Rape culture is the collection of social narratives and norms that a culture uses to trivialize and rationalize rape. In “western culture,” some key aspects are assuming male aggression and the sexual objectification of women is the norm. The assumptions that men always want sex and “silence is consent” are also part of rape culture. The assumption that men can’t be raped is a part of rape culture. The use of alcohol or a short skirt as an excuse to rape is part of rape culture. Assuming “acquaintance rape,” isn’t really rape is part of rape culture. Doubting rape survivors because it’s easier to think of rapists as evil monsters is part of rape culture. Toxic masculinity is part of rape culture.
“Telling every woman to get a gun is not rape prevention,” she explains. “The reality is that we need to be changing how we train and teach young men. We need to teach them to see women as human beings and respect their bodily autonomy. We need to teach them about consent and to hold themselves accountable.” And when we do, things change. After Canada launched a “Don’t be that guy” consent awareness campaign in 2011, the sexual assault rate dropped for the first time in years — by 10 percent.
Rape culture exists because we don’t believe it does. From tacit acceptance of misogyny in everything from casual conversations with our peers to the media we consume, we accept the degradation of women and posit uncontrollable hyper-sexuality of men as the norm. But rape is endemic to our culture because there’s no widely accepted cultural definition of what it actually is. Recent headline-grabbing instances of sexual assault, from Steubenville, Ohio, to Delhi, India, are prodding Americans to become self-aware about the role we play in propagating a culture that not only allows but justifies sexual violence against women. Activists suggest the following to end our collective tolerance for violence against women and create an environment that empowers both men and women to change the status quo (go to full article to read the entire list of 10 suggestions to end rape culture).
1. Name the real problems: Violent masculinity and victim-blaming. These are the cornerstones of rape culture and they go hand in hand. When an instance of sexual assault makes the news and the first questions the media asks are about the victim’s sobriety, or clothes, or sexuality, we should all be prepared to pivot to ask, instead, what messages the perpetrators received over their lifetime about rape and about “being a man.” Here’s a tip: the right question is not, “What was she doing/wearing/saying when she was raped?” The right question is, “What made him think this is acceptable?” Sexual violence is a pervasive problem that cannot be solved by analyzing an individual situation. Learn 50 key facts about domestic violence. Here’s one: the likelihood that a woman will die a violent death increases 270% once a gun is present in the home Remember, a violent act is not a tragic event done by an individual or a group of crazies. Violence functions in society as” a means of asserting and securing power.”