A student employee attending Occidental College, ‘drove an alleged rape victim who was bleeding vaginally to a hospital’s sexual assault reporting center’ (Testa). While the employee was initially commended by her peers and superiors, several days later, ‘she was told by two deans that they saw her actions ‘as an attack’ on her department…’ (Testa). This represents an aspect of rape culture. It is a societal issue in which victims are blamed for the crimes committed against them, and the lives of those who dare to defend rape victims are threatened.
American society is guilty of considering rapists’ reputations to be of higher importance than the sexual safety, and overall equality, of people of all races, ages, genders, and sexual orientations. As stated by Zerlina Maxwell, ‘Simply put, feminists want equality for everyone and that begins with physical safety’ (Maxwell, ‘Rape Culture’). The importance of consent and the faulty logic that enables rape culture should be properly taught in schools in order to inform society and protect victims of rape, prevent the destruction of victims’ lives, and improve the condition of society.
The importance of consent and the faulty logic that enables rape culture should be properly taught in schools in order to inform society and protect victims of rape, prevent the destruction of victims’ lives, and improve the condition of society. Due to religious peculiarities and the allegedly taboo nature of sexual topics, students and children do not understand the influence rape culture has on their thoughts, ideas, and lifestyles. With rape culture in effect, society instructs victims on how they could have prevented the rape, rather than properly punishing the rapist.
Teaching women how to prevent themselves from being raped creates a false sense of security and implies that rape survivors could have done more to protect themselves. Zerlina Maxwell, a political analyst, speaker, and contributing writer of many online magazines specializing in social issues, states, ‘We need anti-rape campaigns that target young men and boys.
Campaigns that teach them from a young age how to respect women, and ultimately themselves, and to never be rapists’ (Maxwell, ‘Stop Telling Women’). Believing that a woman’s clothing, attitude, or drunkenness is the reason for her rape is believing that men who would consider rape are mindless, animalistic beings who are unable to control themselves in the presence of a woman.
Instructing women on how to avoid rape provides rapists with an excuse for their crime, especially if the victim did not abide by the vague guidelines imposed for avoiding rape. It is also important to consider that many women are sexually abused by their intimate partners, as is illustrated by The New York Times (Rabin). With a provided excuse, rapists have free rein to take advantage of other human beings. In a society where some women are told that being raped was just ‘bad sex,’ rape becomes a normalcy and the sexual aspect of the crime is emphasized, rather than the consequences faced by the victim due to someone else’s lack of self-control and lust for dominance.
The population focusses solely on the sexual aspect of rape, rather than evaluating the motivating elements of power and control. If society were to consider the equally astonishing number of men and children who are sexually assaulted, the motive of a rapist would become much clearer. Rapists seek to dehumanize and degrade their victims through fear and superiority. Melissa Hall and Joshua Hall include a substantial definition in their scholarly article on the counseling implications on the long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse stating, ”…sexual abuse occurs whenever one person dominates and exploits another by means of sexual activity or suggestion” (Hall). Unfortunately, the rapists’ temporary lust for exploitation and dominance often causes permanent disorders for the victim.
The consequences for rape survivors are life-long, while the consequences for rapists are limited. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), ‘Only three out of every 100 rapists will ever spend a single day in prison’ (’97 of Every 100′). By allowing rape culture to flourish in a society, rapists are allowed to continue violating the rights of other humans. When a woman is questioned about her clothing, or the amount of alcohol she consumed, or the time at which she was out, the fault is placed upon the victim. Simultaneously, the rapist rarely undergoes any form of punishment and presents a means by which other rapists can commit this crime. If one in every five women report being sexually assaulted, then a staggering number of rapists are living their lives freely with no consequences for their actions. RAINN also expresses, ‘Because rapists tend to be serial criminals, this leaves communities across the nation at risk of predators.
Often threatened to stay quiet, rape survivors do not seek appropriate treatment following their assault, and resort to internalizing their emotions. This causes many life-long issues following the traumatizing events experienced by these victims. As noted in Melissa and Joshua Hall’s scholarly article, ‘Some therapists believe that sexual abuse can cause enough trauma that the victim forgets or represses the experience… Others believe that recovered memories are false or that the client is led to create them’ (Hall). While situations have been verified where a supposed rape survivor has falsely reported an incident of sexual assault, usually under the influence of a close relative or hypnosis, this concept is often applied to completely valid childhood sexual abuse cases.
However, the physical and psychological illnesses derived from sexual abuse substantiate an incredible number of reported sexual assaults. Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA) cited Professor Bessel van Der Kolk in saying that the symptoms correlated with childhood sexual abuse include, ”…the inability to regulate emotions like rage and terror, along with intense suicidal feelings, somatic disorder, negative self-perception, poor relationships, chronic feelings of isolation, despair and hopelessness; and dissociation and amnesia” (‘Child Abuse Has’). These disorders and emotions cannot be forged; they alter the minds and lifestyles of everyone who suffers from them.
Unfortunately, psychological illnesses and disorders are not the sole impacts of sexual abuse. Many men and women face higher risks of physical ailments, including some that seem completely unrelated to the incident. According to an article from The New York Times, ‘Women who had experienced such violence were also more likely to report having asthma, diabetes or irritable bowel syndrome’ (Rabin). Aside from this, rape survivors also tend to develop poor physical habits, such as smoking, eating disorders, and self-harm. It is also stated that, ‘Both men and women who had been assaulted were more likely to report frequent headaches, chronic pain, difficulty sleeping, limitations on activity, and poor physical and mental health’ (Rabin). The list of symptoms seems endless, causing the victim to feel hopeless. This is evident because, ‘Many survivors’ lives are characterized by frequent crisis e.g. job disappointment, relocations, failed relationships, financial setbacks…The reasons are complex, but for many survivors ongoing internal chaos prevents the establishment of regularity, predictability and consistency’ (‘Child Abuse Has’).
Many are surprised to find that an extreme amount of men are victims of sexual assault. In the GQ Magazine article, ‘Military Sexual Assault: Male Survivors Speak Out,’ it is stated that, ‘…thirty-eight military men are sexually assaulted every single day’ (Penn). In his article, Nathaniel Penn depicts some of the horrors that these men have faced. One of the most graphic depictions includes, ‘They beat me down onto the floor and forced my legs open. Then they took the end of a broomstick and forced it into me again and again. Each time it felt like my insides were coming out. The blood was a blessing, because it seemed to lubricate the broomstick’ (Penn). In an environment where masculinity is equivalent to worth, some men seek to prove their masculinity by degrading their comrades to a ‘feminine role.’ Victims are reduced to the lowest form they can take, a woman, because, as is believed in a patriarchal culture, only women can be raped. James Asbrand, a psychologist of the Salt Lake City VA is quoted in saying, ”In a hypermasculine culture, what’s the worst thing you can do to another man? Force him into what the culture perceives as a feminine role… Completely dominate and rape him” (Penn). If this was not implied in society, these crimes would not happen as often and people would not question what a woman is wearing or drinking because no one is responsible for another’s crime.
People must begin to face reality. It is absolutely essential that students are taught about the dangers of rape culture, as well as made aware of the importance of consent. Rape culture effects people of all races, genders, ages, and sexual orientations, therefore all people are responsible for the role that it currently plays in society. Women should be able to walk to their cars without fearing the possibility of rape. Men and women should be able to give their lives for their country without the risk of being raped. Children should never be exposed to or be a victim of any sort of abuse; it alters their physical and psychological health, damaging them for life.
Rapists must be held accountable for their choices. The court system cannot be changed so easily; however, the views of a society can easily be altered by movies, music, and other forms of entertainment. Therefore, a society can be changed if certain subjects such as sexual safety are required to be taught in schools.
- RAINN; ’97 of Every 100 Rapists Receive No Punishment, RAINN Analysis Shows’ – https://rainn.org/news-room/97-of-every-100-rapists-receive-no-punishment
- ASCA; ‘Child Abuse Has Many Potential Impacts’ – http://www.asca.org.au/About/Resources/Impact-of-child-abuse.aspx
- The National Center for Victims of Crime; ‘Child Sexual Abuse Statistics’ – http://www.victimsofcrime.org/media/reporting-on-child-sexual-abuse/child-sexual-abuse-statistics
- J & M Hall; ‘The Long-Term Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse: Counseling Implications’
- Zerlina Maxwell; ‘Rape Culture Is Real’ – http://time.com/40110/rape-culture-is-real/
- Zerlina Maxwell; ‘Stop Telling Women How to Not Get Raped’ – http://www.ebony.com/news-views/stop-telling-women-how-to-not-get-raped#axzz3UlNnDZkz
- Nathaniel Penn; ‘Military Sexual Assault: Male Survivors Speak Out’ – http://www.gq.com/long-form/male-military-rape
- Roni Caryn Rabin; ‘Nearly 1 in 5 Women in U.S. Survey Say They Have Been Sexually Assaulted’ – http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/15/health/nearly-1-in-5-women-in-us-survey-report-sexual-assault.html?_r=1
- Steve Schmadeke; ‘Prosecutors: UIC Student Charged with Assault Said He Was Re-enacting ‘Fifty Shades of Grey” – http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-50-shades-of-grey-uic-sex-charge-20150223-story.html
- Jessica Testa; ‘Inside the Sexual Assault Civil War at Occidental College’ – http://www.buzzfeed.com/jtes/inside-the-sexual-assault-civil-war-at-occidental-college#.tegljk9dj