It is almost inconceivable to see how our society has managed to progress so much in terms of science and technology yet we seem to be regressing at a 100 km/hr when it comes to our values and morals. In most developed countries, we can observe an alarming rise in many unwanted unethical trends and behaviors, one of which is our Rape Culture.
What is Rape Culture you ask? Rape Culture is an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture. It is a culture that includes jokes, TV, music, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words and imagery, that make violence and sexual coercion against women and other groups like LGBTQ seem so normal that people believe that rape is inevitable. Instead of seeing the culture of rape as a problem to change, people in a rape culture think about the persistence of rape as “just the way things are”. It is believed by many not to exist and that is exactly why it does exist. It is a culture where a women is degraded to less and seen as an object, an accessory to be used and abused as it pleases. Simply said, this culture excuses or otherwise tolerates sexual violence.
If you are one to think Rape Culture is rare and does not happen often, think again. This actually happens a lot, all the time, everyday and everywhere. To make you understand more clearly what I am referring to, I have included a few examples:
- The language we have adapted around sex is not only degrading, it promotes sexual violence and abuse (“Did you hit that ***?”,” I want to rip that ***” or “tap that”, etc…)
- Mainstream news encourages the culture by making excuses for the rapists and blaming the victims.
- Unwarranted gendered violence in movies and TV shows, some even targeting our developing childrens minds (‘Beauty and The Beast’ and ‘American Pie’)
- Music on the radio, which is enjoyed mostly by youth, directly promotes Rape Culture with songs like ‘Blurred Lines’ by Robin Thicke,’What Do You Mean’ by Justin Bieber and ‘Blame It on The Alcohol’ by Jamie Foxx feat. T-Pain.
- Blaming the victim (“she asked for it!”).
- Downplaying sexual assault (“Boys will be boys!”).
- Saying sexually explicit jokes and defending them.
- Defining “manhood” as dominant and sexually aggressive.
- Defining “womanhood” as submissive and sexually passive
- Assuming only promiscuous women get rape.
- People who believe that girls “allow themselves to be raped”.
- Supporting athletes who are charged with rape and calling their victims career-destroyers.
- Having sexual assault prevention education programs that focus on women being told to take measures to prevent rape instead of telling men not to rape.
- Assuming that false accusations reporting for sexual assault cases are the norm, when in reality, they’re only 2-8% of all reporting.
- The fact that only 3% of rapist serving even one day in jail.
- And the list goes on and on, and on, and on…
Hopefully all these examples gave you an idea of what Rape Culture is. As you become more aware of it, you will start to notice that it is all around you and that you can not escape it, even if you tried. The reason for this is because it is indoctrinated in our society. Even from before we are born, we are already identified and plugged into this way of thinking, subconsciously, by our parents (girls wear pink and “boys wear blue” or “boys wear pants and girls wear skirts”).
So what can we do, as individuals, to change this kind of mentality? If we each do our part in ending Rape Culture, we would live in a much more peaceful world with truly loving individuals and healthy relationships. A world where everyone could grow up being their genuine self and therefore being a positive and active individual in the community. We can have a world where no one has to conform, where differences and creativity is applauded upon and appreciated instead of ridiculed. Here are examples of things you can do to prevent Rape Culture from continuing and progressing:
- By far the most important thing to do is to speak up when witnessing inappropriate and demeaning sexual behavior whether it is aimed at you or another. When one person stands up it helps the others gather the courage to stand up too. Be that person. Break the silence.
- Get to know your media, some are less reliable then others (CNN, Fox News, etc…) and are more into spreading propaganda then giving accurate information. It is important to know that some of these companies are owned by people who profit from the evolution of this toxic and disgraceful mentality.
- Be aware of what you watch and listen to. The normalization of this culture on the radio and TV is increasingly unacceptable and is actively recorded and stored by your and your family’s subconscious therefore making sexual assault conventional.
- Talk about Rape Culture, at work, at a get together or in the bus, you will be surprised how many people agree that it exists and would love to get some info on how to prevent it. Plus, you will be an agent of change because only once people are aware of the problem can we start to find and work on improving the situation. We’ve been in this culture so long that even we use language that promotes the culture. Self-awareness is key here, catch it when you do it and change it.
- Always believe a victim. One of the most painful things about being victimized is facing the fact that people who should help and care about you don’t believe and support you in your hardest moments.This also makes it easier for predators to assault and get away with it.
- If you have been a victim or are a survivor of an act deriving from Rape Culture, share your story as often as you can. You will be surprised to hear all the other people around you that are suffering in the dark, you can be their light.
- Create a safe community by calling out predators in the community to create transparency.
- Share info on Rape Culture with others through the media (articles, posts, images, quotes, etc…)
To show that we still have a long way to go with this issue, one of the most influential countries has just elected an openly narcissistic leader who has no problem downplaying the seriousness of sexual coercion therefore deepening the wound of this threat. This is a saddening event for all of us victims and survivors of sexual abuse, it hit me like a slap in the face.
At first I felt hopeless, what is the use to fight when even Presidents support Rape Culture? How can we change it, when it is indoctrinated deep in our roots, trickled down from generation to generation? It made me anxious and I started to think that I couldn’t possibility make a dent in the fight against this monster…
Henry Ford said “If you think you can or if you think you can’t, you are right” and so I think that I can make a change, as a matter of fact together we can move mountains. I will never give up the fight. I, along with many others, will speak up, stand up and let the world hear our stories and how Rape Culture is not “just the way it is”. I believe that united in action we can bring awareness and bring Rape Culture to light and therefore showing that it is real, alive and not only exists, but it is plaguing our communities and depleting the quality of life of our future generations.
Break the silence! Speak up!
- Life Coach to victims and survivors of abuse
- Nurse, Humanitarian
- Survivor of childhood & adulthood sexual abuse
- Domestic violence History of Substance
- Abuse and single parent
- Activist & Public Speaker