Let's Eliminate Rape Culture

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By Kay-Ann Henry

A lot of tension is built up around the topic of rape. Authorities try to put in place measures to stop rape but what they fail to realize is, to stop rape from happening we need to acknowledge that we are living in a rape culture. What is rape culture you may ask? 

Rape culture is a term coined by feminists to show the ways how society normalizes rape and sexual violence. Many people reject the fact that it exists. Newsflash here people: to eliminate something we must first recognize its presence. Rape culture exists because we want to believe it doesn't. From subtle acceptances of misogyny to our casual everyday conversation, we accept the degradation of women and we don't even know it.

Things such as victim blaming and the objectification of women has become the norm for our society. Recent research shows that approximately one third of young men believe it is OK to force a young woman to have sex if she has "led him on". In other words they believe they have the right to use violence to make a girl do what they want, regardless of that girl's wishes, rights or needs. Excuse my pathos but only a ruthless and heartless human being can rape a woman and believe it’s okay. 

Our society needs to be re-taught the importance of a woman. Teach young men the value that a woman holds, regardless of what she is wearing. Teach them that woman means strong and it means soft. Once we get this into people’s heads, then maybe we're on the path of stopping this endemic of rape. Where I reside, not a day goes by where I don’t recognize all the examples of rape culture. They are guys who wear shirts that say "Keep Calm and Rape A Lot" and who called losing a sports game "getting raped" and guys who think getting raped is a girl's fault. But I believe we can end rape culture if we stop doing these two simple things:

1. Stop victim blaming
This is the cornerstone of rape and it needs to end. Many of us heard from our parents, "Boys will be boys, so girls must take care"--the message being that we can avoid unwanted male attention if only we are careful enough. If anything goes wrong, it must be our fault. Blaming the victim releases the man who commits violence from the responsibility for what he has done. When we hear about a sexual incident and the first thing we question is the victim's clothes or sobriety, we should be ashamed of ourselves. The victim is a human just like any of us. If a person was raped, they brutally had their consent taken away from them and someone violated their rights. The first question we ask should not be “What were they doing/wearing/saying when they was raped?”, instead it should be "What made the perpetrator think this is acceptable?"

2. Stop objectifying and sexualizing women so much
The difference between appreciating and objectifying women is clear; learn it. Simply, objectifying women is when you're treating them like an object and not a human being. When men do this, it devalues women of all the things they deserve like respect, honor and equality. Violet Rose once said "It is illegal for women to go topless in most cities, yet you can buy a magazine of a woman without her top on at any 7-11 store. So, you can sell breasts, but you cannot wear breasts, in America." This is a key example of how the media is the driving force in the spread of rape culture. Sexual objectification of women enhances rape because it tells us women are nothing more than an object and raping them isn't all that bad since an object is not a living thing. Sadly, this is the real reality women face and it needs to stop. Women are not just sexual beings. Women are not objects. They are sexual beings, mothers, creators, leaders, fighters, educators, humans. Women are beautiful. Let's start treating them that way.

It might not be easy (and I can guarantee you it won't) but it's the simple things that can have a huge effect. When someone rapes another and takes away their choice, we should not be the one to take away their voice by blaming them over things they can't control. Being raped is never someone's fault. No one ever asks to be raped. It is illegal because it dehumanizes a person and takes away those rights that are inherently theirs. It strips away their dignity and pride and leaves them feeling emotionally and psychologically naked. When we condone a rapist's behaviors, we are just as bad as them. So today enlighten someone about rape culture. Teach them as you've been taught. Pass along the message and we'll be one step closer to eliminating rape culture. 



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