THE LINK BETWEEN RAPE CULTURE AND HOW SOCIETY NORMALISES SEXUAL VIOLENCE
Rape culture is a term that was first used in the 1970s and is designed to show the ways in which society blames victims of sexual assault and also normalises sexual violence.
First thing you need to know about 'rape culture' is that it allows us to live in a society where it is acceptable to teach girls how to 'prevent' sexual violence and tell them how to “not get raped” instead of telling rapists to just “NOT rape”.
Rape culture is telling women to be careful about what we wear, how we carry ourselves, where we walk, when you walk there, and with whom, where we do it, with whom we do it, and how many partners do we do it with. What we had to drink, how much we drink, was it someone we knew, did we make eye contact, did we say 'no' clearly enough and did anyone else hear it. It's telling girls to think about who’s around when the delivery guy comes, to own a dog, to walk on lit street and hold our house keys in out hand, not to live on the ground floor, to get a roommate, to take up self-defence to always be alert and watch our backs and if we didn’t follow all the rules and we got raped - then it is OUR fault.
1 out of every 5 woman will have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Statistics show that 98% of rapists will never spend a day in jail. These facts show us that most people would rather believe that the rapist was not at fault and that the victim was just exaggerating or regretted having sex when in reality only 2% of all rape and related sex charges are determined to be false.
Yet we live in a world of rape culture and in that world people say things like: “Women accuse celebrities and athletes of rape all the time for money and attention.”
“The definition of rape is so loose these days, women can claim anything is rape and get away with it.”
“If she was really raped she would have called the police"
This is why only about 40% of rapes are ever reported to the police, because victims know that if their claim becomes public, their every behaviour will be scrutinised they will be shamed for their sexual history, and they will be labeled for life.
But here's the real problem.
Rape culture means that people don't actually see 'rape' as a big deal. And I know that sounds odd, but rape culture as a cultural encourages gender violence, treating rape as merely "rough sex" and this is something we are all exposed to on a daily basis, in movies, advertisements, jokes and even legal terminology.
How many times have you heard jokes about girls not being pretty enough to even get assaulted? How many times have you heard phrases like 'she got raped' instead of 'he raped her'? And most importantly, how many times have you seen images portraying violence against women in ads for clothing, alcohol or cars?
Violent and submissive portrayals of women in advertising has created a toxic cultural environment because ads such this one by Dolce & Gabbana which shows a swimsuit model being restrained on the floor while a group of half-dressed men stand around her watching, gives the idea that gang rape is sexy and fashionable.
And the examples are endless, uncensored by any age restriction, out there for everyone to see with research showing that viewing these images increase the viewer’s acceptance of rape myths.
Because what these ads have in common is that the women in them are all dressed very provocatively. And what this tells the viewer is that: if you are dressed sexy, then you will be raped.
Now, the biggest issue is that these sort of visual images we see everywhere around us, is that they do not leave us feeling bad for the victim. Yet, every two minutes another American woman is sexually assaulted. These statistics demonstrate that we need to seriously assess how our society still views women as sexual objects and how rape has become a part life.
This is an insulting fact to both genders, it minimises men to creators that have no self control while telling women that all the responsibility lies on them.
Listen up, this is not just a women's issue. It is a men's issue too and men should not shy away from having this conversation, because in most case - it is MEN WHO RAPE. And no, this is not an attack on all men... this is an attack on men who rape and if you are offended by it then you need to ask yourself why that is?
The fact is that men have completely been taken out of the conversation. Most rape stories focus so heavily on the victim, her sexual past, her credibility and background it's almost as if rape has nothing to do with the guy who actually took out his penis and forced it up someone's vagina.
How is that even possible?
Now, if you want to know what we can do about it, then firstly - we can stop telling your daughters not to wear certain clothing items because we're are afraid they will be sexually assaulted. I know we are trying to protect them, but you have to remember this people: rapists cause rape - not clothing. Personally I believe education is key to changing this rape culture we are living in but instead of taking to our daughters about how they can prevent their own rape making it sound like it is their fault if they do god forbid get raped, how about we also talk to our sons?
And we should call out brands and companies that portray women as sex objects and encourage violence towards them. This is not okay. It's as simple as that!