Trigger Warning: This essay is on a heavy topic so if you are affected by this in any way, I ask you stop reading this due to the emotional topic this can become.
Rape culture is a serious problem in the known world and it includes sexual harassment, molestation, sexual assault, and anything in between. To narrow down the broadness of this term, Rape, according to Merriam-Webster is “to seize and take away by force” and culture is “the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also: the characteristic features of everyday existence (such as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time” (Merriam-Webster). The two words together, in accordance with the Oxford Dictionary, means “a society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse”. This explains the relationship of the two words but the problem is more revolving around the definition of rape. One of the biggest problem of the known world is rape and the culture of it. This problem ultimately affects everyone as well because it doesn’t matter your race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, etc. because it can be a problem for anyone. This problem can happen to anyone, anywhere and the anywhere is what we are going to be looking into. The places going to be discussed are places such as college, the workplace, as well as home and solutions are going to be explored to prevent rape and eliminate rape culture.
Parties and going clubbing seem to be common denominators for college so here is a little story. A girl and her friends decide to go to a party this weekend, a friend of a friend’s. The girl has a few drinks before she starts to loosen up and start to really have fun. She ends up meeting a guy who helps to keep her alcohol intake increasing till she’s completely intoxicated. He suggests taking her home or to a room and things escalate from there into sexual territory but because she is so far under the influence she doesn’t say no… because she can’t. Stopping this story here, this is a common happenstance at parties that because she can’t say no doesn’t ever mean she’s actually saying yes. Along with an earlier statement, this could be anyone, not just about a girl who drank too much and a boy who assumed a yes.
The fact that these examples are such a problem on college campuses isn’t even the majority of it. Due to rape culture, these sorts of things can be regarded highly by people. In the writing “Yes Means Yes”? Sexual Consent Policy and College Students by Kristen N. Jozkowski, the author finds reports from universities across the united states and talks about them in her article. In one specific report, she writes on a writing called the gullet report from a fraternity at the University of Southern California in 2011, which is a tracker so the fraternity president can award points for his brothers for however many women they sleep with. To quote Jozkowski, “The gullet report awarded points to men based on the number of women they engaged in sexual activity with; they earned more points if the women were perceived to be attractive. In the description of the tracking system, the author wrote, “Note, I will refer to females as ‘targets.’ They aren’t actual people like us men. Consequently, giving them a certain name or distinction is pointless.”” (17, 18). She then goes on to talk about how one of the rules the “Cocksmen” have is “non-consent and rape are two different things. There is a fine line, so make sure not to cross it” (18) which then continues on into talking about the fact that as long as they can get away with it, they’re in the clear. This isn’t one of the first examples and it is definitely not one of the lasts. Jozkowski goes too another report on a flier promoting the ability to get away with rape; “In 2012, a flier was posted in the men’s restrooms in a co-ed residence hall at Miami University of Ohio that read: “Top Ten Ways to Get Away with Rape.” The flier recommended, among other things, the rape of women who are unconscious: “Put drugs in the woman’s drink,” it counsels—“therefore she won’t remember you.” The last recommendation read: “Rape, rape, rape!! It’s college boys, live it up!!”” (18). There is also no report on whether or not the culprit behind this flier was ever found and tried. All of these are only a few examples of rape culture that doesn’t explicitly show the act of rape.
Although this may seem all very dreary and depressing, there are solutions to this problem. At Marshall University’s Women’s Center on rape culture, they provide a list of solutions ranging from “Think critically about the media’s messages about women, men, relationships, and violence” to “Always communicate with sexual partners and do not assume consent”. There are so many things we as a community can do to change the world around us for the better and the solution that fits this area of the problem would be both education and consent. Education is the main factor for college campuses so the proposition of an education course on consent and other factors for a requirement as part of one’s general education would be a beneficial piece of the continued education. The suggestions by Marshall University are absolutely necessary to promote this kind of change but education towards students who are willingly at the college for education is one of the best ways to go. Consent is a big thing for humanity so giving some sort of informative crash course on things like consent and what to do’s and what not to do’s but to also inform like a high school health class because college is one of the prime times of parties and clubbing. Informing the populace on things to do to protect one’s self and others as well as prevent it from happening to others is a worthwhile class to have to protect the students on campus.
Rape culture in the workplace isn’t a commonly talked about part of this topic, not nearly as common as college campuses; however, due to the media coverage on so many people and celebrities speaking up, this topic is soon becoming a large scale topic. In college, rape culture is viewed as almost a way of life or rite of passage but in the workplace, rape culture is vastly different. In a writing by Terry Byrne titled When Rape Strikes Close to Home, she leads into her main story with “Yet statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention remind us sexual assault is everywhere, and probably where we least expect it: Nearly one in five women and one in 71 men report experiencing rape at some point in their lives. In 2012, I learned my baby girl was one of them”. She then continues on with, “Rape culture is all around us. We live in the sick of it. It’s here in the newsroom, where more than a handful of women shared their rape stories with me after our family’s soul-flaying news broke” (Byrne). As of this time, this is all very close to home now and there is proof we are in the sick of it due to not only the media coverage on people coming forward over people abusing their power through sexual assault but also with the #metoo movement, also known as The Silence Breakers. One particular story that stuck out was about the housekeepers at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. These women were continuously harassed by both employees and co-workers alike. One of the women, in her interview, spoke on this; “she says, a co-worker began making crude remarks to her like “I can tell you had sex last night” and groping her. One of those encounters was even caught on camera, but the management did not properly respond, her lawyers say” (Time). This entire movement was voted as the Person (People) of the Year 2017 because it was such a big happenstance. In two more accounts listed in Time Magazine succeeding the previous story, more women mention their experiences with rape culture in the workplace, “ “‘Susan Fowler, the famous victim of sexual harassment,'” says the woman whose blog post ultimately led Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to resign and the multibillion-dollar startup to oust at least 20 other employees. “Nobody wants to be the buzzkill,” adds Lindsey Reynolds, one of the women who blew the whistle on a culture of harassment at the restaurant group run by the celebrity chef John Besh” (Time). Even continuing passed that and preceding those stories are more about workplace sexual harassment as well as sexual assault.
This continuous problem just seems never ending but there are ways to prevent these sorts of things. In the eBook Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Create a Better Workplace for Everyone by Lightle and Doucet, their solution for sexual harassment in the workplace is to develop a policy against it to prevent it. Their main solutions are “1. A broad anti-harassment/positive-environment policy that includes a statement specifically addressing sexual harassment /2. A separate sexual harassment policy that covers all organizational members /3. Separate sexual harassment policies—one that addresses non-management employees and one that addresses management” (37). These are all good solutions but the most likely to have an affect is the last policy due to the separation of powers because the policies should protect the employees from losing their job due to the fact their boss has the power over whether the employee keeps their job or not and can blackmail them to gain sexual favors. With this policy in place at all jobs a change can happen through the protection of the employees and the prevention of rape culture in the workplace.
This final location is a particularly emotional one because this one is aimed more at age rather than location in the sense of children being affected by rape culture more than one would think. According to Federal Action on Rape, Sexual Assault, and Domestic Violence by Serena Palmer, she begins the statistics with “Women and girls are the vast majority of victims: nearly 1 in 5 women –or nearly 22 million –have been raped in their lifetimes. Men and boys, however, are also at risk: 1 in 71 men –or almost 1.6 million –have been raped during their lives” (9) and then continues with the child statistics, “Young people are especially at risk: nearly half of female survivors were raped before they were 18, and over one-quarter of male survivors were raped before they were 10” (9). The pie chart is from Serena Palmer’s writing and shows the ages rape is most common in and how young the person is affects the probability of them being raped. Children being a factor is a hard but true one. Many people are more likely to experience some form of sexual assault in their earlier years when they are ignorant to what is being done and not understand it till later in life when they are educated on the matter. Children and any age victims alike are more likely to know their assaulter than for it to be a complete stranger, “51% of female victims were raped by a current or former intimate partner, and 41% were raped by an acquaintance. Stranger rape, in contrast, accounts for 14% of the total. Of men and boys, 52% report being raped by an acquaintance and 15% by a stranger”(Palmer 9). As these are just overviews for being male or female, it doesn’t take in the probability of sexuality nor race nor religion. The actual effects of what is taking place far out weighs whatever the assailant gets out of rape; “The psychological and physical consequences of rape are well-documented and include depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, sleep disturbance, sexual dysfunction, sexually transmitted infections, and suicidal thoughts (Boudreaux, Kilpatrick, Resnick, Best, & Saunders, 1998; Breslau et al., 1998; Kessler, Sonnega, Bromet, Hughes, & Nelson, 1995; Mechanic, 2004)”(Wilson 975-976). There are ways to prevent this and protect those of the future generation.
The reality of the commonality of this culture is an emotional one but to quote Serena Palmer, “Sexual assault is pervasive because our culture still allows it to persist”(7). However, “our culture” doesn’t have to be with way. With the correct education and informing the next generation, this culture can change and as a whole become more informed. The solution as a whole would be to teach the next generation from a young age about consent. Even teaching consent now can be helpful as well as implementing a consent course into an elementary curriculum can start that change. It may not solve all of the problems we are faced with rape culture but it will help prevent for at least the next generation.
To give a summary of what was written, in a “Too Long; Didn’t Read” (TL;DR), rape culture is a epidemic and can affect anyone, anywhere. In schools, such as colleges, “the [Presidential] Administration has issued new guidance to help schools, colleges and universities better understand their obligations to prevent and respond to sexual assault on their campuses” (Palmer 8). In the workplace, policies are being placed to protect the businesses employees. Finally, at home, education on consent at an early age can protect kids even before they fully understand. In everything you do that can affect another person’s well being or their body, ask for consent. Think of it in a “treat others as you would like to be treated” kind of light. All in all, gain consent and be kind to one another.
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