Rape Culture and Consent Education
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 can be a very taboo topic. We need to educate these people.
What is Rape Culture?
Rape culture, defined, is the normalization and trivialization of rape and sexual assault by a society. For example, it's 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. Because it exists everywhere, you may not even realize it's happening.
It is too 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 being raped, it's your fault.
- Rape culture is trivializing sexual assault. (i.e. "boys will be boys")
- Rape culture is calling victims liars and attention seekers.
- Rape culture is protecting a rapist on account of social status.
- Rape culture is calling victims of a famous attacker 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 assuming that because someone has an active sex life, they are asking to be raped.
- Rape culture is accepting rape if the victim was a prostitute.
- Rape culture is consuming and therefore supporting sexual aggression in the music and film industry.
- Rape culture is judging and blaming the victims.
- Rape culture is giving lenient sentences to rapists.
- Rape culture is condemning victims instead of attackers.
- Rape culture is questioning whether the victim wanted it to happen.
While these are just a few examples of how rape culture is displayed in society, it's surely enough to make someone understand the following; 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.
Another very important aspect of rape culture is society’s lack of understanding for the word consent.
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.
- Wearing revealing clothes or being nude 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 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 rationalize 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 many downfalls of society, and we need to work harder towards eradicating it.
Like this article? Thank Aishvarya.
Aishvarya Singh is an aspiring writer, law student and book nerd. All twenty years of her life have been spent in Durban, South Africa. To read more articles like this, check out her blog here.