Disclaimer: This article will discuss topics such as domestic abuse and sexual assault. If you are easily upset or triggered by any of these topics, please do not read on. Thank you.
Rape culture is when rape is normalized and it is concerned with things like victim blaming, sexual objectification of women, and all those sexist and gender stereotypes that further help in trivializing rape and sexual assault. It is a wide concept and we often unknowingly or knowingly propagate rape culture. Rape culture is a huge step back towards gender equality and it’s important to spot those acts that represent rape culture which can be put into 4 categories- victimization, degradation, removal of autonomy and violence.
Photo: Arisa Chattasa on Unsplash
This is the bottom of the pyramid, and it deals with things like rape jokes, and especially a denial that rape culture actually exists. Then follows the famous line “Boys will be boys” and victim blaming “she asked for it-”. We also have sexist attitudes like “only bad women get raped’ and the list is endless.
If we go up further in the pyramid, degradation comes in the form of cat-calls, revenge-porn, threats, stalking, inappropriate photos - Sexual objectification of women, accusing victims of lying, diminishing the trauma of sexual violence.
3. Removal of autonomy
If no actions are taken in the initial phases, it can go overboard and things like groping, unwanted touch, dosing, statutory rape, battery just to name a few can happen.
At the top of the pyramid, we have violence in the form of rape itself, incest, murder, honor killings as well as insufficient laws on rape that amplify the rape culture.
One famous case of rape culture, is the Brock Turner case, who had to be convicted for 14 years of imprisonment for raping and assaulting an unconscious student but the judge sentenced him for just 6 months, of which he served three. The case caught media attention worldwide and Brock was shown smiling in a suit and tie and headlines described him as a promising Stanford athlete. His dad, trivialized his son’s brutal sexual assault by saying that it was ‘20 mins of actions” in a court letter, while the judge said that a harsh sentence would destroy his career. Fingers were also pointed towards the girl on the fact she consumed alcohol, was wearing a short dress at a college party so “it was bound to happen”
Rape culture was also seen in the famous series 13 Reasons Why, where it was shown how toxic masculinity can feed into rape culture, minimizing sexual violence, excuses perpetrators and blames the victims.
How to Step up?
Thinkers: This culture is in fact rampant in our society and affects everyone and the first step is to give this a thought- about its effects/origin and acknowledge the fact that rape culture exists.
Doers: Opening the discussion on rape culture is essential and this culture can be put to rest by breaking this pyramid – avoid sexist language, rape jokes, and victim blaming. The moment that we start justifying rape and normalizing it, rape cases will continue to soar.
Givers: There are so many victims that need acceptance and love. Step up for them, stop rejecting them and empower them to be survivors rather than victims. Give them love, and a voice.
Yeshna Dindoyal is a 19-year-old Youth Representative, UNICEF Voices of Youth blogger and a UNICEF climate digital Mapper. She is an advocate for gender inequality, climate change, mental health and bullying education to and works to empower youth. She wants to make the world a better place, and leave a mark. She is currently a law student and one fun fact about her is that she is a big Harry Potter fan. She is a work in progress.