4. Conclusion

[13] This paper does not claim to provide definitive answers to such complex dilemmas, but rather to highlight problems in addressing the sensitive issues of ambiguity and ‘complicity’ in women’s interactions with patriarchal systems. Although there is no simple solution to the problems of representation and judgement in relation to women who participate in footballers’ ‘rape culture’, we do propose that these ‘grey zone’ figures be represented in a self-reflexive, nuanced manner by explicitly articulating questions of responsibility and complicity rather than making simplistic judgements that imply a reduction in the culpability of perpetrators. We also propose that, as Linda Alcoff and Laura Gray contend, the majority of attention must be given to the perpetrators of rape, rather than focusing on the behaviour of their victims (1993, 279-80). However, in drawing attention to the wider patriarchal social structures that support ‘rape cultures’ – or what  Nicola Gavey terms the ‘cultural scaffolding’ of rape (2005) – it would seem to be crucial for feminist scholars to consider how women may (or may not) be implicated in these structures. Finally, as Levi argues, the distinction between victims and perpetrators must be maintained, so that despite participating in a culture that promotes the abuse, denigration, and humiliation of women, the roles of women like Palavi cannot in any way be conflated with the roles of the perpetrators of sexual assault.

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