“So many years past being raped, I tell myself what happened is ‘in the past.’ This is only partly true. In too many ways, the past is still with me. The past is written on my body. I carry it every single day. The past sometimes feels like it might kill me. It is a very heavy burden.”Roxane Gay
The number of assault crimes reported annually across the world grossly underestimates the shocking prevalence of rape. A 2013 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics stated that only 34.8% of sexual assaults are reported to the police. Why are so many victims afraid of reporting their perpetrators?
The answer to this question is our modern rape culture. As defined by Marshall University, “Rape Culture is an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture. Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence, thereby creating a society that disregards women’s rights and safety.” Two common factors that lead to our modern rape culture are sexual objectification and misogyny.
Sexual objectification is when women are treated as objects that are solely used for sexual satisfaction. Women are not perceived by men as humans with emotions and opinions which leads men to feel as though rape is acceptable and normal.
Rape culture language is one factor that leads to sexual objectification. Men often say things like “score” when they “get” a woman. Men also perceive women creating boundaries as playing “hard to get” which disrespects their lack of consent and also further objectifies them.
Another example of sexual objectification is the criticism of women’s bodies. Women are taught to think their appearance and their worth are directly correlated. However, the way a woman looks is completely different from what a woman deserves. Women should not be viewed as just what they look like since they are so much more than that.
Another factor that leads to rape culture is misogyny. Misogyny is “the dislike or hatred of women and girls” (Huffington Post). This belief leads misogynistic men to hurt women solely for their hatred for women. These men purposely want to harm women for their own pleasure since they feel strong hatred towards them. Both sexual objectification and misogyny create our current rape culture. However, rape culture is further perpetuated through different means. Two prevalent manifestations of rape culture are shown through media and victim blaming.
Perpetuation of Current Rape Culture
Media further enforces rape culture through platforms like film, music, social media, etc. An example of a song that fuels rape culture is Summer Nights from Grease. In the song one of the guy’s friends asks him “Did she put up a fight?” This quote shows how the men in the song are expecting the women to resist, however, they view them resisting as natural and inevitable and feel that they can continue using the woman for their own pleasure. The guy then continues to say “She was good, you know what I mean.” This shows how he is using the girl for his own sexual desires. It displays rape culture by objectifying women solely for the purpose of male sexual satisfaction.
Another example of rape culture is victim blaming. Many women are afraid to report their perpetrators because the victim is often put to blame. Victims are often asked questions like whether or not they drank too much or if they were wearing anything provocative. These questions further enforce rape culture by providing reasons for why it might excusable. It also makes it much more difficult for victims to report the crime since they do not want to be recognized as the one who is at fault.
Mental and Physical Trauma of Sexual Assault Victims
There are many psychological and physiological side effects that are faced by sexual assault victims:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Self harm
- Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)
- Substance Abuse
- Eating Disorders
- Sleep Disorders
Conclusion: How to Solve the Issue/ Call to Action
Rape culture is a huge issue around the world. There are many factors that lead to the creation of this issue. However, there are many more that further enforce and perpetuate the issue. The eradication of this problem would ensure equal treatment and safety for women worldwide. As a society, everyone of us has the responsibility to prevent these immoral crimes. For example, the media could be more responsible with the content they create. As consumers of the media, we need to call out the media through email campaigns or social media posts if there is trivialization of a sexual crime or if a woman’s body is objectified. In addition, society as a whole needs to work on breaking societal gender stereotypes. Men need to be educated regarding the mental and physical trauma women go through when they have been sexually assaulted. The creation of an environment for women to come forward to seek help when they are in an abusive relationship or if their home environment is unsafe would also be very helpful. A significant number of resources are required to rehabilitate the victims of sexual crimes. We need to continue this conversation to bring awareness and prevent this rape culture for future generations.
In addition to these ideas, another way to help is by helping fund my nonprofit CARE. My sister and I started this organization this past summer to help victims of domestic and sexual abuse. Your help would be greatly appreciated by us and the many victims at our local shelters. In the future we are also planning on helping shelters in India so your funds could even end up helping victims in other countries.
Here is a link to our website: (We are no where near done and this is more of a rough draft. I just thought it would be nice to see our website as of now.)
Thanks to everyone who read my Catalyst Conference Project! One thing I want to ask all of you to do is comment on my Padlet. The link is down below. Everyone’s ideas are greatly valued and will get an important conversation started!
This is the last thing I want to ask all of y’all to do! If you have time please try to fill out this questionnaire on the statistics of sexual assault. It would be interesting to see how common everyone thinks sexual assault is!
“Rape Culture – Women’s Center – Marshall University.” Marshall.Edu, 2000, www.marshall.edu/wcenter/sexual-assault/rape-culture/.
Ridgway, Shannon. “25 Everyday Examples of Rape Culture.” Everyday Feminism, 2 Sept. 2016, everydayfeminism.com/2014/03/examples-of-rape-culture/.
Kat Blaque. “What Is: Rape Culture.” YouTube, 15 June 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=SupUmg566js.
“Rape Culture – Google Search.” Google.Com, 2019, www.google.com/search?q=rape+culture&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwij2s-cwdDhAhXSvZ4KHQq6BNwQ_AUIDygC&biw=1422&bih=801#imgrc=TnYd3xcgM_12dM:
“Rape Culture.” Geek Feminism Wiki, 2019, geekfeminism.wikia.org/wiki/Rape_culture.
“Rape Culture.” College of Saint Benedict & Saint John’s University, 2011, www.csbsju.edu/chp/health-promotion/sexual-violence/rape-culture.
Boscamp, Emi. “Mindbodygreen.” Mindbodygreen, 15 Mar. 2017, www.mindbodygreen.com/0-21715/12-ways-we-all-contribute-to-rape-culture-without-realizing-it.html.
“What Is Rape Culture? | WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre.” WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre, 19 Mar. 2019, www.wavaw.ca/what-is-rape-culture/.
https://www.facebook.com/thoughtcodotcom. “What ‘Rape Culture’ Really Means.” ThoughtCo, 2019, www.thoughtco.com/rape-culture-definition-and-examples-4109257.
“Ten Things to End Rape Culture.” Now.Org, 2019, now.org/read-this/ten-things-to-end-rape-culture/.