Sara, our summer intern, continues to share her experiences from the Peer Counseling Training.
I have to admit that prior to this week, I had never heard the term “Rape Culture” however I realized that I have known what it is and have been living amongst it obliviously for some time now. I fancy myself a person who is in-tune with society and our culture, but I must say this week was a wakeup call, especially as the parent to a female teenager.
Rape culture is a culture in which rape and sexual assault is normalized and females are sexualized and where victim blaming occurs. My initial reaction to this was that our society is not like this, but then as the training moved on I realized I was quite wrong. Think about images from pop culture, movies, music videos and even print ads in high end fashion magazines; girls as young as 4 and 5 prancing around on stages dolled up to look like little women; a woman in scantily clad bikinis with only their body showing with the words “wash me” written on her stomach in order to promote a body wash; a tie ad featuring a woman appearing to be strangled by a man and his tie; lyrics singing of shooting women or “smacking hoes” that are then repeated by our female and male youth… The list can go on and on. This is rape culture.
Rape culture can be organized into a pyramid, of how it starts and the most common type of actions on up to the worst possible actions. It starts with gender stereotyping, objectification, languages and even jokes around these topics then moves to verbal abuse and victimization leading to murder and sexual violence at the top of the pyramid. Normalizing objectification and stereotypes about gender likely leads us to language and jokes about gender stereotypes and objectification. This then leads us to the verbal abuse and victimization of people around the same gender stereotypes and objectification that has already been normalized. We are raising children in a society where this is happening, which affects not only female children but males as well.
Boys are raised to be dominant; even in the movies several sensual love scenes show female leads not accepting of a males sexual advances and as the man becomes more pushy and more physical with the female she turns and these actions appear to have turned her on to where she becomes a willing participant. These are then the images that we allow our youth to watch which helps to then shape their own views and stereotypes around sex and gender roles. Over time, and in many cases this culture can then lead to the more severe parts of a rape culture of sexual violence and even murder. Again I say it, this is rape culture; we are living in and contributing to a rape culture.
Change can start with one person and in one home; then if many people start to make these changes, this is how we change society and our culture. No one wants to contribute to a society that normalizes rape and sexual assault, but by condoning these images or lyrics we are allowing ourselves and our youth to be impacted by them. The change can start with each of us, and spread; and WEAVE‘s mission is to bring an end not only to domestic violence, but also to sexual assault in partnership with their community. Together we can be the change I realize.