Rape Culture Harms Women Everyday
The rape culture in today’s society can be seen in everyday interactions and has become normalized, making women often feel unsafe and disrespected in their daily lives.
By Cecelia Heckman
Rape Culture Normalizes Sexual Violence, Blames Victims
The concept of rape culture has been around for centuries, but it was not recognized until the 1970s. The phrase initially was used to show how victims of sexual violence are blamed for their experience and male predators are justified for sexual violence, normalizing sexual violence and abuse. Today, rape culture mostly affects women but men and members of the LGBTQ+ community can be affected as well.
Rape culture is exposed through misogynist or misandrist language that objectifies human beings. The removal of a person’s basic human rights encourages sexual violence and abuse. Encouraging sexual violence and abuse can lead to its normalization. Furthermore, the normalization of sexual violence and abuse in society is a key component to the continuation of this heinous act.
Rape culture exists in our daily lives in video games, music, pornography, film, cultural norms and social interaction. Through this pop culture, we see and hear misogynistic and mindarostic language, the objectification of human beings and romanticized sexual violence.
“Rape culture is something that I think a lot of people, it’s a buzzword, but a lot of people might not know what that means, but the way that I see it rape culture is just a way that, number one that sort of excuses and condones that behavior. We see a lot of language that blames the survivor, saying well what did that person do to deserve it, what were they wearing,” Angela Rose, Founder and Executive Director of Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment (PAVE), said. “A lot of that is perpetuated from the media, it’s perpetuated even from our pop culture, things that we listen to, music, things that we see on TV.”
“I think that we really need to challenge that. We need to challenge what traditional masculinity has been in the past and same thing for femininity, that we can have a voice, we can be strong and still be feminine,” Rose continued. “And for men, they can be respectful and do the dishes and, you know, my husband and I we also share household chores and it’s little things like that can really make a big difference in the family.”
In a study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) from 2005-2010, 13 percent of victims of sexual violent crimes did not report to the police because they believed the police would not do anything to help.
“I was kidnapped from a shopping mall when I was a teenager and was just really blown away on how badly I was treated when I went to report what happened to me. So, for me, it wasn’t just the experience of being sexually assaulted that catapulted me into activist. It was how I saw the level of difficulty and the level of victim blame that existed in the police station when I tried to get the help that I knew that I deserved,” Rose said.
According to the briefing Changing Cultural and Social Norms That Support Violence, cultural norms, which are guidelines to the way in which a society lives, can lead to and support sexual violence. Cultural norms influence behavior and decision making not excluding behaviors and decisions based on violence.
The same study from the BJS reported that another 13 percent victims of sexual violence crimes from 2005-2010 did not report to the police because they believed the violent act was a personal matter.
Monique Doran, a survivor of domestic violence through her father, realized this issue when telling her mother about her abuse.
“She didn’t believe me, she put my stuff out on the streets. I had to take care and fend for myself since the age of 15. She behaved like a majority of the typical mothers usually respond, especially when there’s a close connection to the abuser or the rapist,” Doran said.
Unfortunately, the silence enforced on sexual violence victims and survivors is global, not just in the United States.
“It’s a very hushed up subject and, you know, I have European friends, I have friends from Africa, I have friends from all over the world really, France, everywhere,” Doran said. “And it seems to me to be the same thing all around. The survivor is the one that gets the blunt end of things, and it seems as if our society, the global society pacifies, you know, the rapists. It’s almost as if we protect them as a society like oh girl come on get over it. It happened a while ago, boys will be boys. But I’m here to say a new day has come. Boys will not be boys. Boys will be held accountable.”
By Carmen Frias