University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
In the United States, rape has become one of the most underreported crimes each year (“Reporting Rape” 1). The term rape culture refers to how our society has taught women how not to be raped instead of teaching men not to rape. Through jokes and the sexualization of women we are more likely to believe rape is not a big crisis in our nation. Rape culture leads to the acceptance of rape as a natural occurrence through images that objectify women, media, and the stigmatization of rape victims. In our culture we are made to believe that victims should be blamed for their own abuse according to their state of mind or what they were wearing at the time. Rape culture has become such a major part of own lives that we don’t know its even happening.
In todays society, women have become such a “sex” object from the media, movies, and advertisement, or even jokes. Through images that dehumanize women, they turn them into objects, leading to the increase of violence towards women. In a Stop Violence Against Women event students face the issue face on and said: When the media objectifies women, it also creates an analogous definition of masculinity. She added that the media imposes these societal roles, causing people to ignore complex human personalities and identities (Turmam 1). The over-sexualization of women in today’s media gives women the wrong hopes. At one-angle women see sex as a necessity to be in todays “norms” but not to put themselves out enough to be sexually assaulted.
The word “slut” has oppressed women by telling them to dress a certain way, where to go or not go, who to talk to and who not to talk to. “Slut” shaming is an act of shaming a person based on how much they flaunt their sexuality. Taking the word too lightly can have awful consequences on how rape will be justified. Women who show too much skin or dress provocative are labeled as “sluts” and are tormented as well as looked at with less respect. Women should be able to wear whatever choice of clothing they want, go out where they want and not be in constant fear of rape. We are living in a culture where survivors are afraid to speak up (Kacmarek 2). Most women are afraid that by speaking up they are putting themselves out to be judged. People around us judge a person who has been raped not on the circumstances but by the type of clothing they were wearing, saying that they have “lost their self-respect” which means they might have brought it upon themselves. Research has found that an increase in sexist jokes can have a negative outcome for rape victims (Viki 1). By creating a society that looks down on those who show their sexuality, it creates fear when women are sexually assaulted.
This also makes men believe that it is “okay” to come onto women. Nobody but the rapist should be blamed for the abuse that happened. No one ever asks to get raped, in any situation. Jessica Valenti confronts the issue of “no means no”: Until American culture and law frames sexual consent, as proactively, enthusiastically given, there will be no justice for rape victims. Its time for the U.S to lose the “no means no” model for understanding sexual assault and focus “only yes’ means yes” instead (Broderick 3) America has looked at consent is such a loose way. Many forget that “ no” does not mean “convince me.” A survey reveals that many people between the ages of 14-25 do not actually learn about consent in mandatory sex-education classes (Broderick 2). A consent sex does not mean there wasn’t a no, but rather that the yes was not forced upon by convincing or hostile situation where they feel like they were pressured to say yes. Also that being when people are under the influence or even unconscious, just because they didn’t say no does not mean that it gives the right for a person to have sex with him. Two people consenting is a necessity when it comes to sex.
Many people are not aware of how frightening the statistics involving sexual assault is. The crime of rape is at an alarmingly high rate due to the fact that “slut”-shaming and victim shaming, many are afraid to speak up about rape. Every year there is 237,868 people sexually assaulted (“Statistics” 1) Only 40% of rapes actually reported to the police (“Reporting Rates” 1) That means that 60% are too afraid to report a sexual assault and many rapist getting away for what they have done and possibly doing it again. Out of the 40% of rapes that are actually reported 3% of rapist will ever spend a day in prison (“Reporting Rates” 1). There is no justice for women in the United States who are being raped. Angie Epifano states how rape is somehow have to more “legitimate” compared to other crimes: If you were mugged in New York City people would be horrified. No one is going to sit there and say ‘Are you sure you were mugged?’ With sexual assault there is always this question of ‘Are you sure?’ ‘What were you wearing?’(Kacmarek 2) Men rape on a daily basis because they know they can get away with it. Our culture has become so involved in bashing others on how to dress or how to act we have forgotten that it is not the victims fault, but that people rape because they are rapists. Another thing that most people forget is that rapes do not happen by random strangers. Most rapes happen by the people we know, friends or family. We are afraid that to face the fact that the rape is not only committed by evil psychopaths but instead by those who we look up to or those who we’ve got to know the best (Broderick 1). About ⅔ of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows (“Statistics” 1).
Some of best examples how rape culture has taken such huge effect in the United States is in the media. Rapists are made to look like victims in today’s society. A culture where it’s believed that “boys will be boys,” where men cannot control themselves if they see women in revealing clothing. In the media, rape culture has affected the way rape cases are looked at. The bias opinions on the way news coverage looks at the rapes have been having a negative effect on the viewers. A prime example of this is seen in the rape case in Steubenville, Ohio. The trial was against two young men, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, both in high school. These two boys raped a unconscious girl who was highly intoxicated. They referred to this young 16 year old as the “dead girl,” but in trial denied knowing that they were raping her because it “wasn’t violent”(Plank 1). A person who is unconscious is unable to consent any type of penetration. Just because there isn’t a no, does not mean that means that is what the girl wants. Silence is not consent. Rape is usually not violent or forced.
The two boys continued to urinate on her, live-text, and disseminated naked pictures of the victim (Plank 1). During this many watched as the girl was being raped, most laughed and took pictures as this was happening. This rape trial is being dismissed because she was not saying “no” during this. Rape apology in the media was clearly shown when CNN, covered and responded the rape trial. Finally a trial where the rapists were sent to jail the way the reporter dismissed the rape and instead victimized the rapist.
Poppy Harlow went on to discuss on how deeply sorry she was for this rapist: I’ve never experienced anything like it Candy. It was incredibly difficult even for an outsider like me to watch as these two young men that had much promising future, star football players, very good students literally watch as they believed their lives fell apart (Plank 1). Here she makes the rapist seem like a victim when he was the one that made the decision to rape and hurt another human being. Even one of the nicest guys can rape. No one but the rapist should be blamed for violence they inflicted on the others. No matter what the girl was wearing or how her state of mind was, no one but the rapist should be blamed. “As long as we publicly sympathize with rapist, we are glorifying them. Rapist deserve no apology, rape victims do” (Plank 2)
Therefore, there is conclusive evidence that rape culture is prevalent in the United States. Our culture has desensitized and minimized traumatic experiences for its victims. Women are being dehumanized because of they are objectified and over-sexualized. Victim blaming has become such a norm in our society we forget that no one but a rapist should be blamed for what they have done. Statics show how there is not justice for women, when men are not being put away for their crime. Culturally men and women are taking bias sides because of sexist ways that the victim is somehow responsible for being raped.