I believe the vision of those who started rape crisis lines, and the work that is being continued by rape advocates today, is the number one contributor to this decline.
The number of rapes per capita in the United States has plunged by more than 85 percent since the 1970s, and reported rape fell last year even while other violent offenses increased, according to federal crime data. This seemingly stunning reduction in sexual violence has been so consistent over the past two decades that some experts say they have started to believe it is accurate, even if they cannot fully explain why it is occurring.
Victim blaming hasn't magically disappeared, but the support available for victims of rape shows that not everyone accepts that rapists are enticed into wrongdoing by their immoral victims. Most of us now accept that a Lolita-like teenager is either a predator's fantasy or a girl who most likely has a history of being sexually abused.
The increased awareness and the increase in the number of victims and survivors reaching out and speaking out can make it seem like rape is now an epidemic that sprang from nowhere. But it is instead a ground swell of opposition to letting rapists operate unnoticed and unimpeded.
Many rapists who once knew they were safe from prosecution because of how and where they picked their victims don't feel so safe anymore. To me that's a good thing. But to these men and those who still see many victims as unworthy of being called true victims, this crackdown on all classes of rapists isn't such good news. They believe we've gone too far when any type of woman or girl has a shot at justice.
If those who attack the efforts of rape advocates succeed at letting men and boys make "mistakes" when it comes to getting consent, I have no doubt that the trend WILL reverse itself. We can't let that happen.
Technorati tags: rape crime politics sexual assault feminism