Sociologist Allan Johnson notes that a society is patriarchal to the extent that it is male-dominated, male-identified, and male-centered. This doesn’t mean that all men have power over all women or that all men feel powerful in their daily lives. What it means is that men tend to be in positions of power and authority, that what is considered normal and valuable within the culture tends to be associated with men and masculinity, and that the cultural focus of attention tends to be on men and the things that men do. One facet of a patriarchal society, as Johnson notes, is the oppression of women. And one facet of that oppression is men’s violence against women. We live, in other words, in a rape culture. What does this mean? In brief, to say we live in a rape culture means that we live in a culture in which rape is pervasive, prevalent, and normalized through societal attitudes about gender, sex, and sexuality. There is a great deal of research to support this claim. For example, in the U.S. researchers predict that one in four women will be raped by a man in her lifetime.
Ezzell, Matthew B. (2009). “Pornography, lad mags, video games, and boys: Reviving the canary in the cultural coal mine.” In Olfman, S. (Ed), The sexualization of childhood (pp. 7-32). Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers. (via)