I believe I’m not making any incorrect assumptions when I say that many of the people that know me, both inside and outside of my high school, consider me to be a raging feminist.
I am who I am
It’s an image I don’t mind having. In fact, I actually enjoy having it not only because it’s true but also because people come to me to ask about my opinions on different controversial topics.
These questions always lead to interesting conversations and even heated arguments. A few weeks ago, a particular question from a person that is very close to me really made me re-think what I thought was obvious to most people my age.
What went down
I was asked what rape culture was. What bothered me was that this person proceeded to tell me how he didn’t like the term because he felt like he, and all men, were being called rapists.
I was somewhat shocked at this, especially since it came from a person I was certain understood the concept. Apparently, this issue has not been explained or confronted enough, and it won’t ever be, at least to me, until I can feel a difference whether it is worldwide or in my immediate community.
Why I am a feminist
One of the reasons I am a feminist is because sexism now is not as black and white as it was before.
It is gray, and it involves things people don’t want to talk about, such as rape. Hopefully we can all agree that rape is not okay.
We should never force someone to do anything they don’t want to or harass them sexually (physically or verbally). However, rape culture is so much more than any single act of sexual assault.
The word culture comes from a sociological or anthropological viewpoint; they are the things that people commonly engage in together as a society.
How does this link to rape? Isn’t it illegal? Yes, yes it is. That doesn’t mean, however, that rape culture doesn’t exist. It’s clear that our society doesn’t outwardly promote rape, and that we don’t engage in sexual violence together as a society.
So, rape culture just another name feminists made up to make it seem like men were the source of all problems on earth? (Please, I really do hope nobody actually thinks like this). It turns out that our society doesn’t need to outwardly promote sexual violence for rape culture to exist.
Rape culture in our society is something more subliminal, but this doesn’t mean you have to dig deep to find clear examples of it. Rape culture, then, refers to the way we (together as a society) excuse and tolerate sexual violence in different ways.
It is the way we collectively think about rape and respond to situations of sexual assault and violence by ignoring it, minimizing it, humoring it or just trivializing it.
Many of us choose to deny its existence, and, unfortunately, achieve this easily. It is a large societal trend.
Rape culture is why 15 out of 16 rapists never spend a day in jail. It is why the media concentrates on what a rape victim was wearing or “how drunk” she was when she was assaulted.
It is the belief that boys deserve to have sex with any girl of their choosing, whenever they want to, and that girls are made to please a boy’s desires.
It is the reason people believe men have the right to be mad at a woman if she doesn’t want to have sex with him, especially if she is dating him, because they consider it flattering to ask someone for sex.
It is the reason why a student can rape a classmate and be protected under the intellectually lazy and callous defense of “boys will be boys”.
It is the reason why women are advised not to wear “revealing” clothing, not to take drinks from strangers, and not to walk by themselves in dark and solitary areas. It is the belief that if women learn how to behave, then they won’t get raped.
Rape culture is the belief that when a woman is violated, she is to blame. It is the way society absurdly ignores the fact the fault actually lies on the men who rape, and the community that objectifies women and perpetuates this behavior.
Rape culture is the reason why we worship “strong” male characters like James Bond, who present women as trophies, ignoring the fact that women are not inanimate generators of self-respect, or objects made to please their sexual desires.
It is why our society considers a man that takes women in a form of social currency as a hero and role model. Rape culture is the reason why strangers interpret a women walking alone as permission to offer their opinion on their bodies, why they believe women dress up for them, and why they assume women are looking for feedback on their figure.
We need changes
In a rape culture people stop viewing the dehumanizing experience that is rape as a problem that needs to change and rather start thinking about it as inevitable, as “the way things are”. Usually, nothing happens to the perpetuator because people don’t see the “big deal” of a “simple” catcall or of an unwanted male gaze or touch.
If we, as a society, don’t start putting an end to rape culture, this problem will only get worse, because we are setting examples to future generations by the way we treat and represent women.
If women are being judged and sexualized on a daily basis because of their appearance, and if men that rape are not being rejected by our society and hardly ever receive a punishment, what is the message we are sending to future generations?
Ignoring or denying the existence of rape culture is highly dangerous; it’s the reason why it’s still here and why most of us aren’t doing anything to put an end to it. We need our society to become aware of the problem, to stop excusing rape and violence, to stop minimizing the effects rape has on a victim, to stop victim-blaming, to stop defining masculinity as inherently violent, to stop romanticizing sexual assault, and even to stop laughing at rape jokes. When society decides to put an end to rape culture, it will end.