Before graduating college, one in three girls will be sexually assaulted. Now guys, if you think this doesn’t apply to you, think about your girlfriend, your sister, your mom—one of them may very well have been a victim of this offense without your knowing. After all, this isn’t exactly dinner conversation material.
And for those of you who are skeptical about the term “sexual assault,” how about these statistics: there re more than 200,000 cases of rape each year. That means every 2 minutes someone (and this does include men and children) is raped.
Nevertheless, 59 percent of rapes are never reported due to fear, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice.
Stuck in a protective bubble in a small Orange County town, I wanted to know why these rapes are occurring. Contrary to popular belief, rape doesn’t just happen to a short-skirted young girl walking through a dimly lit parking lot inhabited by a sex addict. In fact, most studies have concluded that rape has nothing to do with sexual desire. It results from the desire to dominate. 44 percent of rapes include victims from ages 0-18. That means kids. Another dismal fact, pregnant women are twice as likely to get raped than non-pregnant women. If that’s not messed up, someone please reassess my morals.
When it comes down to it, if it’s not crazy men looking to satisfy a stiffy, then what is it? What is causing the problem?
The answer is simply “us.” Rape culture is an environment where rape is preserved through the encouragement and glamorization of violence toward women, the ignoring of misogynistic language and actions toward women, and objectifying women. In a country where 5.3 million cases of domestic violence occur each year, and 1,300 of them result in death, it would be harder to argue rape culture doesn’t exist in the U.S.
The practice of objectifying women starts surprisingly early in life. “Even in a time where we think we’ve become more egalitarian in gender, we really, especially for kids, try really hard to police very traditional gender boundaries,” said Karon Sternheimer, Ph.D., Department of Sociology at USC. The word “boundaries” here is key, because what it eventually leads to is separation, scape-goating, and objectifying. Soon double standards are made, “A woman who was in power would be described as aggressive whereas if a man was doing the same thing he would be more assertive or competitive…the exact same behaviors are interpreted differently,” said Bettina Casad, Ph.D., Department of Psychology at California Polyphonic University, Pomona.
After years of tradition and continual brainwashing, the objectifying occurs. Racism often happens on the same grounds. In the 1940’s during World War II for example, the Japanese were depicted as cold-hearted, calling wives “indispensible” in the anti-Japanese propaganda film “My Japan.” “We think you are stupid, an admirable quality for an enemy to have,” says a fake Japanese diplomat in the film.
Cartoons in Looney Tunes’s “Tokio Jokio” are seen with oversized teeth and thick glasses and phony accents, in an outright racist attempt to objectify the enemy. Objectification is not a new concept, and sexism has not escaped it.
Modern culture does nothing to stop it, in fact, it encourages it. In a recent advertisement for Dolce and Gabbana, a two-page spread depicting the romanticized image of a woman being gang-raped. In Grand Theft Auto, game options include raping a woman in a car and then murdering her afterward. Eminem, the world-famous rapper, hypocritically refuses to say the “n” word, but repeatedly says the “b” and “h” word, even writing about beating his own wife in the song “Kim.”
“The very appeal of Eminem’s music depends on widespread acceptance of violence against women as a cultural norm,” said Jackson Katz an internationally recognized figure for working for gender violence prevention with men and boys.
Tom Leykis said on his radio show, “Dating equals porking.
We go on a date to get laid. If you have been brainwashed believing that a date is anything less than full intercourse—the purpose of dating is to get laid.” Leykis was later accused of domestic violence by his fourth wife.
So now that it is understood the encouragement of sexual promiscuity is for men while women are to be objectified, we wonder, what are we doing with all of this information? Again, the answer is simple: we use it.
“Women are taught to fear attacks by strangers but, in fact, are much more likely to be attacked by people they know,” according to a study posted in The Boston Globe.
The truth is, American culture has not been kind to women.
In fact, it is mostly focused on sexualizing them to the point where violence and degradation seem natural. That is rape culture. What can we do to stop it? We can stop advocating Eminem and Dr. Dre and other misogynistic and homophobic artists. We can stop buying Grand Theft Auto.
If someone says something rude or offensive to anyone, say something! Equality and respect should be given to anyone regardless of gender, class and race, and anyone who believes that should act on that belief.