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Do We Live in a Rape Culture?

Do We Live in a Rape Culture?

Numerous individuals object to the expression “rape culture.”  They don’t comprehend how a culture as civilized as ours can be defined by a power as damaging as rape. They consider it an overstatement, an “over-analysis” by irritated feminists. Some even think it is an oxymoron. And others quite simply don’t understand the term. Within feminism, rape culture is a theory that associates rape and sexual violence to the culture of a society, and in which prevalent attitudes and practices normalize, justify, tolerate, and even condone rape. With the way the world is today it makes you sit back and wonder – do we live in a rape culture?

Society functions formally and informally based on beliefs, attitudes, rituals and customs that members decide are satisfactory and standard. Rape is set in our culture through our shared beliefs and this has reduced sexual violence to being considered acceptable and normal.  Rather than seeing the culture of rape as a problem that needs altering, individuals in a rape culture consider its persistence as “just the way things are.” We’ve recognized rape as part of our culture and assigned gender roles only assist in exasperating this.

Professor Lynn Phillips gives her response on how we normalize rape:  “Everywhere you turn there’s condoning, trivializing, and eroticizing rape, and collectively it sets a tone that says this is no big deal, or this is what women deserve.”  A common misunderstanding is that we have to agree with rape in order to be a part of a rape culture and this is not true.  We do not need to give permission to be a part of a rape culture; we already are living in one. Rape culture is not essentially about you cooperating or agreeing to an actual rape.  It’s about contributing in a culture that says “rape is no big deal” via several communicative mediums such as jokes, media, law, advertising, TV, movies, etc., and not calling it out and fighting it.

Rape prevention must concentrate on removing the conditions in society that make women easy objectives for it. Victim control or rapist control by themselves are not having an effect. Victim control shows women that they are rape-able and that it’s their duty to avoid rape.  However, this is not only sexist; it also doesn’t decrease the danger of rape. Additionally, rape cannot always be avoided, no matter what safety measures the woman takes.  Men are educated to be powerful and masculine and women are taught to be targets–who need saving.

Rape can be seen as a means of power over women.  A tactic for removing women’s vulnerability to rape includes shifting the power relationship between women and men. This would involve removing the flawed gender concepts that aid this inequality. Some women are unwilling to defy men’s aggressive behavior because of their social conditioning (i.e. it’s not proper to “make a scene”).  And commonly, women psychologically detach themselves from the topic of rape and from each other by embracing the attitude that “It can’t happen to me.” If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-777-9588.


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