Rape culture an epidemic
This is important to me because this is the reality and daily fear for the majority of people, including women and children. This essay will benefit anybody who is afraid to tell their story, afraid to wear the “wrong” thing or to look at the wrong person, it is not your fault and this mindset that our societies have cultivated is not okay. The Google definition of Rape culture is a society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse. This is seen in our everyday lives, in our schools dress codes as young as elementary, today’s fashion and in personal experiences for almost every women. This does not just affect our women but our men too. Not teaching what consent is, letting the mentality of “boys will be boys” not holding men accountable for their actions. Along with the double standards that stand as brick walls for both genders. As hard as we try and maneuver our way through this horrible and problematic epidemic of rape culture, it is not only exhausting but also seems like a lost cause for most, that no matter how hard we try it doesn’t seem we can rise above it. The lack of education on sexual harassment and violence is also not very helpful but most worry sum. When it comes to women especially or people who seem “weak” all basic respect and courtesy is thrown out the window.
Don’t be a distraction
This phrase unfortunately has been heard a multitude of times to our young girls still in grade school and later in life. The debate on pros and cons of school dress codes is not new, but being said many times that dress codes specifically targets our young girls, this is not excusable. In Brynne Thomas T.E.D talk “A life of rape culture” she talks about the first time she was Slut shamed in the first grade. The young girl pulled her shirt down to expose her shoulders and was pulled to the side by her teacher being told she shouldn’t be exposing herself as so because of the wrong impression it was giving off and that this made her look slutty. Telling a young girl that having her shoulders out would give off the “wrong impression” is not only extremely damaging but also wildly inappropriate. Insider.com has a whole article on dress codes targeting young girls, from wearing ripped jeans, shorts that are “too short”, having collar bones exposed and even not wearing a bra. Which most of the punishments resulted in class suspension or student being sent home. One of the most troubling story was a high school principal in South Carolina telling students in regard to the legging policy that “I’ve told you this before, I’m going to tell you this now, unless you are a size zero or two and you wear something like that, even though you’re not fat, you look fat,” ( Insider) not only shaming the girls for wearing comfortable full legged bottoms but also for their weight. Creating the mindset that we are just objects and that our comfort and more importantly our education is to come secondary to the comfort of our male peers and instructors. In most cases female students are not the only ones concerned with this almost blatant objectification. San Benito High School in California Fifty students were sent home for wearing off the shoulder tops, which later resulted in a school wide protest where all genders came to school wearing the “ distracting” off the shoulder top. (Insider). The school later discussing with the students why they decided to protest and later announcing that the school would never blame female students for distracting others with their choice of clothing. The most common question in regards in how women dress is “ Why would she wear that?” not “ Why are you sexualizing her for wearing that?” These are young girls that our society is telling to cover up, instead of telling our males to not get turned on by these young girls.
But she was asking for it
In the compilation of personal encounterments of survivors of rape culture “Not that bad” by Roxane Gay, one of the perspectives was of Aubrey Hirsch. Hirsch’s story about how she was berated by a known friend for taking her birth control publicly and being told that if she someone sees her than that would make her an easy target and letting her male peers think that there would be no repercussions for raping her (1) For those who do not know birth control is not only taken as a form of contraception but for a number of other reasons. Such as making menstrual cycles more manageable, controlling acne, reducing risk of ovarian cancer and cysts and maintaining weight. Birth control (pill form) must be taken everyday at the same time and preferably with food, just as any other form of long term medication. Taking birth control is not open invitation for being taken advantage of. In Hirsch’s case she did start taking her birth control to make her period more manageable. This attitude that “she’s asking for it” may seem to be something that a “feminazi” would say blowing “innocent” phrases that are embedded in our psyche out of proportion such as “if he hits you it means he likes you”. Which may have a valid argument if not for North Carolina having a “loophole” making rape legal. In 1979 Northern Carolina supreme court passed a law stating that a woman can not be raped if she consented to sex even if later she revokes it. Meaning women can not legally revoke consent, the initial case was about a woman who said a date threatened to kill her if she didn’t have sex with him. The Supreme Court later found that: “If the actual penetration is accomplished with the woman’s consent, the accused is not guilty of rape, although he may be guilty of another crime because of his subsequent actions.”( NBC new) Having your life on the line and feeling that the only way to come out of a situation alive is to give in to sex is not consent it is a ultimatum. This is the definition of rape culture normalizing sexual abuse.
According to the NSVRC ( National sexual violence research center) One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives,and that One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old. Young children are targeted just as much as women, being that only 12% of child sexual abuse is ever reported to the authorities (NSVRC).
Then prove it!!
Some scholars argue whether or not rape culture is a real epidemic or question its existence. For lawyer and writer Luke Gittos, he writes in this book “Why Rape Culture is a Dangerous Myth” that “ Many of the ideas which persist around rape today attempt to attach certainty to statistics which are inherently open to interpretation” (1). Stating that statistics are not based on facts. Suggesting that statistics to be “open to interpretation” is a contradiction to what statistics are, based on scientific evidence. Another point that Gittos makes is that instead of siding with the victim we should have the sympathy for the predator. Using innocent until proven guilty, understandably so. However what would be sufficient evidence if a rape test kit was unable to get done? The victim typically does not pull out a phone to record the horrendous act and if a rape test kit is used within the preferred five days how long does it actually take to get results back? Reported by multiple news articles such as the Washington post and San Francisco chronicle rape test kits have a tremendous wait time to actually be tested, decades of test still on shelves waiting to be tested. “In New York City, an estimated 17,000 kits went untested. In Houston, there were 6,000. In Detroit, Los Angeles and Memphis, there were more than 11,000 each. Over the past two decades, the “rape kit backlog” ( Washington post).” If DNA of the assailant is found but they argue that it was consensual sex the Rape kit does not do much to provide evidence that it was assault, only relying on if any other physical harm was done such as bruising or bleeding. The NSVRC provides that only 2-10% of rape reports are false and that rape is the most under reported crime being that only 63% of sexual assaults are reported.
This is our problem
In another narrative by Hirsch in “ Not that bad” she shares that being an English teacher she has her students write fictional literacy that often end up being about rape. The most unfortunate truth about this is that the students do not see that they have the protagonist actually becomes the antagonist when they rape the damsel in distress. One of the most unsettling stories she shared was one if her students wrote about a couple at a party, the women was so drunk that she could not walk or stand the he proceeded to have sex with her (he rape her) (6). Later coming to light that this was a retelling of how this boy and his girlfriend got together. When Aubrey talked to her student he was at awe when she was discussing that the character in the story was raping the women. The man did not know he was a rapist because no one called him out on it and it did not fall under the typical image of rape. In the TED talk by Jackson Katz “Violence against women it’s a men’s issue, he argues that this rape culture epidemic is a not a “women’s” issue but a societal problem. Bring up the bystander mentality when men let other men passively objectify women or make sexist statements and pass it off as “ locker room talk” or “ its just a joke”. Letting it be known that the main predator is the man but we don’t feel that men have a part of fixing this problem. He calls out how damaging this is not only for our women but also for our young men, having these toxic male role models. Seeing these men that treat our mothers our sisters like objects, he then learns that this is what a “man” does and subconsciously learning this behavior. Katz encourages men to be microphones for our women that society tries so incredibly hard to silence. In today’s world a women can be saying the same thing a man is but only the man is heard, in order to fix this men need to start advocating for us just as they would for their mother or aunt or sister.
1.TEDxTalks. “A Life Of Rape Culture | Brynne Thomas | TEDxYouth@TCS.” YouTube, YouTube, 31 May 2015, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYppe9kyUxY. Brynne talks about at a young age her eyes were opened to the rape culture we live in and hoe scary it was/is personally for her. I plan to use this to show how young we are when we are attacked for being girls.
2 Gay, Roxane. Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture. HarperCollins, 2018. Professor Gay has created a compilation of real life stories from survivors of sexual abuse. Discussing how in our society we tend to blame the victims and the norm of sexual abuse promoting the ignorance of what is and what is not rape, sexual harassment or sexual abuse. Having multiple accounts of the predator being blind to the fact that they had just committed the unspeakable crime of rape. I will use this source to show how both genders are effected by our societal norms.
3 “Get Statistics.” Sexual Assault Statistics | National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), www.nsvrc.org/statistics. A resource page on sexual assaults, I plan to use this to show rape statistics.
4 Gittos, Luke. Why Rape Culture Is a Dangerous Myth: from Steubenville to Ched Evans. Imprint Academic, 2015. Gittos is British writer and lawyer, writing about the falsehood of rape culture.Discussing the topics of victim blaming and Personal life should stay personal. I plan to use this to show that there are still scholars who disbelieve the rape culture.
5 Gutierrez, Melody, and Kimberly Veklerov. “Efforts to Clear California’s Rape Kit Testing Backlog Fall Short.” San Francisco Chronicle, Houston Chronicle, 17 Mar. 2018, www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/Efforts-to-clear-California-s-rape-kit-testing-12760627.php. This article is explaining the efforts of california to try and speed up the rape kit tests, and how so many kits have gone untested
6 Katz, Jackson. “Violence against Women — It’s a Men’s Issue.” TED: Ideas Worth Spreading, http://www.ted.com/talks/jackson_katz_violence_against_women_it_s_a_men_s_issue?language=en#t-879841.Katz is a scholar discussing the how our rape culture is “not just women’s problem that some good men help with”. Letting it be known that this is not a battle of sexis. I am using to show everyone has a part and is negatively influenced by this. Speaking out educating that men and boys are also victims.
7 Lakritz, Talia. “16 Times Students and Parents Said School Dress Codes Went Too Far.” INSIDER, INSIDER, 5 Oct. 2018, www.thisisinsider.com/school-dress-code-rules-controversy-2018-8. This article is showing how girls are targeted with school dress code, Iplan to use this to show how we as a society we sexualize our young girls
8 thamesvalleypoliceuk. “Tea and Consent.” YouTube, YouTube, 16 Nov. 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZwvrxVavnQ. A video on what consent is, I plan to use this to explain how simple consent is
9 “This Loophole Fails to Protect Some Rape Victims in North Carolina.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/north-carolina-legal-loophole-says-women-can-t-withdraw-consent-n776026. This article shows the rape laws in North Carolina I plan to use this to show that our society does dismiss rape
10 “Years-Old Rape Kits Are Finally Being Tested. No One Can Agree on What to Do next.” The Washington Post, WP Company, www.washingtonpost.com/news/style/wp/2018/02/20/feature/decades-worth-of-rape-kits-are-finally-being-tested-no-one-can-agree-on-what-to-do-next/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.8ccd186c7bce. I plan to use this article to show how many rape test kits go untested and how effective they are if tested.