Rape is a word that is often thrown around and is the butt of all jokes. But is there a culture that promotes it in some deranged sense? Let’s try to understand the social climate that surrounds this topic and the mindset of people that have been desensitized to this word.
Definition of Rape Culture
Rape culture is a sociological environment in which rape is common and normalised as a result of cultural views toward gender and sexuality, as explored by numerous sociological theories.
Victim blaming, slut-shaming, sexual objectification, trivializing rape, denial of widespread rape, refusing to accept the suffering caused by sexual violence, or some combination of these are all typical behaviors connected with rape culture.
Rape culture encompasses not just rape itself, but also the exploitation and normalisation that comes with it (Crisis Center). Rape has almost always been blamed on the victim, undercharged, and mocked for years. This is something that a society as a whole does, not just a small number of people. The horrific pain of rape is twisted into a casual act in everyday life by society. Rape is depicted as a mockery of the victim, rather than the crime that it is.
It has been used to describe and explain conduct within social groupings, such as prison rape and war rape employed as psychological warfare in combat zones. Rape cultures have been said to exist in entire societies. Rape fantasies and rape pornography are related with it.
And, while rape culture has its roots in long-standing patriarchal power systems designed to favour men, today’s rape culture also burdens men, for example, by neglecting the fact that both men and women can be victims of rape and sexual assault. As a result, male victims are left without legal protection or social assistance as well.
Women are always told not to wander alone at night and to return home at a specific time (always significantly earlier than their male counterparts). Women are also so socialised that they go to the restroom in groups, choose what to dress based on what society deems “appropriate,” and are afraid to upset the status quo and report things that make them uncomfortable for fear of being judged. This is the culture of rape.
We are practically beyond redemption as a culture. We accomplish nothing because we are afraid of something bigger than ourselves. Having stated that, it’s sometimes more sensible to pursue short-term answers rather than long-term ones. Because the culture doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, it’s a good idea to embrace it.
Origins of Rape Culture
Second-wave feminists in the United States created the phrase “rape culture” in the 1970s and applied it to current American culture as a whole. During the 1970s, second-wave feminists began to engage in public awareness campaigns to raise public awareness about the occurrence of rape.
The genesis and first use of the term “rape culture” may be traced back to Margaret Lazarus and Renner Wunderlich’s 1975 documentary film Rape Culture, which was produced and directed by Margaret Lazarus and Renner Wunderlich for Cambridge Documentary Films.
She claimed that the film “claims credit for defining the notion first.” Rape of both men and women is discussed in the context of a greater cultural normalization of rape. The work of the DC Rape Crisis Center, in collaboration with Prisoners Against Rape, Inc., was featured in the film. It features interviews with rapists and victims, as well as famous anti-rape campaigners like Mary Daly, a feminist philosopher and theologian, and Emily Culpepper, an author and artist.
Link to Greek Mythology
Women being raped is a recurring theme in Greek mythology. Zeus, who is regarded the king, protector, and father of all gods and humans, is said to have raped several women, including Antiope, Europa, Hera, Leda, and others.
The Story of Medusa
Medusa was once a pretty young woman, famous for her beautiful hair and the object of many male suitors’ desires. Poseidon, the God of the Sea, took advantage of Medusa and raped her in the temple of Athena. Athena blames Medusa, the victim in this case, for the sexual encounter that transpired in her temple after she realises what has happened. Medusa is punished by Athena by turning her hair into venomous snakes and transforming her visage into something so terrible that anyone who looks at her turns to stone. In Greek civilization, these mythological stories encouraged the idea of rape and sexual exploitation of women.
When women who survived sexual abuse became pregnant, the result was a hero child, and when gods were the rapists, the result was a hero child.
To mention some Incidents of Rape from Greek Mythology:
- Persephone, who was raped by her uncle Hades and, according to Orphic legend, by her father Zeus, who was disguised as a snake or as Hades himself.
- Tereus, Philomela’s brother-in-law, raped her.
- Rhea was raped by Zeus, her son.
- Poseidon, in the appearance of her beloved, the river-God Enipeus, raped Tyro.
Examples of Rape Culture
- Blaming the victim for the crime
- Normalizing sexual assault (“Boys will be boys!”)
- Indulging in Sexually explicit jokes
- Catcalling is a normal occurance
- Tolerance of sexual harassment
- Commenting on the victim’s clothes or behavior as an instigator for rape
- Trivializing rape against men
- The sexual assault of a man by a woman is not taken seriously
- Prison rape jokes
- Teaching women to avoid getting raped instead of teaching men not to rape
How to fight Rape Culture?
- Use language that does not objectify or denigrate women.
- If you overhear someone making an insensitive remark or trivialising rape, speak out.
- Take a friend’s claim of being raped seriously and be supportive.
- Even in casual situations, be mindful of others’ physical space.
- Always talk with your sexual partners and don’t take their consent for granted.
- Bring awareness by starting debates and holding forums for more thoughtful discussions
In cases of sexual assault, the most evident forms of victim blaming arise.
Provocative, seductive, suggestive, taunting, or “asking for it” are sometimes blamed on adult female sexual assault victims. When a case of sexual harassment or rape was brought to court before 1992, the victim’s attire, lifestyle, and sexual background were likely more crucial factors than the incident itself.
In 1992, Canada passed rape shield laws, which provided victims with legal protection during rape proceedings. Rape shield laws prohibit the defense from questioning victims about their sexual histories, reducing the likelihood of the victim being discredited.
Why is Sexual Assault Normalized?
This tweet shows the state of our society.
What does society believe about Rape?
Sexual violence and abusers are nearly never prosecuted in the criminal justice system.
So frequently, society makes excuses for criminals – or finds a rationale why victims and survivors ‘asked’ for or deserved what happened to them.
Whether it’s family and friends, the police, jurors, or people reading about cases in the news, people often don’t believe victims and survivors.
There isn’t enough money to help victims and survivors with counselling, advocacy, emotional support, and financial and other practical assistance.
Victim blaming happens when a crime victim is held totally or partially responsible for the harm they have suffered. People are more likely to blame rape victims due to current bias against victims of domestic abuse and sex crimes. They are ready to pass judgement on the victim based on their acts and behavior.
Victim blaming not only prevents survivors from coming forward for fear of being accused, but it also intentionally diverts attention away from holding the perpetrator responsible.
People who have been victims of sexual violence frequently describe emotions of fear, stigma, and self-blame, and the prevalence of victim blaming can make it difficult for survivors to get the support and care they need.
Myths & Facts on Rape and Sexual Assault
MYTH: False rape allegations are common.
FACT: The number of false reports is estimated to be roughly 2%. This is on par with false reports for any other type of crime.
MYTH: Men are incapable of being raped.
FACT: Men can be sexually assaulted and are sexually assaulted.
MYTH: The majority of sexual attacks are carried out by strangers.
FACTS: Ninety percent of sexual assaults are carried out by someone who knows the victim.
MYTH: Sexual assault is caused by victims flirting, wearing sexy clothes, or becoming inebriated.
FACT: The idea that a victim can “provoke” a sexual assault is based on the assumption that perpetrators lack self-control.
MYTH: Once sexual contact consent is provided, it cannot be revoked.
FACT: Consent is not a legally enforceable agreement that provides a person with entire decision-making authority.
Slut-shaming is the practise of criticising people, particularly women and girls, who are believed to be violating sexuality-related behaviour and appearance requirements. The term is being used to reclaim the term “slut” and encourage women and girls to take control of their sexuality. It can also be applied to gay males who may face criticism for engaging in promiscuous sexual conduct. Heterosexual men are rarely subjected to slut-shaming.
Being chastised or penalized for breaking dress code standards by clothing in sexually provocative ways; demanding access to birth control; having premarital, extramarital, casual, or promiscuous sex; or indulging in prostitution are all examples of slut-shaming. It can also entail being blamed as a victim after being raped or sexually abused.
Effects of Rape Culture
Rape culture is described as stereotypical, inaccurate views about rape that condone sexual assault while trivializing its gravity. Rape culture has a negative influence on survivors, acting as a barrier to those who want to tell their story.
Many women said they were frightened of the implications so much that they couldn’t even confess the rape to their closest friends and family. Women were concerned that they would not be supported, that their authenticity would be questioned, and that they would be blamed for the incidents that occurred. Rape can erode women’s trust in others and make them feel alienated as a result.
Victims’ self-reflection is another effect of rape culture on young women. Women reported feeling disgusting after being raped, thinking of themselves as promiscuous, and believing they had “used or ruined things.”
Women felt humiliated by what had occurred and that they no longer matched the ideal “pure and virginal” stereotype that men seek. Victims experienced sadness and anxiety as a result of their perception that they were rotten and that no one would want to be with them after the rape.
The family of a rape victim is also subjected to social shame, and their education is called into question. Society wonders why the victim’s family granted him so much freedom and why the victim’s family is so unconcerned about his appearance, which attracts other men.
Even if women choose to tell others about their rape, they are still subjected to scrutiny unless it can be established that they are telling the truth. The rape was verified, according to the men in the college study, if the woman had brought the accusation to court and won. Men only began to take rape seriously after that. Men were also more likely than women to blame the rape on the victim, especially if the crime went unreported.
When others learned about the rape, women who decided not to tell or who only told close friends and family were frequently labelled as liars or exaggerators. Onlookers typically assumed that the rape was “not a big problem” or “must not have happened” because no legal action was taken. Rape was perceived to be less prevalent and effect fewer women without some form of affirmation from a person in authority, according to college students in the survey.
While there is a lot of study on the effects of sexual violence on victims, there isn’t much on the economic impact, particularly for economically vulnerable victims like Black and Latina women. Because they make up a major share of the group plagued by income poverty and asset poverty, the consequences of sexual assault disproportionately harm these specific categories.
Being from one of these low-income communities increases the likelihood of sexual assault and discourages victims from reporting rape crimes because there is less trust in the police and a greater crime rate in low-income neighborhoods.
Impact on men
Rape culture also reinforces the counterproductive assumption that men cannot be sexual violence victims. As a result of this fear of not being believed, survivors are less likely to report their assaults. This might cause the healing process to be slowed, and the culprit is not held accountable for their actions.
Sexual harassment and sexual assault affect people every day, the “Me Too” movement, which focuses on the stories of survivors of sexual violence, has gotten a lot of attention.
The movement’s proponents demonstrate how frequently sexual harassment is by revealing their own personal experiences. The objective is that through raising awareness of sexual harassment and the casualness with which it is sometimes dealt, tolerance for it would decrease and support for victims will increase.
What is the MeToo Movement?
#MeToo is a global movement against sexual assault and harassment that encourages people to come forward with complaints of sex crimes. Tarana Burke, a sexual assault survivor and activist, first introduced the phrase “Me Too” in this context on social media in 2006, on Myspace.
The goal of “Me Too,” as articulated by Burke and others who have since adopted the strategy, is to empower sexually assaulted people through empathy and solidarity, especially young and vulnerable women, by visibly demonstrating how many have experienced sexual assault and harassment, particularly in the workplace.
Following the publication of many sexual-abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein in October 2017, the movement became a hashtag on social media and quickly grew in popularity.
“If all the women who have been sexually harassed or attacked typed ‘Me too’ as a status, we may give people a sense of the scope of the problem,” American actress Alyssa Milano wrote on Twitter on October 15, 2017, citing a friend as her inspiration. American celebrities Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Lawrence, and Uma Thurman, among others, quickly responded with high-profile posts and reactions.
The widespread media coverage and discussion of sexual harassment, especially in Hollywood, resulted in high-profile job terminations, as well as criticism and outrage.
“ ‘Me too’ was just two words; it’s two magic words that galvanized the world.” – Tarana Burke
Founder, ‘me too.’ International
What is the root cause of rape culture?
Unequal distribution of power between men and women
Rape Culture Rooted in Patriarchy, Media Portrayal, and Victim Blaming
Patriarchy is one of the oldest social systems in place. From preventing women to vote to unequal pay, women have taken the brunt of patriarchy. These consequences have created an unequal power between men and women. The difficulties faced by women are trivialized and seen as common occurrences further pushing rape culture.
When sexual assault is normalized it pushes horrible sexual crimes like rape to appear very normal. Rape culture is essentially the mentality of society towards any kind of sexual assault and when people speak, act or behave according to this mentality, they are actually promoting rape culture.
Patriarchal views are not just enforced by the men of the society but it is also seen in women. This is known as internalized mysogyny.
Sexual assault has earned a certain stigma in society. It has been ingrained in the culture that women are inferior to males and should be treated as such. The media has normalized sexual violence, desensitizing society to actual assault and preventing action against it. Rather than their assailant, women are frequently held responsible and blamed for their assault.
Rape culture refers to the failure to protect sexual assault victims and the shifting of blame to women for their own assault; it is when a woman’s traumatic assault is trivialized. Sexual assault and the implications of rape culture are human rights breaches that fail to recognize women’s dignity and equality. Rape culture is a human rights issue that has its roots in patriarchal society.
What is internalized misogyny?
Internalized sexism/misogyny is when women impose prejudices that they learned from others onto themselves and other women even though this may not be beneficial for women as a whole.
Prejudice or discrimination based on one’s sex or gender is known as sexism. Sexism can harm everybody, but women and girls are the ones who are most affected. It’s been related to stereotypes and gender roles, and it could involve the assumption that one sex or gender is fundamentally superior to the other. Sexual harassment, rape, and other types of sexual violence may be encouraged by extreme sexism.
What is patriarchy?
A social or political system in which men hold the majority of power and women are generally excluded.
Patriarchy is an institutionalized social system in which men dominate over others, but it can also refer to dominance over women in particular; it can also refer to a variety of manifestations in which men have social privileges over others that lead to exploitation or oppression, such as male dominance of moral authority and property control.
The act of treating someone only as a sexual object is known as sexual objectification. Objectification, in a broader sense, refers to the treatment of a person as a commodity or an item, regardless of their personality or dignity. Objectification is most usually studied at the societal level, although it can also refer to individual conduct and is a form of dehumanisation.
Although both men and women can be sexually objectified, the term is most commonly linked with female objectification and is a central concept in many feminist and psychological ideas.
Sexual objectification alters people’s perceptions of women by turning them to sexual objects who are stripped of their humanity and internal mental lives and regarded devoid of moral concern.
However, the long-term effects of sexually objectifying people are still unknown. We investigated the influence of objectification in the context of sexual assault in the current study.
Policing Women’s Clothing around the World
Since 2014, when the Anti-Pornography Bill declared “dressing indecently in a manner to sexually arouse” illegal, short skirts have been prohibited in Uganda. Women who wore “anything above the knee” should be arrested, according to Simon Lokodo, the ethics and integrity minister, and there were stories of women being stripped by crowds of males claiming to be ‘helping’ the police the day after the act was approved.
Despite complaints, the country has continued to restrict fashion freedoms: in 2017, female civil officials were subjected to new guidelines that included a ban on flat shoes and “too much” make-up.
The burka has been outlawed in public settings in six European nations, the most recent of which being Denmark in 2018. Hundreds of people marched through Copenhagen’s streets to protest the introduction of legislation prohibiting the wearing of any facial covering, which human rights campaigners judged “neither necessary nor proportionate.
Does Rape Culture Exist?
Rape culture is defined as a society or environment in which prevalent societal beliefs, attitudes, and values normalise sexual assault, encourage people to equate sex with violence, and downplay the severity of sexual violence (Wright, 2015). Sexual assault is acceptable, excused, and society does not oppose it enough in rape culture (Field, 2004).
Although the incidence of sexual assaults is significant, the number of perpetrators convicted is low, and explanations are frequently provided to rationalize why people perpetrate sexual violence (Field, 2004).
People are advised “don’t get raped” more often than they are told “don’t rape.” Rape jokes are popular, and the word “rape” is casually thrown into conversations to indicate things other than sex without consent.
PORNOGRAPHY AND THE MEDIA
Rape culture is heavily influenced by the media (newspapers, television, movies, social media, etc.). It has the potential to desensitize individuals to the gravity of sexual abuse, sexualize and objectify female bodies, and sympathize with perpetrators rather than survivors.
Rape culture is also heavily influenced by pornography. Sex and violence are intertwined in porn, training people to be attracted to violent sex (Field, 2004). This gives the wrong message to the viewer, implying that this is how ‘natural sex’ seems. A lot of porn is labeled as ‘rape porn’ and ‘rape reality porn’ sending the message that rape is OK and that sexual violence is commonplace.
Support on a Systemic and Institutional Level
When we say that something is a “systemic” problem, we imply that it affects the entire system (in this case, our society), and when we say that something is “institutional,” we mean that it is supported by structures and mechanisms. Rape culture encompasses both.
When rape victims seek treatment, for example, they are frequently asked invasive and insulting questions in order to justify the circumstances of the attack.
“What were you wearing?” the cops would inquire. “Did you have anything to drink?” “Did you engage in any flirting?” “Did you say the word ‘no’ loudly enough?” “Did you put up a fight?” “Did you scream?”.
It can be upsetting.
Sexual assault is now much less commonly trivialized through what passes for humor than it once was. Rape jokes aren’t funny, they’re not harmless, and they’re not unrelated to the awful act they mock. Their growing marginalization marks a significant social shift.
However, the rape joke has one remaining shelter in mainstream popular culture, and its continuous existence reveals a horrible blind spot in our society. It’s a joke that hides a horrific and devastating reality that’s both a forbidden subject and a commonly understood truth.
Related article: Is porn culture connected to rape culture?
Rape cases have been boldly plastered over the front pages of many newspapers. From gang rapes to acts of incest, the media loves to report on rape, the focus is placed more on the gory details of such cases rather than on bringing the perpetrators to justice. Rape after rape the media shows more of the victim than the perpetrators.
Media outlets portrayed this as a random rape, stressing graphic details (such as the use of a blunt weapon to penetrate the woman, causing damage to her bowels and genitals) and even interviewing the witness.
Many such rape cases have been sensationalized especially in India.
And justice is considerably more elusive for the majority of rape victims and survivors, whose experiences do not make national or international headlines.
To be clear, there is a problem with sexual violence, but not for the reasons that the media portrays.
Here are the 10 countries with the highest rape rates:
- Botswana (92.93)
- Australia (91.92)
- Lesotho (82.68)
- South Africa (72.10)
- Bermuda (67.29)
- Sweden (63.54)
- Suriname (45.21)
- Costa Rica (36.70)
- Nicaragua (31.60)
- Grenada (30.63)
Finding accurate rape statistics is a difficult task.
Accurate rape statistics are notoriously difficult to come by. The most significant issue is that the majority of sexual violence victims choose not to report it. There are a variety of reasons for this decision, including shame, victim shaming, fear of rapist retaliation, and even concern about the victim’s own family’s reaction.
In addition, many countries’ anti-sexual-assault legislation are insufficient, inconsistent, or not consistently applied. This might lead to the victim believing that involving law enforcement will do no good and, in certain situations, will make matters worse rather than better.
“Most males are afraid of being ridiculed or humiliated by a romantic prospect, but most women are afraid of rape and death.”
The majority of crimes are committed in society, however there is one crime that is the most horrible crime committed in society, and that is RAPE. Worse worse, the victims are held responsible for the rape. Women are accused of being careless when it comes to their fashion sense. It is claimed that women are blamed for being raped, but perpetrators are not held accountable for their crimes.
The agony of rape victims does not end after the deed; rather, it continues for a longer period of time, such as haunting dreams and a gradual refusal to live. Victims of rape frequently commit suicide following the horrible act.