This is an opinion piece and is meant for kids older than 15 years of age
Written by Samaira Aima, a grade 11 student.
Rape culture is an environment or culture in which rape and sexual assault are treated as normal, trivial, or even expected due to societal attitudes and actions about gender and sexuality. Rape jokes, victim-blaming, casual sexism, acceptance of toxic masculinity, and violent crimes against women are all a part of this culture.
The use of misogynistic rhetoric, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence all contribute to the perpetuation of rape culture. The media fuels this culture in terms of misogynist songs, problematic lyrics, etc. All these thereby create a society that disregards women’s rights and safety. The general terminology around rape or sexual assault, regarding how these terms are used and described is also problematic. Some mistakes are more permissible than others, but using the word “RAPE” in casual and incorrect contexts is inexcusable. NO, the math test did not rape you. Clearly, the person who made this inappropriate comment didn’t mean it literally. They were using the word “RAPE” to express their inability to pass an exam or perhaps to describe its difficulty. The use of rape for comic relief trivialises the trauma of victims and also normalises the idea of rape.
Stalking, molestation, and sending unsolicited sexual images all contribute to the humiliation of women. Rape culture normalises acts of groping, sexual harassment, and sexual coercion, thereby taking away women’s authority over their own bodies. Tolerating this kind of behaviour fosters a culture in which acts of violence, such as rape, honour killings, acid attacks, and domestic violence, are excused.
Just because you’re not a rapist doesn’t mean you don’t contribute to rape culture.
Examples of Rape Culture
Rape jokes and Trivializing sexual assault
Trivialising sexual assault is an example of rape culture. We foster rape culture and trivialise an essential issue when we laugh at fraternity chants like “No means Yes” with the argument that “Boys will be Boys.” When we turn rape into a joke, it becomes more difficult to take true rape allegations seriously. When we don’t take rape allegations seriously, rape becomes more acceptable.
Victim-blaming implies that rape is expected in certain circumstances. We legitimise rape and blame the victims for the crimes of their abusers by asking questions like “What was she doing there?” or “How intoxicated was she? We are allowing rape to continue when we don’t hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes.
We are giving out the message that women are less than human when we objectify them. And if they are simply objects rather than individuals, sexual violence on women seems more acceptable. Sexual objectification of women is seen to be more prominent in the R&B/Hip-Hop and Pop Music Video genre.
We validate people who argue that women “ask for it” ( deserve to be raped) by wearing revealing clothes or having a lot of sexual partners when we criticise or shame them for having sex.
Why is victim-blaming dangerous?
Victim-blaming attitudes make the victim/survivor defensive and makes it more difficult for them to come forward and report the abuse. Victim-blaming attitudes further reinforce what the abuser has been saying all along: That the victim is to blame for what has happened. Society enables the abuser to perpetrate relationship abuse or sexual assault by adopting victim-blaming attitudes.
How can WE as a society combat Rape Culture?
- If you witness someone making an offensive joke or trivialising rape, CALL THEM OUT
- Do not use language that degrades or objectifies women
- Hold abusers accountable for their acts: do not allow them to manufacture excuses for their actions
- Always converse with your sexual partners and do not take their consent for granted
- Adopt Zero-Tolerance policies for sexual harassment and violence in the places where you live, work and play
The fact is, rape and sexual harassment are real issues that are not to be taken lightly. Rape culture is everyone’s issue, regardless of gender.
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