Feministe has a long, thorough, and scholarly overview of the most common kind of rape: acquaintance rape. It’s not the stereotypical violent assault that is going to affect most women, but the guy who gets them drunk and assaults them quietly, in situations with reasonable deniability. The article is loaded with triggers for you women who have experienced those situations, so I’ll just briefly summarize. The good news: it’s only a small percentage of men who are these kind of sexual predators. The bad news: they do it repeatedly, and usually get away with it. A few guys are making the rest of us look bad, and are inspiring a culture of fear in women.
One very useful part of the article is a summary of what we can do to isolate and stop the recidivist rapists.
(1) Men who inhabit cis- and het- identified social spaces need to listen to women. The women we know will tell us when the men they thought they could trust assaulted them; if and only if they know we won’t stonewall, deny, blame or judge. We need to listen without defending that guy. That guy is more likely than not a recidivist. He has probably done it before. He will probably do it again.
(2) The same men need to listen to other men. The men who rape will all but declare themselves. The guy who says he sees a woman too drunk to know where she is as an opportunity is not joking. Men who rape look for assurance that their social license to operate is in effect; they look for little confirmations that if he takes home the drunkest woman at the party and she says the next day that she said no, that she’ll be blamed and not believed. Choosing not to be part of a rape-supportive environment actually tells the rapist that his behavior has risks, and not everyone will take his side against an accuser.
(3) We need to change the culture of discourse about rape (and I mean all of us). Rapists know that the right combination of factors — alcohol and sex shame, mostly — will keep their victims quiet. Otherwise, they would be identified earlier and have a harder time finding victims. Women need social permission to talk frankly about sexual assault, because the more women can say what happened to them, the more difficult it is for the same man to rape six women without facing legal or even social consequences.
(4) Because the rapists have a fairly well-developed modus operandi, is is possible to spot it and interrupt it. We can look for the tactics and interrupt the routine. We can spot the rapist deliberately getting the woman drunk or angling to get the drunk woman alone in an unfamiliar place, and intervene. A guy offering a drunk woman a ride home may just be offering a ride, but if he is insistent when someone else offers a ride, this ought to raise a flag. If a guy is antagonistic towards women and places a lot of emphasis on sex as scoring or conquest, and he’s violating a woman’s boundaries and trying to end up with her drunk and alone, we don’t have to be sure what he’s doing to be concerned, and to start trying to give her exit ramps from his predatory slide.
I think #2 is going to be the toughest one. The men who engage in that sort of behavior tend to hang together and reinforce each other, and the men who will speak out and shut down predatory behavior in their pals at its onset will quickly find themselves excluded from the wolf pack. The problem, as we’ve seen in online behavior by the self-centered pigs, is that there’s no shortage of men (and women!) willing to form a support group for misogyny and rape culture.