape culture continue to exist? The Blaming and Shaming of Defenseless Victims in America's Rape Culture explores the ways collective memory, religion, and sexist beliefs are used to silence survivors and protect the powerful. The author delves into how justice is denied in sexual assault cases—rape kits untested by law enforcement agencies, information suppression through non-disclosure agreements, and denial and inaction by organizations, universities, corporations, and people all contribute to undetected rapists in our society. Despite these discouraging happenings, the #MeToo movement proved that legions of survivors of sexual violence can use their voice to fight back. Oral and historical narratives are included to encourage others to share their stories and promote social accountability. Through insightful research and analysis, the author offers a much-needed viewpoint on a vital and timely issue—why and how American society is perpetuating and protecting a dangerous culture of sexual violence, and even more importantly, how to fight back.
Lisa Smith is professor, author, and advocate who has taught psychology, sociology, criminal justice, and human service courses for twenty years.
Preface: My Introduction to Rape Culture
Chapter 1 – America’s Collective Memory, Religious Past & Sexist Beliefs Contribute to Its Current Rape Culture
Chapter 2: How America Defines Sexual Assault & Rape
Chapter 3: Vulnerable Children Targeted for Sexual Violence
Chapter 4: Teens & Adult Sexual Assault
Chapter 5: Applications of DIIS Theory to the Psyche of the Victim & Offender
Chapter 6: A Path Forward, Policy Reform & Conclusions
About the Author
Smith examines rape statistics, and the forces and circumstances that impact these statistics, in diverse populations. Acknowledging the existence of a rape epidemic, she pinpoints contributing factors, including rape myths, scripts, vague rape laws, and law enforcement's failure to test sexual assault kits and prosecute. As Smith points out, only 5 out of 1,000 rapists are ever convicted or imprisoned. Sexual violence impacts the vulnerable including children, people who identify as LGBTQ, military personnel, prisoners, the elderly, spouses, and people with disabilities. Smith asks if the intersection of status with race, gender, and/or age significantly impacts the victim blaming that prevents eradication of this epidemic, and how victim blaming normalizes sexually violent stereotypes. Smith includes case vignettes (e.g., Weinstein, Cosby, Catholic Church, Boy Scouts) illustrating rapes and stereotypes, and traces how race and sexual violence silence Black victims as white privilege leads to acquittals. Smith argues that DIIS theory (e.g., denial, inaction, information suppression) and focal theory (community protection, etc.) help attribute psychological dysfunction to the survivor. Society hesitates to impose consequences on the perpetrator while blaming victims and honoring nondisclosure agreements. Smith argues that education and prevention should target vulnerable groups, as changing policy involves a slow process of highlighting the epidemic, reforming politics and policy, and strengthening accountability. Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates. Graduate students, faculty and professionals. General readers.
Lisa Smith has written a very detailed, historical, and well-researched case of how we have arrived at the #MeToo moment. Survivors around the world are speaking up at long last about a problem that is as old as time. We applaud Dr. Smith for making the case that nothing less than complete social transformation will deliver us from the plague of sexual violence.