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We Need To Be Educated On Rape Culture And Consent

Rape culture has become increasingly wide spread, and it is absolutely terrifying. It exists everywhere, and you may not even realise it.

05/05/2017 03:55 SAST | Updated 05/05/2017 03:55 SAST
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What is rape culture?

Some people believe that rape culture is just a myth; that it's just a phrase coined to make men look bad. Some people even believe that rape doesn't really happen as often as people claim. It is also possible that some people have never heard the phrase, and are living in blissful ignorance. After all, it is not something that is really talked about in social situations, and it definitely isn't brought up at the work place or at school. For conservative people, it's almost a taboo topic.

We need to educate those people.

Rape culture, defined, is the normalisation and trivialisation of rape and sexual assault by a society. It is being taught to not get raped instead of being taught to not rape. Rape culture has become increasingly wide spread, and it is absolutely terrifying. It exists everywhere, and you may not even realise it. It is easy to overlook signs of rape culture in society... So, here is a brief description of rape culture. Perhaps, this will help people understand what rape culture really is.

  • Rape culture is being told that you shouldn't drink, go out alone or wear revealing clothes.
  • Rape culture is being told that if you didn't take precautions against it, it is your fault.
  • Rape culture is trivialising sexual assault. ("Boys will be boys!")
  • Rape culture is when victims are called liars and attention seekers.
  • Rape culture is protecting a rapist because of their social status.
  • Rape culture is calling victims of a famous person, or sports personality, career destroyers.
  • Rape culture is laughing off reports of rape as an exaggerated statistic.
  • Rape culture is being objectified by strangers on the street who get upset when you don't accept their advances.
  • Rape culture is asking a victim what he/she was wearing or whether he/she was drunk when attacked.
  • Rape culture is taking an active sexual life as an invitation to be raped.
  • Rape culture is the common acceptance that if it was a prostitute, it wasn't rape.
  • Rape culture is encouraging sexual aggression in the music and film industry.
  • Rape culture is judges and society blaming the victims.
  • Rape culture is lenient sentences for rapists.
  • Rape culture is condemning victims, instead of attackers.
  • Rape culture is thinking that the victims wanted it to happen.

This is just a few ways in which rape culture shows itself, but it is enough to make anyone understand: Rape Culture is real and we need to stop supporting it.

What is victim blaming?

Victim blaming is a particularly detrimental characteristic of rape culture as it makes it harder for the victim to report the attack or abuse. It has allowed sexual predators to garner a sense of power, because they know that, as a result of society adopting this terrible culture, it is very difficult for the victim to come forward and tell others of the attack. Blaming the victim also leads the victim to actually believing that it is his/her fault and it allows a perpetrator to avoid accountability for his/her actions.

What is consent?

A very important aspect of rape culture is society's lack of understanding with regard to consent. First, what is consent? Consent, in this context, is freely, clearly, actively and unambiguously expressing willingness to engage in a sexual activity. Anything less than that does not qualify as consent. Society has effectively blurred the lines on consent, making it very difficult for a no to be taken seriously. Understand this:

Consent may not be assumed on the basis of a prior romantic or sexual relationship, and neither can consent be assumed based on an active sexual life.

  • Intoxication is not consent.
  • Fear is not consent.
  • Revealing clothes or nudity is not consent.
  • Coercion is not consent.
  • Hesitation is not consent.
  • Lack of resistance is not consent.
  • Lack of consciousness is not consent.
  • Silence is not consent.

In fact, the only thing that qualifies as consent is a clear, willing, YES. And NO does not mean YES on some deeper level. It means NO.

Understanding that shouldn't be difficult, but somehow it is. The adoption of rape culture clouds the concept of consent, allowing it to become a sort of puzzle piece - just place it wherever it can fit. Assuming consent in situations that clearly qualify as sexual assault or abuse is a dangerous thing. Consent needs to be understood by every human being. Wouldn't that make things much easier? Society justifies sexual assault by trying to rationalise it, and we need to remove the power to do so by educating people on the true meaning of consent.

Rape is a horrifying, tremendously damaging act of violence, and a society that trivialises and rationalises it is one that encourages it. Rape culture is one of the downfalls of society, and we need to work towards eradicating it.