Many women who believe they have been raped are surprised to find out they have not. It’s the realization that is unfortunately implemented on victims when they try to do the right thing and report their rape. We see this dismissal of what rape means in the common cases on college campuses. When a boy and a girl are at a party, and they’re both drinking and flirting all night, and she’s wearing a short skirt and he’s making moves, if she agrees to go to his room with him, she’s apparently also agreeing to have sex with him. Even though she did not want to. Friends, police, and advisors on campus tell the girl that it was consensual. In reality, she was raped. She offered no clear-cut consent, and did not want to go through with it; she was robbed of her rights. Yet, it is the denial and the opinions from others that reject the girl’s trauma that is a part of rape culture.
Rape culture is when people side with the accused instead of the victim. The victim is under scrutiny and is automatically presumed as a liar. The culture is a part of our society; it’s something that is taught and learned at a young age and throughout development.” Examples in the media, gender norms and gender stereotypes teach girls to be ladylike and reserved, while boys are taught to be aggressive and are encouraged with heterosexuality. Kate Harding, when she says, “Boys are taught that sex is their right – it’s on demand, basically – and that girls will resist, and their job is to overcome that resistance support this.” Girls aren’t encouraged to speak up for what they want, and when they do, it’s seen as a game. In this game, the perpetrators of rape are the winners, and the victims are the losers. Of course, not all rapists are men; even female rapists are held at a higher stance than their victims.
When the victim of a crime is held accountable in some way, shape or form, he or she is the result of victim blaming. In contexts of rape culture, victim blaming may include accusations that the victim was being provocative or suggestive, thus she was asking to be raped. Slut shaming is essentially the same thing. If someone were to tell a victim that because of the way she dressed, she was asking to get raped, they are slut shaming her based on her appearance. These terms make up the core of rape culture, and it influences rape victims to suffer in silence. Many rape victims do not report their rape because they are fearful of not being believed by their friends and the police. In fact, the victim might not even know for sure if she was actually raped and may blame themselves for what happened. This is detrimental to their well-being, and it all contributes to rape culture. Take Kali’s story, for example. After many years of friendship with a man, he raped her. After she had been drinking and smoking all night, and agreed to sleep in his bed with him. Not to have sex, just to sleep. She says, “It was my fault, right? I’d had too much to drink, I accepted that joint, I agreed to stay at his apartment! I brought this on myself. Or at least, that’s what I made myself believe. I wasn’t even sure you could consider the act ‘sexual assault.’ His word against mine, and we all know how that would play out given my previous reputation and my actions that night.” She never went to the police because she knew her story wouldn’t stand, and even though she said “no,” she still felt guilty. When she says, “we all know how that would play out,” she reveals the issues involved in the consequences of reporting a rape that are universally known. People are raped because of what they are taught throughout their life; victims of rape have to choose between suffering in silence or exposing their trauma to disbelievers, and the rapist will continue on with their life, or if justice is served, will face the necessary consequences.
“America Has a Rape Problem – And Kate Harding Wants to Fix It.” Rolling Stone. Lauren Kelley, 24 August 2015. Web. 26 October 2015.
“Why Victims of Rape in College Don’t Report to the Police.” Time. Eliza Gray, 23 June 2014. Web. 26 October 2015.
“I Survived Date Rape.” Her Story. Kali Rogers, 28 June 2015. Web. 12 November 2015.