What is Rape Culture?

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Rape is the act of assaulting a person through sexual advances against a person will and consent. Sexual assault is an epidemic in the United states as one in five women are victimized over the course of their lives. According to Southern Connecticut State University, Rape culture is an environment in which sexual violence is normalized and excused specifically in the media and popular culture. Rape culture is spreads through sexism and the objectification of the women's body which allows a society to disregard women's rights and safety. Our societal expectations about gender, sexuality, and power promote this type of rape culture, and to bring any change, we need to begin to challenge them. Gender Inequality in America fuels the idea of sexism by normalizing it which in turn increases rape culture.

Normalization of sexism is seen through various stereotypes amongst genders. Stereotypes placed on women based off gender include being inheritably communal and supportive while men are stereotyped as leaders and the more independent. These types of stereotypes also correlate to acceptable qualities such as aggression and dominance on men and submissive and passive on women. These qualities on men promote violence amongst the two genders. Men are socialized to view women as lesser and have a sense of entitlement over their bodies which is rape culture. Women have always been viewed as second-class citizens and in most cases violence against women is always excused. When women challenge the authority of men, this allows for violence to be intended to 'put women in their place'. Men and women both are at fault when it comes to gender-based violence. In most cases, both men and women question rape victims based on what she wears or where she was at a time. These factors have nothing to do with rape but under societal stereotypes a 'good women' would not go out to do not drink or wear short skirts excusing the actual act of rape.

Gender inequality allows for sexual double standards by allowing men greater sexual freedom and rights of self-determination than women. Rape culture allows men to blur the line of consent and non-consent. Crossing these lines including coercing women and describing it as persistence with an expectation for some type of return. Other normalized objectification of women includes catcalling, groping, rape jokes, sex tapes, or justifying sexual assault because of stereotypes. Rape culture is the acceptance of men being men as harmless and being raped and not killed as something to be thankful about. Rape culture affects all sexualities including the LGBTQ community. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the LGBTQ community experience sexual violence at similar or higher rates than heterosexuals. They also face higher rates of poverty, stigma, and marginalization, which put them at greater risk for sexual assault. Most violence against them are hate motivated which can often take form of sexual assault. Due to our society and stereotypes that we place on LGBTQ community, most of the violence stems from internalized homophobia and shame. It is much harder for LGBTQ survivors of sexual assault to seek help form different sources because of the stereotypes they face due to their sexuality and identity.

According to a NCAVP survey, 85 percent of sexual assault victims of the LGBTQ community have been denied services because of their sexual orientation or gender identity at least once in their lives. They also are also more vulnerable to sexual assault when incarcerated in jail, prison, or juvenile detention. Within the LGBTQ community, transgender people and bisexual women face the most alarming rates of sexual violence. Among both populations, sexual violence begins early, often during childhood. The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that 47% of transgender people are sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime. Among the Transgender community, people of color face 50 percent of risk of being sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Although rape culture is focused with the act of rape, it has more to do about power than sex. Power is very significant in rape culture because seek dominance amongst their victims to feel inferior through assault and abuse. Many high-ranking men have used their own power and positions to seduce, manipulate, and assault women. Usually high-ranking men understand that their power or position is desired especially amongst who are in less powerful positions.

Women specifically have always needed to do more to receive similar or more recognition, so they fall more vulnerable to these types of assault. For example, A month before the presidential election in 2016, a video tape of Donald Trump was released, and it included him bragging boldly about kissing women without their consent and grabbing at their genitals. At the time, Donald Trump was the running as the Republican candidate. In a subsequent debate, CNN's Anderson Cooper called the actions that Trump described sexual assault. Trump called it locker room talk. In January 2017, Trump took up the position as the most powerful man in the Western world. This isn't the first time, a president has used their power and position to get what they want, another example is Bill Clinton and his scandal with then intern Monika Lewinsky.

Although Bill Clinton admitted to a consensual relationship with his intern after lying under oath, Monika had admitted that she felt powerless and under tremendous pressure to be silenced after the matter and this abuse of power led her to deny the affair initially. Rape Culture is allowing a heinous act between an individual with high ranking authority that took advantage of his subordinate and continue to lead the nation without the consideration of resignation.

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What is Rape Culture?. (2019, Dec 31). Retrieved February 22, 2024 , from
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