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Rape Culture

Rape Culture

While awareness surrounding sexual harassment and assault has improved, rape culture is still a huge issue that perpetuates the toxic notion that rape and sexual assault are normal aspects of life and society. In simple terms, rape culture is the societal normalization of sexualized violence. Some aspects of rape culture might include victim blaming, sexual marks, and rape jokes. In rape culture, we assume sexual violence is inevitable because of how frequently it occurs. Hence, it is incredibly important that we change this expression of values and our mindset.

What is Victim Blaming?

Victim blaming is pretty straightforward: it’s when people and the media place blame on a victim of sexual violence. Although it can be as explicit as saying “It was their fault they got raped,” victim blaming comes in many different forms. It is important to be aware of what victim blaming is and why, as a society, we are taught to blame the victim.

The “Just World Hypothesis”

One hypothesis for why victim blaming occurs is called the “Just World Hypothesis”. This hypothesis argues that victim blaming occurs because people are inclined to believe that everyone deserves what happens to them. In other words, it assumes that victims play a role in their assault - which is never true.

Rape Culture the Media

Sadly, TV shows, films, and even music often see themselves as exempt from addressing rape and sexual assault when they write it into their scripts. Not only do they not address it, but usually the character that committed sexual violence gets off the hook and at times, turns into the protagonist. It is important to be able to identify that what is modeled in the media is perpetuating rape culture. Here are some examples that you might have missed:

What does rape culture look like in real life?

Rape jokes are never funny

Especially amongst young people, rape jokes are frequently made. There are probably a million reasons why they are problematic, but some key reasons include:

Remember that when you find rape jokes funny you are essentially finding the idea of taking away someone’s consent and autonomy over their body as funny. It’s not funny. Stop laughing and call your friends out when they make jokes like these.

Know the facts

Rape culture tends to spread a lot of misinformation surrounding rape and sexual assault. Here are some hard facts and statistics to help you identify what’s true and what’s not:

Changing the Dialogue

One of the most important things we can do to combat rape culture is to change the way that we talk about rape and sexual assault.

Phrasing matters

In this Ted Talk, Jackson Katz explains that the way we phrase sentences surrounding rape can actually perpetuate rape culture further. He states, “I want to share with you this exercise that illustrates on the sentence-structure level how the way that we think, literally the way that we use language, conspires to keep our attention off of [perpetrators/rapists].” To watch the video, click the link here.

Watch tv shows/movies that grapple with rape culture correctly

As mentioned before, the media often participates in the perpetuation of rape culture. However, there are some good examples of tv shows and movies that have handled well. Read thisarticlefor some good examples.

Identify rape culture in your everyday life

Similar to rape jokes, there are many things that we say (sometimes subconsciously) that actually partake in rape culture. Read this articlefor examples of everyday language to avoid or call people out on if they use it.

Ways to dismantle rape culture