Rape Culture is Too Rampant and We All Need to Speak Up
Rape is back in the news in a big way. For victims and advocates, rape never goes away, but for the mainstream media, it often takes a back seat until something big happens—something like serious allegations of misconduct against Florida State University and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston.
Just a week before The New York Times piece (click here) looking into the situation, I went off on a dear friend with a feminist rant about rape. I am deeply feminist, but pretty level-headed about it most of the time. This friend, however, made a joke while in another country about not knowing the country’s rape laws and therefore being able to get away with it because of his ignorance. I accused him of promoting rape culture.
Rape culture is the subtle but insidious cultural sentiment surrounding the normalization of rape: it can consist of attitudes and practices that excuse, tolerate, and condone rape—like jokes, victim-blaming, objectification, and trivialization.
Back to the rant: This man is sensitive, thoughtful, and even feminist—he’s an incredible champion of strong women. In some ways it’s absurd for me to accuse him of promoting rape culture, but therein lies the rub: rape culture is so damn prevalent—and cavalier—that men, supportive, feminist men, and smart women don’t even see the harm in their jokes. Rape is not just a women’s issue either: if estimated statistics are anywhere close to true, prison rape—of mostly men—is commonplace.
As a strong woman who isn’t afraid to speak her mind, it’s my responsibility to correct this perception when I see it. My voice is the voice of ten or a hundred women who are too scared to speak up directly or indirectly about rape.
Yet, I FELT absurd. I felt like I was overreacting, like I was ranting, like I was making a scene over nothing. (To be fair, I could have been more reasonable, rational, and, uh, quiet, while making my very solid points.)
And that’s the problem with rape culture.
Rape culture is so subtly ingrained in the American consciousness that to defy it seems like the act of wrongdoing. But it’s NOT. RAPE is the act of wrongdoing. How, at any point, is speaking out against it wrong?
I’d encourage everyone, female and male alike, to speak out against rape culture the next time it subtly pops up in conversation.