As I say that, I guarantee that if I were to take a head count based on the amo unt of students in a class, I would find at least 5 people that shuffled their eyes arou nd the room in search for someone that shared the same sense Of discomfort as they were f eeling I’d notice some anxious fidgeting amongst the seats; and I’d realise that majority of the eye contact that was once held with me is now shared with the back wall.
Understandably so, I might add, onsidering while growing up, throughout all generations, we’re taught that th e word “rape” belongs on the list of “fourlettered profanities” that we’re not to say, nor speak of, in public. In todays society, it’s viewed as a heinous, yet almost mythological concept that while growing up (specifically girls) are warned to take preventative measures against. But as m ost teens do, we feel a lack of vulnerability, or even invincibility, against things that could really hurt us. But why?
W‚re aware that it happens, we acknowledge the reality of it, and w e can only begin to imagine how horrendous and traumatic of an experience it is, yet we ontinue to live with this mindset that its not as big of a deal as it’s made up to be, it really do esn’t happen that often, and that it’s not going to happen to me. But contrary to the majoritys b elief, a statistic from RAINN (The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) confirms that ev ery 107 seconds, another American is sexually assaulted. The consistent disbelief in this startlin g statistic is why chose to focus on rape culture’s impact on our society.
Chances are, if you identify as, or associate with feminists and liberalminded people, you’ve more than likely heard the term “rape culture”. But how many people r ally know what rape culture looks like? After reading article after article scrolling endless com ments, many statements were made, stated that rape culture is just a phrase made up to m ake men look bad, or exaggerate that rape is something that happens more often than it actually d oes. These responses made me come to the realization that some people truly don’t understand wh at rape culture is.
Hearing it for the first time, it can be confusing. We understand culture to be things that people commonly engage in together as a society (ranging from body language and communication to social events and arts), a d associating “rape” with that concept is difficult. Shannon Ridgeway, the author Of the web article, “25 Everyday Examples of Rape Culture” best explains that to better understand r ape culture, we first need to understand that its not necessarily a society or group of people t hat outwardly promotes rape. (Although it could be).
But rather, we’re talking about somethi ng more intimate than that. “Vde’re talking about cu Itural practices that excuse or otherwise tole rate sexual violence. Debate columnist, The Instigator, argues this by claiming that “by no means d oes society excuse rape. But thanks to the highly publicized trial of 2 teenagers in Steub enville, Ohio who raped a classmate at a house party, this argument is quickly falsified. Many of the public responses were sickening and spoke volumes on society’s ideals about rape c ulture. “l have no sympathy for whores. “So you got drunk at a party and two people take advantage of you, thaes not rape, you’re just a loose drunk slut. ” “l would lay my life on it that she (Steubenville victim) was more than willing a Imost inviting. ” These quotes are just a few of the public responses to the rape case and trial that occurred earlier his year. At the time of her assault, the victim was unconscious from intoxica tion and first learned about her rape through images distributed on social media. (anonym ous) Like any successful recipe, rape culture has many ingredients, but once mixed together, it’s nearly possible to taste each individual ingredient.
It’s so blended into our culture and made up of many omnipresent tastes the following 3 may not appear to be major c omponents at first glance, but undoubtedly fuel and are fueled by it. 1 . Gender Norms One in six men is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and one in 33 men is a survivor of ape, but toxic masculinity silences and stigmatizes these stories and experiences because they don’t match neatly with the strong, confident, and aggressive man typecast by gender norms. In our society, men receive most praise when they live up to the obnoxiously em phasized need for hyper masculinity.
Hypermasculinity revolves around the need for power. Men are taught from a young age that they must ooze masculinity and if that it’s being threatened t he only appropriate response is anger. Research shows that most rapes happen out o f response of anger. Hypermasculinity also states that men have to have an uncontrollable sex dri e. We’re taught that because of their need for their desires to be adhered to, that once they st art, or are aroused, there’s no going back. This belief is where one of the main acceptable excuses for rape flourished from: “Well, she was leading him on. After all, as Virginia State senator Richar d Black stated, rape is “human nature”. But men aren’t rapists by nature. Men are brought u p in a society that promotes standards of masculinity that are detrimental to the mind. Blaming men without investigating where this emasculation stereotype originated from buys right i nto rape culture and sells men short. . Sexual Objectification of Women’s Bodies Another huge contributor that feeds and sustains this rape culture is our soci ety’s volatile obsession with women’s bodies and appearances.
We, as girls, are taught fro m a young age that our value is derived from what people, specifically boys, think of how we look, and boys are taught to find a girl’s worth in this above all else. Because of culture’s incessa nt focus on appearance, women are literally stripped of their humanistic qualities and tur ned into objects. And when I say culture, I am being sure to obviously include other women. This obsession with a womanis aesthetic causes women to look at their own b ody as sexual objects, known throughout psychology as selfobjectification.
Selfobjectificatio n is linked with many mental illnesses such as body shame, eating disorders, depression, sub stance abuse, and sexual disfunction. (Bowman) The main problem with this is that, as I stated earlier, objectification rids a per son of any humanistic values and turning them into, well, an object. Th is social script we learn growing up and continue to see played out around us typically features a coy, demure, an d sexy (but not slutty! ) oman, waiting to be romanced/ dominated by a strong confident, and aggressive man. Consent is assumed, never discussed. . Language and Accessibility Luckily everyone knows rape culture at some level. We just have to let different communities create and define their own language around sexual violence, as Sesali Bowen explained at FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture panel discussion last month. Language may seem completely surface level and unimportant, but our language shapes the way we see the w orld. It’s not surprising that threatening sexual assault is the primary way that we engage i n verbal warfare. McKelle) This language is so normalized, it’s probably part of your vocabulary, too.
In fa ct, not using sexual violent language is almost impossible because of how ingrained t has become. We don’t even realize what we are actually saying because we don’t question it. so, how do We fight back? It can sound like a daunting task; preventing rape means changing an entire culture. After all, ending rape culture rests on us dismantli ng several other social norms and forms of oppression, but if we commit to addressing each of these evolving problems, we can move ever closer to the eradication of rape for good.