The Societal Appropriation of Rape Culture

Rape culture in today’s society fails to be a recently unveiled occurrence. Rape culture, which is the normalization of rape and sexual assault/violence due to societal perceptions of gender and sexuality, has been a prevalent issue for far too long.

Some examples of rape culture would be common phrases such as ‘she was asking for it’, or ‘she should not have been wearing that’, or ‘she was drunk’, or even ‘she should have known better than to put herself in that position’.

I am personally becoming immensely aggravated and sickened by these unacceptable responses in regards to occurrences of sexual violence in today’s society.

Throughout a young girls’ life, she is taught how to avoid sexual violence. She is told to refrain from walking home alone. She is told to stick to busy areas of the city when she is out in the evening. She is told to dress in a manner that does not catch the attention of a male.

She is not, however, informed of the reasoning for such teachings.

She questions why she cannot walk home along. She questions why she cannot take a shortcut home when it is late. She questions why she cannot dress herself freely and without socially deemed restrictions.

She questions why throughout her life she is instructed on how to avoid rape, as opposed to perpetrators being instructed on how NOT to rape.

How not to invade the privacy of a woman’s body.

How not to disregard the freedom of women in society to express themselves in whichever manner they please.

How not to excuse their actions.

How not to place the blame of their actions on an innocent woman.

Consider the recent case of The Stanford Swimmer. Brock Allen Turner, a former Stanford swimmer, was discovered raping an unconscious female behind a dumpster on campus in January of last year. Prosecutors in the case argued that Turner should be given a sentence of six years, but Aaron Persky, the judge for the case, stated that Turner’s age (20) and no criminal history granted him a much lesser sentence. As opposed to receiving a six year sentence, Turner was given a six month sentence in a county jail alongside probation.

I read an article addressing the case on http://www.nymag.com, and an example of rape culture is evident within the very article itself in the following excerpt:

“Meanwhile, the 23-year-old victim in the rape case, who had had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit at the time of the rape and who had no memory of the attack, gave important testimony at the trial.”

As opposed to acknowledging the audacity of this case and the sentence Turner received, the author of this article chose to focus on victim blaming. The author chose to describe the blood-alcohol level as well as the clouded memory of the victim instead of focusing on the barbaric behaviour of Turner. By mentioning the blood-alcohol level of the victim at the time of the attack, the author permits readers to determine that the occurrence of the rape was the victims fault, and not Turner’s.

This ludicrous behaviour needs to end.

Rape culture and victim blaming are two incredibly dangerous forces in today’s media, and more awareness of the detriments they cause to women is required in order to abolish this unjust behaviour.

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