There’s an old saying we’ve all heard, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But words do hurt when they are used to perpetuate the degradation of feminine innocence, the decimation of a woman’s rights, and the freedom of accountability for one’s actions of abuse towards women. Simply by uttering the word “slut” you’ve condemned the girl and exonerated the boy. Every time you even think (or worse, speak) the phrase, “Did you see her? She was asking for it.” You are actively participating in rape culture.
Rape culture is defined as a concept which links rape and sexual violence to the culture of a society, and in which prevalent attitudes and practices normalize, excuse, tolerate, or even condone rape.
Examples of behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification, and trivializing rape. Rape culture has been used to model behavior within social groups, including prison systems where prison rape is common and conflict areas where war rape is used as psychological warfare. Entire countries have also been alleged to be rape cultures.
The idea that rational human beings could posses a belief that there is anything a girl could ever wear, say, drink, or do that would give anyone (let me say again, anyone) the right to forcibly, brutally and sometimes fatally take their sexual gratification from her body (be it conscious and resistant, or unconscious and non-consensual) at their leisure is horrifyingly real.
When you actively participate in rape culture you’re not just condemning a girl you think “had it coming”, you are telling every girl that she is not worth her voice and her rights are expendable. You are telling women that any time a guy wants to force himself on her that it will always be her fault. You are also teaching boys the same thing. Instead of teaching them to correct it, you reinforce the idea, so they adopt it as truth and enforce it as their right. And society condemns the girl.
If this wasn’t enough of an insult, we’re told as a society that there are different forms of rape. There is “misunderstanding rape”, defined as rape that may have started out as mutual flirtation but became unwanted by the girl at some point. Having already aroused the boy he took that to mean they wouldn’t have sex again after this forced instance, so it’s not rape. “Date rape”, which you will hear is not a real thing because of course a guy should get sex on a date (especially if he has paid for everything). “Preventable rape”; if only she hadn’t been wearing that short skirt, or not had that last glass of wine she wouldn’t have been in a situation where she could have been raped so it’s not the guys fault. Lastly, there is “legitimate rape” which just means the woman wasn’t attractive or doing anything that could have been misunderstood as an agreement to brutality, so therefore must be a rare case of a ‘real’ rape. While the reasons a girl/woman gets raped may vary widely, the fact that they are all rape and all violent should make them inexcusable and completely the fault of the person that did the perpetrated this violent act.
Hayley Meyers, actress (from Ides of March, with George Clooney) and atheist activist says, “instead of teaching girls how to not get raped, we need to teach boys to not rape. It’s degrading to men in general, honestly. This current mentality illustrates them as dogs. You don’t leave a steak on the table, because you know that the dog will bite it. Same principle.”
This break down of rape culture helps you understand why when you try to find a tangible statistic on rape in the United States, or anywhere in the world, you can’t. The numbers of reported rapes that actually make it to the investigation phase are far fewer than the actual numbers. In 2010, the United States Justice System estimated about 300,000 women are raped every year, and the Center for Disease Control puts the number up closer to 1.3 million. This places the U.S. near the top of the list of countries with the highest amount of rape. Rape culture has significantly affected these numbers as more and more girls and women are coming to believe that they are to blame for men that can’t control themselves.
What is even more baffling is how many people think rape is always about sex, or just about sex.
It’s about power.
Having the power to take what you want, when you want it, no matter the ramifications. Which isn’t a brilliant way to indoctrinate our youth. Our society is trying to tell us that not all rape is rape. We must say NO! You will not tell my daughter her only worth lays between her legs, that it can be stolen from her at any time someone wants to and that it will probably be her fault. You will not tell my son that he is entitled to disregard another human being’s rights because he cannot control himself. And you will not force me to swallow another drop of injustice because we no longer need to tear women down.
It is absolutely evil to vilify all men. We’ve seen good men. We’ve seen fathers that didn’t have sex with their daughters and still love them with every fiber of their being. We’ve seen husbands that love and support their wives, would fight anyone that tried to impede on their partner’s rights and would never force themselves on anyone. We have seen that most men are good, and how when we work together with mutual respect our nation can accomplish anything. We don’t seek to vilify men. We implore each and every person to educate all children and each other about respect and boundaries, while demanding it for yourself without stealing it from someone else.
There is one last thing I would like to leave you with and I will consider ‘my piece’ having been said.
I would just like to pose a thought to every straight man that thinks a woman has it coming, or has ever thought a woman had it coming, if they would call it rape if some big sadistic motherfucker waited for them to pass out, rip their clothes off, and proceed to have the most brutal, non-consensual, and degrading sex with their body, and even keep souvenirs…
That fear and disgust you feel in the pit of your stomach? Now imagine you’re a 5-year-old girl.
Disclaimer: We want to add that everything that has been said here about women holds just as true for men. We are not suggesting that men cannot be raped; in fact it’s quite the opposite. This piece was written using women as the subject only for ease of reading and continuity. We want the light-hearted feeling removed about all rape. It’s brutal, invasive and violent to boys and girls, men and women of all ages. Education is the most important tool in rape prevention, and it starts with reminding everyone that “NO MEANS NO.”