I've been hearing about wrong-doers getting away with their criminal actions since before I knew O.J. stood for Orenthal James.
From the wrongly accused getting put away to letting the unlawful walk, the U.S. court system keeps letting us down. Victims of rape, domestic violence, and sexual abuse resonate with this struggle too often. Unfortunately, it's not just the court system that keeps failing rape victims, it's all of us.
The term "rape culture" has been introduced and shared throughout feminist circles to describe a poor social conditioning that is experienced culturally. It refers to a set of actions that affect every woman. Don't get me wrong, rape culture also includes trans and gender non-conforming people (and cis men), at disturbingly high rates.
I understand it's a people's issue — gender aside. However, it's not a secret that rape culture affects women on a much broader scale.
The simple fact that most women limit their behaviors because of the existence and possibilities of rape, says more than I ever could. Compared to men, more females live in fear of rape. Women think twice about the short skirt they wear, while men have no issue streaking in public.
Rape culture showcases rape as prevalent and sexual violence against women as normal or excused in the media and popular culture. It's about a ridiculous amount of cultural practices that we, unfortunately, all take part in as a society. Rape culture refers to situations in which sexual assault and rape are normalized.
Rape victims get taken advantage of every day, and not just by their perpetrators. If we can't understand how our society normalizes rape, sexual assault, or domestic violence, how can we expect positive change? Skewed interpretations of what rape culture means make it easier to deny it's happening and harder to prevent it. The examples below are more than just anecdotal or isolated incidents, rather they are small parts of a large societal trend.
Rape culture is…
1. Adding pressure to victims to speak up about their rape because their rape kit has an expiration date.
2. A pop song telling young girls “blurred lines" (consent) means “you know you want it."
3. A judge sentencing a 50-year-old man to just 30 days in jail because the 14-year-old girl he raped seemed “older than her chronological age."
4. Offering support to athletes who are charged with rape, because their victims basically ruined their careers.
5. Companies creating decals of women bound and tied to bring in new clientele and “promote their business."
6. The justice system that fails to hold rapists accountable for their actions.
7. People who blame survivors instead of the perpetrators.
8. Sayings like “boys will be boys."
9. Sayings like “if he ignores you or is mean to you it means he likes you."
10. Simply assuming sexual assault cases are usually false, when in fact only 2-8 % are.
11. Journalists who think it's okay to use the words “sex" and “rape" interchangeably. They are NOT the same.
12. Politicians who say rape is “something that God intended to happen" or that rape is sometimes considered “legitimate rape."
13. Calling students or ANYONE a liar for having the courage to report their rapists.
14. Telling victims they are overreacting if they happen to call someone out for catcalling them.
15. Rape jokes.
16. Sexual assault jokes.
17. People who tell women they need to take certain precautions to prevent rape, instead of telling men to NOT rape.
18. Reddit threads like, “You just have to make sure she's dead" and then linking it to the story of a 13-year-old girl who got raped and buried alive in Pakistan.
19. Reddit threads who support men causing pain to women during sex.
20. Hashtags that support accused rapists.
21. Defending celebrities who are accused of rape simply because of their social status, without listening to the victim's story.
22. When more women feel scared to walk outside at night than men.
23. When most men have never checked their back seat to make sure no one was there.
24. According to the CDC, one in five women reports experiencing rape versus one in 71 men.
25. Prestigious universities covering up campus rapes to maintain a positive reputation.
26. Phrases like, “suck my dick" or “fuck you."
27. Using the word rape as a substitute for winning: “I just raped that game!" Or using it in the opposite context: “That game raped me!"
I could easily keep going, and by now I'm sure you've caught on to what rape culture really signifies. Examples are everywhere and they permeate our society on all levels. Why is this even important or significant? Because together we can make a difference. The more people that become aware and get on board, the less rape will become normalized.
Society, as a whole, needs to understand that rape is NOT okay, and it NEVER will be.