In both the United States and around the world there are prevalent attitudes and practices that normalize, excuse, tolerate, and even condone rape. This is the definition of Rape Culture, and it has been exemplified by many highly publicized cases this year, such the Steubenville rape case in Ohio and the gang rape that caused outrage in Delhi. The purpose of comparing these two very different cases of rape is to show that on varying degrees, Rape Culture is prominent both on the other side of the world, and right here in small town America.
Rape Culture is rooted in victim blaming. “She’s asking for it”, when a women wears a figure flattering dress or a short skirt. “She owes me” when she accepts a free drink or a walk home. “No means yes”, when she has been with other men. Here are some of the tweets from the public after a guilty verdict was reached in the Steubenville rape case earlier this year.
How can we change and eventually get rid of Rape Culture? In the past, the pattern has been to educate girls on how not to get raped. Don’t wear “inviting clothing” or drink too much or walk home alone – and if you do, your fate is your fault. No, we need to hold our boys, and everyone, to a higher standard. Rape Culture isn’t changing and won’t change if this is our solution. Here are three points that need to be internalized and communicated to both girls and especially boys and men that can help fight Rape Culture:
Language is powerful – Use humane and respectful language in regards to women, don’t trivialize the word “rape” or the idea of rape. After all, our words become our actions.
Bodily autonomy – Consent can never be assumed, you are in charge of your body, and only yours – no one else’s.
Speak out – Although you may not have an opportunity to prevent a rape, you will most definitely have an opportunity to challenge attitudes and behaviors that are a part of rape culture. When you hear jokes, don’t laugh – explain why its not funny. Silence = Complacency
-Marina (guest blogger)
Images provided by Barbieturix