Recognize rape culture, help prevent the silence
Published: Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, October 5, 2011 16:10
Sexual assault is a crime that takes shape in many forms. It includes attacks such as rape or attempted rape, sodomy, child molestation, incest or fondling. Assailants can be strangers, acquaintances, friends or family members, and they commit these crimes by way of violence, threats, coercion, manipulation, pressure or tricks. Whatever the circumstances, whoever the assailant, no one asks or deserves to be sexually assaulted — and that is the bottom line.
Here on a college campus, it is estimated by the U.S. Department of Justice that one out of five college women will be sexually assaulted at some point within her academic years. And when a woman is sexually assaulted on a college campus, her most common reaction is to keep quiet.
With Domestic Violence Awareness Month before us, it is time for us to speak out and be heard. We live in a world where rape is often viewed as the victim's fault or as a crime that can't really exist.
It's called rape culture, and it is defined as "a complex of beliefs that encourages male sexual aggression and supports violence against women." Rape culture is rooted in our patriarchal society and lies within the concept that women are the possession of men. Possession alludes to objectification of women, which is another component of rape culture.
There are those who deny the existence of a rape culture and will instead argue that situations of "campus rape cases exist in the gray area of seeming cooperation and tacit consent." Ergo, rape culture is just a myth, and most cases of rape would not actually be considered rape because they are, in fact, consensual.
In contrast, I would argue that rape culture is everywhere. We see it among our favorite films and video games. Take for instance movies like Observe and Report, which makes a joke of the raping of a drunk, vomiting woman. In video games like Grand Theft Auto, your character can sexually assault prostitutes and passersby. Rape culture is even expressed through everyday conversations with the all-too-common phrase of "I totally raped that quiz."
With examples like these, I find it incredibly frustrating that there are those who still refuse to acknowledge the existence of rape culture. Take into consideration a passerby at UCF's SlutWalk. SlutWalk is a global movement started by a Canadian officer who advised young women that they should not dress like "sluts" if they did not want to get raped. His words were rooted in rape culture, and his notion of blaming the victim launched an international campaign to end slut-shaming. The unnamed passerby at SlutWalk heckled the crowd as he walked by and asserted that "rape has nothing to do with sluts."
He's right. Rape shouldn't have anything to do with so-called sluts. Rape is not initiated by short skirts, cleavage, flirty behavior or quick eye contact. Rape is not caused by late night party-goers or even late night joggers. Rape is not a woman's fault. But our rape culture disagrees; and until we accept the fact that rape culture is real, until we accept the notion that women are frequently objectified and thus treated like objects, we are never going to break the cycle of blaming the victim, or in this case, blaming the slut.
My hope for this month and for months to come is that we re-evaluate our perceptions of rape and begin to demand more from our society. Women should not be scared of getting raped if our skirts are too short, if our drinks are too heavy or if the night is too dark. We are human and deserve to be treated as such. If you're ignoring the rape culture, you are only adding more silence to an issue that deserves more noise.