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What is Rape Culture?

A Piece on What It Is and Why It Needs to End

Photo by Monica Melton on Unsplash

I first want to address that this could be triggering for some individuals, please take care of yourself and your needs while reading (or choosing not to). Secondly, I want to address that this shows rape culture as a fairly privileged, cisgendered, and straight women experience. I do not want to claim to be speaking for all people of all identities. Alright, read on!

You know what makes me uncomfortable?

Rape culture.

Rape culture makes women fear walking alone at night, getting drunk, and wear revealing clothing.

Rape culture is making jokes that demean the seriousness of the issue.

Rape culture makes victims scared to report their attacker for fear of being blamed or looked down upon.

Rape culture is when, after a woman has the courage to report an assault, responding officers ask about their clothes, their drinks, their flirtation, and their past sexual history.

Rape culture is two out of three cases going unreported and an even smaller ratio of perpetrators being arrested.

Rape culture is when a judge gives a rapist less than a year of jail time because they are worried about the impact it will have on his life. But what about the impact his heinous decision had on her life?

Rape culture is teaching girls to carry pepper spray, check their drinks, and use the buddy system, but not teaching boys about consent.

Rape culture is a courtyard full of male college students chanting “no means yes, yes means anal”, telling the thousands of women attending this school, who are forced to listen fearfully, that their consent means nothing.

Rape culture is the American people electing a man who makes open statements about sexual assault, then causally blows it off as “locker room talk”. That sort of talk is not suitable for locker rooms, or any other place in our society. Electing someone who makes such disgusting statements enforces rape culture and tells every woman in the country that her experiences are invalid, and that the men around her are allowed to treat her in any way they please with absolutely no consequences.

Rape culture is portraying rape stereotypically, as only an obviously and visibly violent act committed by an evil, monstrous stranger. While discounting the rape that happens between friends or partners. The rape that happens while a woman is unconscious or unable to consent. The rape that happens to men or members of the LGBTQ community. The rape that happens when the rapist does not know he is committing rape. Most people agree that stereotypical rape is wrong, yet completely ignore the validity of all other cases. This often results in attacking the victim in a desperate attempt to justify the rapist’s actions as anything other than an atrocious violation of another human’s body.

Rape culture is a social construct which normalizes sexual assault and harassment as something that women should put up with or even find flattering. It normalizes the objectification of women’s bodies and encourages hyper-masculinity. It tells society that a man is not a man unless he has loads of sexual conquests under his belt. It teaches boys that they should never take no for an answer, and girls that they cannot turn down a man’s advances for fear of being rude. It normalizes rape to the extent that often, women do not report their assault because they do not think it counts it as rape. They fear that others will think they are being overdramatic. Many women even believe that it is somehow their fault.

Society needs to understand that our bodies are our own and no one else has the right to them. Rape culture is rooted in the idea that male pleasure is top priority. Male entitlement is and always will be the root of almost everything toxic in society. Unlearning ideas that have been so ingrained in all of us is hard, but entirely necessary, and is a responsibility that often lands solely on women. We are in charge of what happens to our bodies and if you don’t have the express, ongoing, and enthusiastic permission, GET THE FUCK OUT.

Because a woman has a lot of sex, that means you have permission to have sex with her too right? WRONG

Because a woman wore revealing clothes and flirted, that means you have permission to have sex with her right? WRONG

Because a woman had too much to drink and can’t say no, that means you have permission to have sex with her right? WRONG

Because a woman has had sex with you before, that means you have permission to do it again right? WRONG

These women aren’t asking for it.

No one ever asks to be violated.

Your jokes are NOT funny. Your comments are NOT innocent and harmless. They degrade the severity of this issue and desensitize society towards rape.

No one ever has permission to a woman’s body unless it has been expressly and explicitly given by the woman herself. CONSENT IS IMPORTANT and both men and women alike, NEED to understand it in order to take down rape culture.

“No” does not mean “Convince me.”

“No” means “NO.”

The absence of "no" does not mean "yes."

Anything other than an enthusiastic and explicit "yes" means that you can fuck right off. 

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