I am sick. I am sick of people, whether they be men or women, believing that rape culture is not real.
Rape culture is a term used to define the way in which our society perpetuates and excuses rape, while also blaming victims and sympathizing with perpetrators. It is no one person's fault, really, that rape culture goes unnoticed. It is an idea bred into society that most people choose to ignore or accept as normal because they are incapable of recognizing it as an issue. That's because challenging it is taboo. Challenging society is saying that someone is wrong, and people do not like to be wrong. It means admitting that our own words and actions are having a detrimental effect on others, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Societies actions are caught up in a dangerous web of commentary that place rape culture in a vicious cycle of re-occurrence. Let me remind you that society is us, all of us. Unfortunately, this will continue to happen until people can turn away from their own selfish motives and accept that there is a real problem in the way our society talks about, jokes about, and ultimately accepts rape as a normal occurrence because "boys will be boys" and "she was asking for it."
Examples of rape culture can be found everywhere, you do not have to look that hard. Whether it be in television, movies, music, fashion, advertisements, there is a subliminal or rather obvious cue that sexual violence is acceptable.
When rape is reported on the news it is the perpetrator that is often the one talked about. Many people often step forward defending the rapist for his actions. The most recent example of this is the Stanford case that has taken the Internet and the media into full force outrage. Most media outlets have labeled the perpetrator, Brock Turner as a "talented swimmer" rather than referring to him as a rapist, which he is. My question is, what does swimming have to do with this? Are people shocked that someone who could be such a great athlete could also be a horrible criminal with no respect for other human beings? So, rather than calling him a rapist, they label him a "talented swimmer" because it is easier to trick yourself into thinking he is a decent human being than accepting the fact that in this situation the only label he need be defined as is a rapist. That is rape culture.
If you are unfamiliar with the case, Brock Turner sexually assaulted an unconscious 23-year-old woman behind a dumpster after a party. The maximum sentence Turner could have received was 14 years and the prosecutor recommended a six-year sentence minimum. Shockingly, Turner was sentenced to only six months in county jail by Judge Aaron Persky (he will likely only serve three months in jail). "A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him. I think he will not be a danger to others," said Persky when sentencing Turner, convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault.
Prison would have a severe impact on him? Since when is the well-being of the rapist more important than that of the victim? This man diabolically attacked a woman incapable of defending herself because she was unconscious; an attack the woman cannot even recall in her mind because she was unconscious and the judge finds it necessary to ensure that no severe impact is had on the perpetrator of this horrific crime.
Brock Turner's father, Dan Turner even stated, "That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action." In a later statement, Dan Turner said his words had been misinterpreted and he had not been referring to "sexual activity" when he used the word action. First of all, it was not sexual activity, it was rape. Secondly, what else could he have possibly been referring to? 20 minutes of action? Please explain to me how rape just becomes "20 minutes of action." Sir, your son committed a heinous act on another human being and you see fit to call six months of his life a steep price to pay for, what the victim described in her moving letter to the courtroom, "I was found unconscious, with my hair disheveled, long necklace wrapped around my neck, bra pulled out of my dress, dress pulled off over my shoulders and pulled up above my waist, that I was butt naked all the way down to my boots, legs spread apart, and had been penetrated by a foreign object by someone I did not recognize."
The woman's letter was pages long and as she continues she says, "I read something that I will never forgive; I read that according to him, I liked it. I liked it. Again, I do not have words for these feelings. And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times. It’s like if you were to read an article where a car was hit, and found dented, in a ditch. But maybe the car enjoyed being hit. Maybe the other car didn’t mean to hit it, just bump it up a little bit. Cars get in accidents all the time, people aren’t always paying attention, can we really say who is at fault. She was found breathing, unresponsive with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach curled in fetal position. By the way, he’s really good at swimming. Throw in my mile time if that’s what we’re doing. I’m good at cooking, put that in there, I think the end is where you list your extracurriculars to cancel out all the sickening things that’ve happened."
This is a result of rape culture. This is a result of the belief that somehow, even in her unconscious state she was asking for it. Somehow, when she was incapable of communicating, she liked it. Somehow, she got drunk on purpose because she wanted to have sex, and if you do not believe that people think this way, just read these social media posts.
This is another example of over-generalizing and assuming that women can molest men because they like it as well. "Auto-consent" is not real. There is no reason anyone should ever put their hands on you unless you have said they can. If "Auto-consent" were real then it would be perfectly logical to say, "Oh you fell asleep? Must mean you want another human being to violate you." There is never, ever any excuse for violating another human being. No one would ever punch someone in the face while they unconscious on the ground and say "You were unconscious so I assumed you would want me to hurt you." The only reason rape is not talked about in that way is because sex is associated with pleasure, meaning if you touch someone in a sexual way, it must mean they liked it. Newsflash, that is not how that works. No one has the right to touch another human being.
This article only explains the tip of a very large iceberg that is hiding in our society. Rape culture is a very real thing that is perpetuated by the idea that sexual assault is the fault of the victim. Only by making a conscious effort to recognize its occurrences and correcting the words and actions of others can we effectively bring an end to this harmful normalization of rape in society. So challenge the norm, become the change.