Rape Culture: An Inexcusable Injustice

The Marshall University Woman’s Center defines “rape culture” as “an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture. Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence, thereby creating a society that disregards women’s rights and safety.” Even without a name, rape culture has always been around. Society has consistently demonstrated a double standard where men have far more freedom to do as they wish in relationships while women are afraid of being pronounced promiscuous. However, in recent years, this phenomenon has been named due to the fact that it is becoming more, not less, of a problem.

Rape culture is much more than just a double standard. The Marshall University Women’s Center provides a list of things that fall under rape culture, to include the following: blaming the victim by saying she asked for it; trivializing sexual assault by stating boys will be boys; sexually explicit jokes; tolerance of sexual harassment; publicly scrutinizing a victim’s dress, mental state, motives and history; defining “manhood” as dominant and sexually aggressive; defining “womanhood” as submissive and sexually passive; encouraging men to “score”; telling women not to appear “cold”; assuming only promiscuous women are the ones to get raped; refusing to take rape accusations seriously; and encouraging women to avoid getting raped instead of teaching men not to rape.

Public schools have started to become offenders when it comes to rape culture. In the past year, a number of middle schools and high schools throughout the country have banned yoga pants. Their reasoning? Yoga pants distract the male students too much. Their attitude is, “Boys will be boys, so we might as well change the girls.” One has to wonder what kind of message this sends. Apparently, this line of reasoning maintains that it’s a girl’s fault if a guy can’t keep it in his pants. This is the same mentality that says a woman asked for it because her clothes were too “provocative.” In truth, girls shouldn’t have to alter their wardrobe just because boys can’t focus in class. Males with control issues are the ones with the problem. They’re the ones who need to be monitored.

There is no excuse for a man to justify raping or objectifying a woman in any way; unfortunately, rape culture has created an entire breed of troubled young men who disagree. Recently in Santa Barbara, California, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger committed a mass shooting resulting in six deaths. Three of the victims were sorority girls. According to the Southern Poverty Law Canter (SPLC), Rodger had said in November that “he wanted to ‘overthrow this oppressive feminist system’ and create a ‘world where WOMEN FEAR YOU.’” The day of the attack, Rodger posted a video on YouTube giving his reasons for the violence to follow — he had been rejected by women. He says in the video, “If I can’t have you girls, I will destroy you.” Boys all over the country have been making excuses for Elliot Rodger, saying things like, “If the girls had just said yes to him, this never would have happened.” So that’s the answer? Just say yes, and you won’t get killed? Rape culture. Elliot Rodger isn’t alone in thinking that women owe him sex. All too many men treat women as if sex is all they’re good for largely because they’ve been taught to think this way.

Another probable reason for the intensification of rape culture has to do with the casual acceptance of porn. In recent years, society has become less afraid to speak of porn in more public terms. While this isn’t necessarily the intrinsic problem, a growing number of people are now glorifying porn as an end in itself and a catch-all remedy for their frustrations. As a result, sex isn’t as personal anymore. With smart phones, kid are sexting under the radar and creating their own porn. There are no secrets nowadays. Everything is out in the open. Girls are losing respect for themselves and their bodies because they think in order to be noticed, you have to send that cute guy in your history class a nude picture. Porn is reprogramming brains into thinking sex is the best way to get to know someone. Consequently, dating is becoming extinct because young people have invented “friends with benefits,” and they think this new “convenience” can replace a relationship and close bond with someone through sex alone.

Listening to misguided, mendacious, and ill-advised media figures minimize this issue won’t help rectify the problem. More Americans need to start taking rape culture seriously. A certain segment of the population needs to stop blaming everything on women while brushing off unjustified and dangerous male behavior with the simple “Boys will be boys” excuse. If we can break away from counterproductive sexual stereotypes, we can break away from rape culture.

1 Discussion on “Rape Culture: An Inexcusable Injustice”
  • Wow. This is perhaps the best article on rape culture I’ve read in a while. Misogyny, and specifically rape culture op-ed pieces, tend to either trivialize the issue or are so offensively absurd (to either extreme, chauvinism and feminism alike) that they border on the unreadable. \

    Unfortunately, many professional journalists and internet partisans seem to think this is a political issue, to be solved with debates, regulations, laws, rules, and force. In some ways it is–I believe rapists deserve far more extreme penalties for their crimes than they currently receive, for example–but in a way, the political problems we see are symptoms of social brokenness, something that cannot be easily tackled in aggregate.

    I would be interested in reading suggestions for how, as a nation, we could move toward a more egalitarian focus towards rape and gender issues in general (another good problem is the double-standard in rape cases in which men are the victims, especially in the military, or even prison). Hopefully, as more and more young people have access to information and education through the internet and as we, as a society, are forced to face these issues more directly, we will choose to change ourselves and, thereby, change our culture.