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Mythology of Rape

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Rape myths are defined as "prejudicial, stereotyped, or false beliefs about rape, rape victims and rapists."

Rape myths can lead us to justify acts of sexual violence by rationalising that the victim did something wrong and therefore is at fault.

When people believe rape myths, for example, they frequently separate and/or distance themselves from the victim by saying,

"That would never happen to me because...."

and include descriptions of the victim which, in some way, give the victim some control or responsibility over what happened to them. For example:

"That would never happen to me because I don't wear low cut tops."

or

"That would never happen to me because I don't drink to excess in bars."

These ideas form a mythology around how the victim's actions or behaviours have in some way incited the rape or assault, and places elements of responsibility on the victim. Ms Broderick, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, reported that a number of women spoke about "the importance of reputation and the onus they felt was on them to behave appropriately." (Broderick, page 79). "You get the 'perception' talk very early on ...even just in social settings, work get togethers...you're expected to leave as soon as the fun was starting." (Broderick, Page 79).

There is another myth is that 'men cannot control their urges - once incited to have sex, it is natural for them to carry on'. This myth, that men have uncontrollable sex drives, derives from the male centric view of virility and male urges to have sex. It is tied up with the ideals of youth, sexual vigour, strength and masculinity which give names to the males having multiple partners as 'studs' or 'layers' and attaching positive images to those names. This is in contrast to women who have multiple partners, who are often referred to as 'sluts' or 'whores'. Such virile men have an expectation of sex and 'require' sex and, therefore, a woman who flirts but says no to sex is derogatorily called a 'cock tease'. Her choice not to have sex is seen as a failing on her part, or that there is something wrong with her.