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Rape culture, the growing issue of normalizing victim blaming, accepting sexually explicit jokes, teaching women how to prevent rape, and much more. Rape culture is a very serious issue and needs to be put to an end. Rape culture can be defined as an environment where rape is widespread and sexual violence is normalized and excused in popular culture and media. If we separate rape and culture, rape is then defined as “unlawful sexual intercourse or any other sexual penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person, with or without force, by a sex organ, other body part, or foreign object, without the consent of the victim.” (Merriam-Webster) Culture is now defined as “ the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group, the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic.” (Merriam-Webster)
It is necessary to get a better understanding of what rape culture is to fully take a side against or for it. Rape culture is a learned behavior, which includes but is not limited to “misogynistic language, sexualization and objectification of women’s bodies, victim blaming, and the glamorization of sexual violence, thereby creating a society that disregards women’s rights and safety.” (Southern Connecticut State University) In quite a few situations victim blaming is caused by one’s own denial, for example the saying “I wouldn’t do what he/she did so it won’t happen to me.” A few questions commonly mentioned when rape is brought up are “well what were you wearing? How much did you have to drink? Well you were kissing him earlier of course you wanted it.”(Say No More) None of that is okay, there is a clear line of consent and if both parties don’t agree then then no further actions should take place.
Rape culture is hidden everywhere, if you think you don’t notice it try reading deeper into what people have to say on the topic of rape. Another common type of rape culture is trivializing sexual assault, for example the phrases “but he’s a star athlete he wouldn’t do that” and “boys will be boys” No, boys will be held accountable for their actions, regardless of athletic standing. When did it become okay to rape or sexually assault someone and get away with it because he’s “such a nice boy”? Take Brock Turner’s case for good measure, he was a star athlete who raped an unconscious woman. Brock Turner was a great swimmer, and because his high social standing and star athlete branding he was given leniency.
To elaborate on this “free pass” issue let’s do a comparison, just for a different crime now. For instance let’s say that you murdered someone, in most cases the murders don’t get a pat on the back and get to walk away scot free. In most of those cases they are held accountable for their actions, they don’t get a free pass simply based off of athletic history, job standing, ethnicity, or simply based on the testimony of family members and members of the community who swear the murderer is a good person.
Rape culture is not only women specific, men are involved just as much as women are. Whether it be the peer pressure on men to score (get laid) or the idea that “real men” don’t get raped and only the weak ones do is absurd. It can happen to anyone at anytime, there doesn’t have to be a reason. Around 17.7 million women have been a victim of attempted or completed rape, and the men’s statistic is at 2.78 million (Rainn) Society puts this unrealistic pressure on men and women to get laid, for example after a girl turned eighteen she went to a club with her friends to celebrate. Immediately a group of men started eyeing her friends and her out, one of them eventually came over and told one of the friends “Hey my man over there thinks you’re hot, why don’t you go back to his room? It’s his first time in Hawaii” The friend responded with “no thanks, i’m good” and this man replied with “come on he’s my buddy, my buddies over there made a bet that he couldn’t get laid tonight and i’m just trying to help him out.” This is where her jaw hit the floor and her friend got upset, so she proceeded to ask him “so just because you guys made a bet you expect my friend to jump into bed with a stranger? Because it’s his first time in Hawaii and you all are putting pressure on him to get laid?” Needless to say the mood turned sour and this was the first thing she had experienced first hand.. The simple idea that sex was the objective of a bet was extremely disappointing.
Southern Connecticut State University has a few tips to fight against victim blaming and rape culture. The tips include “avoid using language that objectifies or degrades women, say something if you hear someone making offensive jokes or trivializing rape, think critically about about the media’s messages about women, men, relationships and violence, always communicate with sexual partners and do not assume consent” (Southern Connecticut State University). There are many more but these are the few that stood out the most. Speaking out when you hear jokes being made can make a big difference for someone else, it can help open the joker’s eyes to what they’re encouraging and supporting, even though they may not fully understand it. Victim blaming is harmful, in the ways that it makes it harder for them to come forward after an incident. If someone thinks that you blame them for what happened they won’t want to speak to you about it, they would feel like they can’t talk to you because they’re afraid of being blamed and told they shouldn’t have been wearing that dress or shouldn’t have had that drink. According to an article published by the international society for traumatic stress studies, victim blaming can lead to destructive behavior as well as depression amongst other things (Lisa McCann).
Here’s an example of a victim blaming “Chassica was held down and raped at the age of fifteen by a close family friend. This friend who was slightly older than herself at the time, was so close that he was considered family. She told me that when she tried to tell people about her attack she was called a liar because, “He would never do something like that.” She was also called an “attention seeker” and was also told that just because she made a mistake it was no excuse to cry rape. Her claim was invalidated because of the “character” of her attacker. “ (Knipp) Through the rest of Chassica’s story she talks about how she lived most of her childhood being called a liar. She also states that it took her two years with the help of a close friend after growing up to learn that it wasn’t her fault. This is an example of how victim blaming can be harmful to one and one’s mental state. It took years to overcome the psychological damage that had been done to her at such an early age.
According to Rainn “only 344 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police. That means about 2 out of 3 go unreported” (Rainn). Rainn’s website also states that the top reasons for victims not reporting crimes immediately are “to protect the household or victim from further crimes by the offender, to stop the incident or prevent recurrence or escalation, and to catch/punish/prevent offender from reoffending” (Rainn). Afraid of the repercussions that the abuser and what society may say to the victim in backlash. The website also states that out of the crimes that weren’t reported to the police these people “feared retaliation, believed the police would not do anything to help, thought it was a personal matter, reported to a different official, believed it was not important enough to report, and did not want to get the perpetrator in trouble.” (Rainn) The fear is what prevents them from speaking out, it’s a shame that many people go unpunished for their crimes. We as a society need to work harder to get rid of this ridiculous issue,
Rape culture means that under certain circumstances, rape can be brushed aside as having been the victims fault, made up, or simply taken as it’s not our problem so we don’t have to worry about it. They once put out a magazine where two pages had been glued together, to get these pages open you had to use force. This magazine two page spread represented the force one would need to rape someone. The message on the pages once you opened it was “if you have to use force, it’s rape.” That ad in particular stands out among others, many have commented on paper articles that feature this ad saying things like “the fact that it’s making me uncomfortable probably means it’s effective.” (Natabee) as well as “Yeah… I just cringed and thousands of horrible images flew through my mind… it’s effective.” (Erotes) When this ad first was released there was much controversial debating if the message was truly helpful or just plain silly. One user’s comments among this ad post displayed “When I see pages stuck together in a magazine I just rip them apart because I assume they’re stuck, doesn’t mean anything special” (mattyshot).
Why should you care about rape culture? Or rape and sexual assault in general if it hasn’t happened to you? Because it could happen to someone you care about, your mother, sister, brother, or dad. It can happen to anyone at anytime, it’s unexpected. Rape is illegal, and has an average of 8-10 prison years when convicted of the crime. Just as a refresher and to really drive the message through rape is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will usually of a female or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent because of mental illness, mental deficiency, intoxication, unconsciousness, or deception.” If it were to happen to you, would you want others belittling your situation or making fun of your situation?
Society teaches us to not get raped rather than don’t rape, that’s pretty screwed up don’t you think? Throughout social media many people support rape culture without necessarily realizing it, for example if your favorite celebrity is accused of rape and the fans of said celebrity start attacking the victims and calling them “career enders” and harassing them for coming forward is a form of supporting rape culture. Take for instance Sam Pepper, Marina Joyce amongst other youtubers spoke out about being sexually harassed by Sam Pepper and when these women did so, Pepper’s fans retaliated by posting comments such as “The way these girls are lying to get attention is sick #isupportsam (daisylovesz).
The Say No More Foundation have released numerous ad’s with various famous actors and famous athletes. These ad’s feature the words “No More-” and each one is a different victim blaming phrase. A few examples are “No more she was asking for it” “No more it’s just the way people are” “No more why didn’t she tell anyone” (Hargitay)
Rape culture is a growing issue that is accepted by many throughout media platforms and popular culture, whether people understand what they’re supporting. Prayers for the future, so that we can accept those who have been raped or sexually assaulted instead of dismissing them. No more it’s not my problem, no more excuses. It’s time to change the culture and speak up about it. How do we change this culture? Is it even possible? We’re as a society so conditioned to believe that sexual assault and rape is normal. There are jokes made, memes made, shaming is done, we are being horrible people to the victims. The main thing to take away from this essay is that rape culture is wrong, you shouldn’t condone it. You should stand up for those who are too afraid to do it for themselves.
Start the change, sometimes all it takes is a reality check for those to see clearly that it is wrong. Be the change you wish to see in the world, make that difference and speak up. We as a society need to grow and be more accepting in order to change the culture. Hopefully one day we can live in a world without victim blaming, slut shaming, and peer pressure among us. Let’s put an end to rape culture.
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