Thursday, May 9, 2013

Rape Culture

Sometimes I wonder if people truly understand the depths to which our society has sunk (or hasn't risen from...?) when it comes to the rights of women, their value in society, their lack of protection, and the blame we as a culture often lay on them for things that are out of their control or completely antiquated.

One example of this is purity shaming. I was going to write a piece on this, but I think instead I will direct you to this recent post by Natalie. Our upbringings were very, very similar so I feel like my writing something is pointless when I would just make the same points.

But purity shaming is just one side to this many-faceted issue. A lot of it boils down to the condoning of rape and the victim-blaming that is encouraged and prevalent in our society. Some of it is very overt. I recently found this post from Instagram. It was reported under a number of different categories and yet it still hasn't been taken down. Why is this considered okay? I've heard people say "Oh, it's just a joke." Why is this even considered funny? What is funny about rape?

And, yes, you are seeing correctly with the "1036 likes".

Some ways we see this in our culture are less obvious, but still just as pervasive. Have you heard the words "she was asking for it", "ice queen", or "frigid bitch"? How about the lyrics from a popular Bruno Mars song? "Oh what do we have, another pretty thing ready for me to grab" and "if you scared, you better run". These seem like playful, flirtatious lyrics at first listen (and even I have to admit the song is catchy). But when we truly listen to those words, they have a kind of inherent violence and force to them. What about the "nice" guys that feel like women owe them sex simply when they don't act like a complete asshat? I'm sorry, but your behaving like a decent human being isn't an all access pass.

Their are two cases that geographically hit close to home. The first is the miraculous story of the escape of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight (three local girls) after being held captive for ten years by a man who kept them tied up in his basement and sexually assaulted them for years. Referencing the speech that Elizabeth Smart made about purity-shaming (and that was referenced in Natalie's post), a lot of times, victims of sexual assault assume they are worthless like a "chewed up piece of gum" and so they assume they are not "worth" rescuing. How horrible!

The second case is that of the Steubenville Rape Case where two high school athletes raped a female classmate (and she was also assaulted by others) and then spread the information via social media. Not only was the act itself despicable, but the media coverage was APPALLING (and yes, the all caps was necessary there). What did news anchors have to say about this violence against a girl in her own community from her schoolmates? Apparently all they thought worthy of airtime was a continuous lament about the ruined futures of the two high school athletes. I hope to god their futures are ruined! It is not deserving of a lament. They deserve extended prison time! It is a sad comment on society when someone copying illegally downloading academic papers (not for plagiarism) gets a longer prison sentence than two rapists.

What about all the women (formerly including myself, I will admit) who have believed these lies and have been taught that their value is tied up in their virginity, promiscuity, or the possessive nature of the men they encounter?

I had actually planned to write a nice, upbeat post today, but to be honest this issue kind of has me pissed off, so I'm leaving it at this.
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