“Rape culture is a term that was coined by feminists in the United States in the 1970s. It was designed to show the ways in which society blamed victims of sexual assault and normalized male sexual violence,” (wavaw.com). Being an advocate for sexual assault victims and to end the stigma involving sexual assault is a topic I have been passionate about for quite some time. But recently, some things I have heard coming from the mouths of people I trust about this topic has opened my eyes. When I hear excuses, justification, and jokes come from people, it honestly knocks the breath out of me.
In American culture, it is almost a reflex to avoid uncomfortable topics when speaking to others. But here is the thing, if we do not talk about the uncomfortable topics, they will continue to happen. Rape and sexual assault is an uncomfortable topic. There is no need to sugar coat or make light out of something that is terrifying and demeaning and violent. If you are uncomfortable when talking about sexual assault; good. It is not something we should ever feel comfortable with as a culture and as individuals.
With that being said, in my time at college, I have heard a lot of intelligent people I once admired making excuses and sugar coating such a malicious thing. Especially things like:
“She only said she was raped because she regrets it.”
“Well, she does have a reputation for sleeping around.”
“She was way too drunk.”
Well, surprise! All of those justifications are not only offensive but also false. Women, and men, do not report sexual abuse because they “regret” it. A person can say yes a thousand times and say no once, and guess what? That no means no. And no amount of liquor ever excuses such disgusting behavior.
But most importantly, making jokes on this topic is honestly the most shameful thing anyone can do. JOKES! I must have missed the punch line because I never realized sexual assault was a joke. When someone makes a light jab about sexual assault, that is like looking into the face of a sexual assault survivor and telling them that what happened to them was not completely wrong.
If you have said any of these things, or done any of these things, that means you have contributed to rape culture. Instead of victim blaming, why don't we blame the perpetrator? Instead of making light and joking with the situation, how about being an advocate and taking the situation seriously?
No more excuses. You control what you say. And you control what you do.