Rape culture is something that is not often defined in our society on a regular basis, although it is subtly prevalent in everyday conversation, ideas, and media. For such an important issue, people generally have little knowledge about it or seek resources for more information.
Rape culture is defined as a society or environment whose social attitudes tend to trivialize and normalize sexual assault and abuse. In other words, rape culture makes abuse and sexual violence against women appear "normal" or something that "can't be helped." This poisonous ideology stems from centuries of objectification, oppression, and the unequal treatment of women.
Although modern society has made significant steps to help end rape culture, such as the #metoo movement that began in 2017, rape culture is still an issue that affects the lives of most, if not all, women at some point in their lives.
So what are some examples of rape culture? This can range from the act of rape itself to someone catcalling a woman on the street. Although some actions, such as rape and abuse, are definitely more explicit and overt, every aspect of rape culture plays into the idea that women are objects, here to cater to men at any capacity. Some other examples of rape culture include:
- Blaming the victim: (i.e."She was asking for it")
No matter what the circumstance, the victim is not at fault. Abuse or assault is always a choice that the perpetrator of violence makes to exert power and control over another person, and the responsibility lies with them.
- Asking victims the wrong questions: (i.e. "What were you wearing", "She shouldn't have been wearing that", etc.)
This is the idea that she was wearing something that impacted being raped or assaulted when in reality we know that the way a person looks does not cause rape. Rape is not about sex or attractiveness. Rape is a crime committed to obtain power and control over another person, and sex is the weapon that the rapist uses to do that.
Teen Vogue displayed a photo series highlighting what women were wearing when they were raped and we really thought this put the concept into a visual perspective. You can check out that gallery here.
- Teaching women how to "not get raped" instead of teaching men not to rape
We're not knocking a good self-defense class, by all means go for it. But for that to be the solution or the conversation that is had in regards to sexual assault, goes back to perpetuating this idea that it is the victim's responsibility to defend themselves versus the perpetrator's responsibility to not rape.
- Not holding boys and men accountable for their actions, (i.e. "boys will be boys")
We liked what writer Hannah Robinson from The Breeze said "Boys will be boys as long as we continue to aid appalling behavior — reducing violating acts to a cliché remark flippantly made at playgrounds and courtrooms. Boys will be boys as long as we continue turning our cheeks to microaggressions and sexist remarks, instead of refusing to tolerate inappropriate behavior so deeply entrenched in our psyche that it feels normal. In order for encounters like the one that happened to 'Grace' to be prevented, we must teach boys what’s right, just as we must teach young girls to speak up when something feels wrong."
- Not taking rape accusations seriously or not believing victims (We believe you!!)
- Tolerance of sexual harassment in the workplace
Going one step further, having a policy in place that addresses sexual harassment/assault but also offering training on what to do. Our Prevention, Education, and Awareness Team educates over 23,000 students, businesses, and community members annually. We invite you to learn more about hosting a training or education program at your business or organization. Submit a request here.
- Assuming only promiscuous women get raped when in reality, anyone can be raped including men
FACT: Sexual assault is motivated by hostility, power and control. Sexual assaults are not motivated by sexual desire. Learn more from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Defining masculinity as being dominant and sexually aggressive or defining femininity as being submissive, passive, and weak. We’re fans of the #LikeAGirl ad from Always. This is crushing that "run like a girl" stereotype one ad at a time.
- Using vulgar language and jokes that degrade women, (i.e. "locker room banter")
Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language. This type of language not only degrades women but leads to dehumanization and desensitizing the issue and the epidemic of violence against women that is occurring every day. In fact, 2 in 5 women in Texas are victims of sexual assault (Texas Council on Family Violence).
Many of these elements can be observed in everyday life whether in the news, movies, television shows, music, work, friends or overheard conversations. In order to fight back against rape culture, individuals should always speak out if they witness any aspect of rape culture, whether it is a sexist joke or sexual harassment. By raising awareness about what constitutes as rape culture, real change can be achieved. As a society, we can redefine what it means to be masculine and feminine and decide what behaviors will be permitted and what will not. With the help of many, we can create a safer, more equal, and more loving world for future generations.
Denton County Friends of the Family is dedicated to providing compassionate, comprehensive services to those impacted by rape, sexual abuse and domestic violence while partnering with our community to promote safety, hope, healing, justice, and prevention.
If you or someone you know needs help or has questions connect with our 24-Hour Crisis Line at 940-382-7273 or 800-572-4031.