What Does Rape Culture Really Mean?
It can sound like a gross exaggeration of reality. I mean not everyone gets raped right? Well...Right.
we live in a culture where
Sexual assault occurs every 73(!) seconds in the US.
That means that our children, especially our daughters, have an outrageous chance of being assaulted in their lifetimes.
1 out of every 6 American women have been the victim of
an attempted or completed rape
Rape culture is an environment where girls must constantly live with instructions of what not to do: don't go here, don't go out at this hour, don't wear/drink/partake in that. Even if they aren't raped or killed, their sense of freedom and confidence is. The message is surrender your freedom or risk being robbed of it in the most terrible way imaginable.
Rape culture refers to a cultural environment that creates a context where rape is okay or at least not that big of a deal. Rape culture normalizes, trivializes, accepts and even encourages gender violence.
Here are just a few all-too-common examples of rape culture:
Being told "you're overreacting/too sensitive" if you choose to call out street harassment
Music that glorifies rape
Supporting rapists: men found guilty of rape are shown sympathy for their "ruined futures" and victims are often harassed and called "career-destroyers"
Diminishing or trivializing the trauma and violence of rape and sexual assault
Teaching our daughters how to not get raped rather than teaching our sons not to rape
Neglect of untested rape kits and general non-prioritization of sexual assault among police forces
Double standards: Blaming girls for luring boys into sin with sexiness
Socialization of girls to expect sexual violence and aggression (e.g., he's probably mean to you because he likes you; boys will be boys)
Language in the media that refers to rape as: sex, non-consensual sex, inappropriate behavior, or sexual misconduct. Nope, it's just RAPE.
You may have the urge to click off this page right now. I mean who wants to believe they live in a world where violence is socially sanctioned?
The truth is, male aggression in American culture is considered pretty normal. And rape is an extreme manifestation of pervasive societal misogyny and sexism.
We used to think (wanted to believe) rape was rare because it was too stigmatizing and humiliating for women to talk about and there was/is police apathy in handling rape cases.
But now we know, rape and sexual violence are common crimes across the country — not rare or exceptional crimes committed by crazed or damaged individuals.
We used to think rape was desire for sexual pleasure.
But now we know it's a desire for male domination, intimidation, and a sense of control over gender norms.
We used to think (and many still do) that it's a male prerogative.
It took until 1993 for marital rape to be considered a crime in all 50 States.
Feminists have worked hard BUSTING RAPE MYTHS that allow rape culture to flourish:
1) Any woman can be a rape victim regardless of age, size, shape, ethnicity, or status (doesn't matter what you look like or choose to wear)
2) Any man can be a rapist, not just "evil" or "mentally ill" men as thought in previous decades.
3) Rape can occur in many different forms besides the stereotype of a violent, forceful rape done by a stranger (most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows).