We live in a rape culture. What took place three years ago in Steubenville, Ohio is a prime example of what rape culture actually is.
A teenage girl was at a house party in which she was drunk to the point of unconsciousness. Two football players took advantage of her vulnerable state and non-consensually performed sexual acts on her. Not only did they rape her, but they dragged her naked body from party to party and urinated on her.
While all of this was going on, other football players and friends took the liberty of uploading pictures and videos to social media depicting the unspeakable acts that were occurring.
The case became headline news only because the town cried for the justice of the football players who were encouraged to delete evidence and anything else that could be incriminating towards them. The girl was also viciously attacked online and blamed for the rape because of her drunken state.
There were many witnesses to what happened that night, but instead of stepping in to save the girl or call the police they took videos and laughed about it. The Steubenville case is only one of the many rape cases out there proving that we live in a society where rape is acceptable and justifiable.
According to a study done by the University of North Dakota, one in three men would rape if they knew they could get away with it. 73 men were surveyed, and 31.7% of these men did not associate forcible sex with rape. They made disconcerting comments saying that forcing a woman to have sex with them was completely different than rape.
What does that say about society? Are we raising a generation of ignorance where men are actually led to believe that rape is acceptable, as long as he doesn’t consider it ‘rape’?
In general, we don’t hold men accountable for their actions. Instead during rape cases we say, “She must have been provoking him” or “What was she wearing?” as if to say “Was she asking for it?” “Did she deserve to be raped because of her outfit?”
What we should be asking is “What made him think this was acceptable?” Countless rape cases have been acquitted due to the thought that it was the victim’s fault.
Just a few months ago at Stanford University, Brock Turner raped an unconscious woman outside of a fraternity house behind a dumpster. He was sentenced to a short sixth months in jail, and released after only three months. Like the Steubenville boys, Brock was protected because of his social status and athletic potential. Ninety seven percent of rapists will never spend a night in jail (Marshall University).
Rape is never the victim’s fault, no matter what their actions were beforehand. We need to put blame where it is due instead of making excuses for the perpetrators. Through billboards, magazines, music videos and the thousands of advertisements that we are bombarded with every day, women are depicted as sexual objects. When we see this, we are led to believe that women are not only inferior to men, but only exist to provide sexual gratification for them.
When we believe that women only exist for the pleasure of men, they are seen as objects, not as human beings. As she is objectified, she is dehumanized, which is another leading cause of rape because you have feelings for the “object” rather than a human being. As a society, we are constantly dehumanizing everything about women except the idealized body.
There are many things that we need to do to combat rape culture. Instead of teaching women how to defend themselves from rape, we need to teach men not to rape. We need to teach them that rape is never okay or acceptable and that they will be held accountable for their actions.
Hypermasculinity, is a societal problem that requires more attention. From a young age, men are programmed to be aggressive and dominant. Young boys learn that they need to be big, strong and powerful to be considered ‘manly’. They are taught that physical conquest is the most important thing and they need to dominate and overpower things.
With this thought in mind, men like to overpower women with rape, which is one of it’s leading causes. Research shows that most rapes are exercises of power or anger. We need to teach men that it’s okay not to be hyper-masculine and aggressive and that they don’t have to live up to the “manly” stereotypes.
Not to be gender-biased, but 93% of rapists are male (Everyday Feminism), but men get raped too. We need to take men more seriously when they come out with their stories, because as of right now, we think that they can handle it because they are a “man”. This is completely false, and rape is just as serious of a problem for men as it is for women.
“Rape culture only exists because we don’t believe it does” (Women’s Center) Instead of taking steps to solve this issue, we make excuses and deny one of the most prevalent issues in our society. If we really want to address pertinent social issues, we have to take steps to lessen the stranglehold that rape culture has on us. We are the reason that rape culture still exists, therefore we can all do something to positively change it.