(Trigger warning: This post is about rape and sexual violence)
No, seriously. Let’s talk about this. We live in a rape culture. That is an undeniable fact; people who try to deny it usually don’t understand what rape culture is. Part of my studies at university have been gender studies courses and psychology courses, and also I do a lot of research on my own because gender studies is something I am passionate about.
Rape culture is a term used to describe a culture in which rape and sexual violence are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, and media normalize, excuse, tolerate, and even condone sexual violence.
That sounds a little textbook-y, so let’s break it down a little bit more.
What are the components of a rape culture? Like I said above, rape is often condoned, or at least normalized. In our culture, statistically, one in every four women will experience sexual violence in her lifetime. In my town, it’s closer to one out of every two. Let’s think about that for a second. There is a 50% chance that I will be raped in my lifetime.
So what else makes our culture a rape culture, besides that terrifying factoid? Well, if “my rape” happens, there is an 80% chance that I know the rapist. There is about a 2% chance that he or she will receive even one single day in prison.
I want to point that out again. There is only a TWO PERCENT CHANCE that if I am raped, my rapist will go to prison for even one day. That means that 98% of rapists walk free. Scarier still, most rapists go on to rape again. This information alone points to a rape culture. Our legal system is flawed, and it is flawed in such a way that rapists walk free while rape victims take the blame.
I want you to go into your brain-box and think about all the times you’ve heard someone say any of the following things or anything similar:
“She was asking for it.”
“She shouldn’t have worn that if…”
“She shouldn’t have been alone.”
“She shouldn’t have been drinking.”
“Well, she’s a slut, she must have wanted it.”
“She should have been more careful.”
“It wasn’t really rape.”
“Some girls rape easy.”
“She was drunk/passed out, so she couldn’t say no.”
Victim-blaming is rampant, and it is a critical component to defining a rape culture.
In our society, it is far more likely that a woman will be blamed for her own rape rather than her rapist. Our society also has a conflated idea of false rape reports. Well, let me spit some hot fire of truth at you, my sweet angel faces.
Only 2% of sexual assault reports have been found to be false.
So, 98% of reported rapes ACTUALLY DO OCCUR…and yet 98% of rapists walk free.
Let me also add that the 2% of false reports falls in line with all other false crime reports- and yet you never hear someone question the legitimacy of a mugging or a theft! Furthermore, recanted stories count as “false” reports. (A recanted story is what happens when a victim chooses to drop charges after deciding the risk for their own mental/emotional health or safety is not worth continuing to press charges).
I want to make something excruciatingly clear here: IT IS NEVER THE VICTIM’S FAULT.
I don’t care what I’m wearing, who I’m with, how much I’m drinking, what I’ve consented to in past relationships, it is never okay for someone to violate my body against my will. I could be passed out naked and it would still not be okay. I could have had sex with you a billion times and if I say no one time, that means no. My body exists for me, not for someone else’s sexual pleasure or need for power and control.
A rapist’s choice to rape is a decision they made, and it has nothing to do with the victim. Blaming a victim would be like blaming me if I drove my car down the highway and a drunk driver came across the median and slammed into me. The drunk driver’s shitty decision had nothing to do with me. Just because I’m in my car and driving does not mean it’s an open invitation for a car accident; and just because I’m walking down the street and you can see that I’m a woman does not mean there is an open invitation for you to violate my body.
We live in a rape culture, but we don’t have to. It’s time to end this.
I’m going to stop for now, but consider this Part One.