What is rape culture?

We all aspire to live in a prosperous and inclusive society. Unfortunately, the normalization of sexual assault perpetuates rape culture and makes the dream of a prosperous and inclusive society unachievable.

Women have been speaking out on social media about rape culture hoping for a change. We are tired of living in a state of constant vigilance because the threat of rape is always around us. Yet, requesting safe public spaces free of harassment has made men feel that it’s a scary time for them to live in.

If you are afraid to even talk to women because you fear that you will be accused of sexual harassment or rape, it probably means that you have no gauge for appropriate behaviour and you should indeed stay away until you learn how to talk with respect.

The pandemic of violence and abuse of women and girls is fuelled by everyday sexism and objectification. It can be seen every time there is a news post on social media about sexual harassment or rape and the comments below are filled with comments like:

  • “nothing more than youthful indiscretion” and
  • “this is just how men are” and
  • “this could ruin his life” and
  • “Men can’t help themselves” and
  • “boys will be boys” and
  • “boys grow out of it” and
  • “He only wanted outercourse” and
  • “it was just a little harmless fun” and
  • “he suffered enough”

I don’t think that we should be hinting that “boys grow out of it”. Instead we should make sexual harassment and rape inexcusable and make boys worry that committing this crime will ruin the rest of their lives. The problem with excusing boy’s crime due to his age is that girls age does not save us from the trauma of assault. The truth is sexual assault is not a normal part of adolescent behaviour. It is never normal behaviour to violate another person’s body at any age under any circumstance.

None of these comments take in account the victim, how this crime ruined her life, that she didn’t deserve this and that she has a right for justice and protection.

You did this and you deserve to be punished forever.

Rape culture is judges letting rapist go free because “the general public may as well be ready for the offender to reintegrate.” – Judge Michael Corey

Rape culture is when a student complains to the principle that boys are groping her and they do nothing. She decides to wear a shirt with a message on it that asks people not to touch her and she is the one facing expulsion.

Girls and women are watching, reading, and hearing these conversations. Think about what those messages are doing to girls and women. We are telling them that their safety isn’t important.

Think about the message it’s giving boys and men. We tell boys and men that entitlement to women’s bodies is inherent and normal. We are telling them that it’s okay to harass and rape women. These boys and teens become men incapable of accountability, because systems of patriarchy never demand it. If boys are raised properly they will not become abusers and rapist. If they are taught to respect everyone, we wouldn’t have to go through this.

Is that really the message you want to give? We can’t be both opposed to this kind of treatment of girls and women while being okay with the images and messages that propagandize this treatment. 

“We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does liberate, it oppresses.” – Carl Jung

“When women go through this, it’s a horrifying experience because your entire self-confidence just drains out of you.” – Gretchen Carlson

When will girls and women no longer be threatened with being raped by a family member or in the street?

We don’t have to live like this. As a woman and has a mother of both girls and boys, I refuse to be a helpless bystander. Everyone can contribute to better experiences of gender, equity, sex, and power.

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