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Rape Culture in Modern America

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From the age of 11, I was told that if boys pulled my hair or poked me with pencils, it meant that they liked me. I didn’t like it that much. By 13, I had the first man look me up and down in the street and as I listened, I would hear him completely replace my identity from human to object. I remember my mother always telling me that if I see a strange man following me, move to the other side of the street, and remember if they ever grab you, scream. And this was all something I learnt just at the age of thirteen.

Rape culture is a sociological concept for a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitude about gender and sexuality. Just this sentence alone, having the words rape and normalized together, is enough to make me feel about this topic. These are two words that should never been seen together because if you’re not aware already, rape is not normal. And no, rape culture is not just a phase made up by a feminist group, used to make you men look bad or to make it seem like rape is something that happens far more often than it should. Rape culture is a judge who sentenced only 30 days in jail to a 50-year-old man who raped a 14-year-old girl (who later committed suicide), and defended that the girl was “older than her chronological age”. Rape culture is pop music, such as blurred lines by Robin Thicke that mirrors the words of actual rapists “you know you want it”, promoting the invalidity of consent, and still being the number one song in the country for 12 weeks. Rape culture is 1-in-5 women and 1-in-71 men having reported experiencing sexual assault. Examples are all around us. Is 1 in 5 American women surviving rape or attempted rape considered a cultural norm? Can’t you see it?

They saturate the society we live and breathe in at individual, one-on-one levels. This crime makes the world cold and scary and ruins the lives of the victims. When a girl complains about being catcalled on the street because it made her uncomfortable and you tell her to just take a compliment, you’re encouraging rape culture. It is seen in CNN, ABC and NBC news when they use the Steubenville verdict to spike their ratings, even if its favouring the perpetrators who never did apologizing for ruining a girls life, but only for getting caught. This isn’t a world I desire to live in, do you? Where in my life I can’t watch a single episode of Game of Thrones without some gruesome rape scene. Where I turn on the radio and all that bleeds through my ears is sex, drugs and “blurred lines”. Media is a space where rape culture is created and preformed. And let’s be honest, nothing is ever going to stop. The media is all around us now, it’s the way we survive. As a 17-year-old girl I will never stop the praying on young children, I can’t stop people from saying “well look at what you’re wearing”. Rape culture exists because a lot of people don’t believe it does. Know your history. Don’t laugh at rape. Name the real problems. Violent masculinity and victim-blaming. I knew a girl once, who was told by her mother “you were drinking, what did you expect?” “what were you wearing? I told you to cover up. ” When she went to seek support, she had stumbled upon rape culture: a culture in which sexual violence is the norm and victims are being blamed for their own assaults. When you hear the word “rape”, I imagine that your mind often pictures a male perpetrator and a female victim. Correct?

Men are victims too. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 30% of boys aged 0-9 are victims of sexual assault. Males make up 10 to 15% of all adult sexual assault victims. Although, this is probably an underestimate because men are too afraid to report their assaults because just like us females, they too are left with no support. “Why are you complaining? She was a solid 10/10. Good on you for getting in there” If I was a boy, I too wouldn’t come forward. I’m angry that every girl I know has a creepy sex story, that teachers call questions of rape and sexual assaults “debates” and that the phrase ‘implied consent’ even exists. As if the way I speak or the way I dress is, in anyway, a big sign on my forehead saying “go ahead”. I heard a metaphor one time relating sexual consent to a cup of tea. If you say ‘Hey, would you like a cup of tea?’ and they say “oh my god yes, I would LOVE a cup of tea! Thank you!” then you know they want a cup of tea. If you say “Hey, would you like a cup of tea?” and they um and ahh and say, “I’m not really sure” then you can make them a cup of tea or not, but be aware that they might not drink it, and if they don’t drink it then – this is the important bit- don’t make them drink it.

You can not blame someone for you going to the effort of making the tea on the off-chance they wanted it. Just deal with them not wanting to drink it. But if they say “no thank you” then don’t make them tea. At all. Don’t make them the drink tea, don’t get annoyed at them for not wanting tea, they just don’t want the tea, Okay? And, although it may seem annoying, they might say yes to the tea, and then in the time it takes to boil that kettle, brew the tea and add the milk, they’ve changed their mind. And that too, is okay. You’re still not entitled to watch them drink it. I don’t want to turn on the news anymore, or scroll through my Facebook and see that there has been another victim who has had their soul ripped from the very within of them because someone else had such disgusting, immoral intentions.

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