The term “rape culture” was coined by feminists in the 1970’s in the USA. It was designed to show the way in which society blames the victims of sexual assault and normalizes male sexual violence.
But what does it actually look like?
By posting on the That Mama’s Facebook page on Friday about the recent rise in violence against women, all you had to do was read the comments section. Men making statements and blaming other men and that the term “rape culture” was invented to make men look bad. Needless to say after calling the guy out, he deleted his comment and blocked me.
And, after reading all those comments and mails it would have been super easy for me just to carry on with my Sunday, to dismiss it as rubbish written by online trolls with penises.
But it got me thinking…
I think that some people really does not get what rape culture is. We all know what “culture” is from an anthropological or sociological point of view. But we find it difficult to put the word rape next to culture.
We all know that at its core, the South African society is not a society that promotes rape or violence against women.
To grasp “rape culture” better, we are discussing something more than people promoting rape and excuses for sexual violence. We are talking about how we THINK about rape. More often than not it is situations in which sexual assault, rape and violence are ignored, normalized and made into jokes. We all know that happens A LOT. All the time. Each and every day. And by doing that it is counterproductive to eliminating sexual violence from society.
What does rape culture look like? Here is some prime examples:
- The University of Pretoria’s male students holding up vulgar signs aimed at women.
- Pop music like the song of Robin Thicke that tells women “you know you want it” because of these “blurred lines” (of consent)
- Mothers who blame girls for posting “sexy” selfies and leading their poor precious boys into sin instead of talking to their sons about responsibility for their own sexual expression.
- Supporting athletes who are charged with rape and calling their victims “career destroyers”
- Companies using women in suggestive ways to promote their business.
- Idiotic people who believe that women and girls “allow themselves to be raped” (I want to hit you with a chair in your face for that)
- Media that use the word “sex” instead of “rape” as if it is the same thing.
- People who will tell you that rape “is something God allowed to happen” because you must “learn something from it” – Please, are you serious?
- Calling women who have the courage to report rape “liars” and “attention seekers”
- Street harassment- and telling women that they over reacting when it makes them uncomfortable.
- Rape jokes.
- Victims not being taken seriously.
- Teaching daughters and girls not to get raped. What happened to teaching son’s about consent?
- Reddit threads with titles like “you have to make sure she is dead” when linking to a story of a 13 year old girl being raped and buried alive in Pakistan (http://news.outlookindia.com/items.aspx?artid=815230)
- Twitter hashtags that support accused rapists.
- Publicly defending celebs accused of rape just because they are famous.
- Assuming that women cry rape in order to embarrass a man.
- Only 3% of rapists will go to jail.
- Women feel less safe than men walking the streets at night or just walking around.
And this list can go on and on. Not that you know what is meant by “rape culture” what are you going to do to prevent it?