Are we living in a rape culture?

In a few classes I have taken while in school, the topics of “slut shaming” and “rape culture” have come up quite a bit.

What the hell is rape culture? By definition, “Rape culture is a concept which links rape and sexual violence to the culture of a society, and in which prevalent attitudes and practices normalize, excuse, tolerate, and even condone rape.”

When you hear that, you may think America does not fall under that category. But, it seems as though that may be wrong. Recently I have noticed that when the media reports on rape cases, people end up blaming the victim. You read a lot of, “those poor boys,” “they have to live with this forever” when it comes to the rapists but when it comes to the victim you hear things like, “she shouldn’t have been dressed like that” or “she shouldn’t have drank so much.”

In the last few years there have been several national rape cases, usually involving several boys who are on a prominent sports team (Steubenville rape case, for example), and one girl who was probably drinking that night. People often hear the word drunk and assume the girl did something that she regretted in the morning and then cried rape. Which, unfortunately, has happened. Being drunk does not excuse bad decisions and it also does not mean that you can’t have consensual sex while under the influence.

Because there have been cases were girls have tried to say they were raped in order to cover up something they were embarrassed about (it happened at my college), people aren’t taking actual cases seriously. It’s like the boy who cried wolf.

It is 2014 in The United States of America. Women and men should be able to dress as they please without “inviting” people to attack them. That’s something you have probably heard a lot of. “Well she was dressed scandalously, she was asking for it.” When you go to the beach and wear a bikini that may reveal more than your underwear would, that is not an invitation to be assaulted. Neither is a short dress or low cut shirt. Neither is being inebriated.

I think what scares me more than the fact that the public has such horrible things to say to rape victims, is that so many boys and men apparently don’t see the problem with forcing someone to have sex with them. In a class I’m taking, the professor brought up a rape case where several boys forced a young girl to have sex with them and were calling up their other friends to come join. (Forgive me, I can not for the life of me remember the name of the case.) The friends they called agreed. I realize that there are certain people out there who want to do these horrible things, but how do that many boys not see the problem in rape? How has a huge portion of a generation been taught that rape is OK?

As a country we have progressed in to not making sex such a dirty word, thank god. But have we made it such a casual thing that people don’t realize you can’t force someone to preform sexual acts?

Where do we go from here?


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