I was reading about the case of the “Stanford Swimmer” and the article was dancing around the issue so much, you’d think the kids only crime was swimming for Stanford. Most outlets were afraid to show his mug shot or call him what he is:
a Convicted Rapist.
As survivors of rape who come forward, (90% do not and its still the most underreported violent crime) soon realize, the first rape is only the beginning. Society piles on. We ALL pile on. We trigger and cajole, we try to understand and relate in our own ham-fisted ways, we fall all over ourselves armed with political agendas, and we try too hard to talk while nobody listens to the victims.
We can’t even get to an agreement about the language. Until we can agree on language we can’t get much further.
So let’s talk about the language. For the record, there is no such thing as “non-consensual sex.” People have consensual sex or someone is raped. Period. Full stop.
Rape happens all day, every day.
Rape Culture is a term that was coined by feminists in the United States in the 1970’s. It was designed to show the ways in which society blamed victims of sexual assault and normalized male sexual violence. A complex set of beliefs that encourage male sexual aggression and supports violence against women. It’s about what we collectively think about and how we react to sexual assault, and violence in general.
Rape is ignored, trivialized, normalized, or made into jokes. Rape Culture is promoted by Grammy award winning hit songs. Rape Culture is promoted on billboards as violence against women to advertise a silly superhero movie. And the only chance any of it gets better is if we as parents & caregivers first LISTEN and learn about Rape Culture, privilege, power and societal oppression, speak up and speak out as we can, and in ways most germane to our future, walk the talk for the kids in our charge.
Here are examples of Rape Culture and what us parents are up against:
Platinum selling songs about “Blurred lines” that people love and children dance to at everything from birthday parties to Bar Mitzvahs, everyone hears the lyrics but no one chooses to listen.
Insultingly light sentences for the privileged–like convicted rapist Brock Turner’s pathetic six month slap on the wrist by a sympathetic judge who “Doesn’t want to ruin the boys life.” What about his victim, whose life he ruined? And the parents who made excuses for “twenty minutes of action.” He was caught raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster while taking pictures and sending them to his buddies.
Victims on trial for their own abuse. It’s being charged the cost of processing your own rape kit, if police even consider or bother preserving any physical evidence.
Making the victims wardrobe, intoxication level, behavior, sexual history, or education level the issue instead of the perpetrators action.
It’s being a Black Woman or Trans or Poor White or Gay or a Sex Worker or Prisoner in a Correctional Facility in the States care.
It’s not being CIS Male & Straight, in a CIS White Supremacist society.
It’s fraternities that create hashtags like #doingitforstate and their apologist sorority sisters that say “she had it coming”.
It’s the media that can both sensationalize rape and ignore rape simultaneously.
It’s perpetuating the lie that “boys don’t cry.”
It’s victims, keeping their abuse to themselves and carrying on the best they can because they see the first rape is only the beginning, because WE, our society are standing by ready to abuse them again if they dare come forward.
Rape Culture diminishes us all, and we all buy into it to this culture to some degree when we refuse to tackle any “isms” that are the breeding grounds for the power discrepancy that is the heart of the mater.
Rape is what those with power do to those without. I’ve little use for talk about rape that isn’t intersectional.
That’s why the biggest victims of rape are—heartbreakingly—children, Trans and Non-Gender conforming specifically. They lack the power others have.
Nothing will change until are ready to first acknowledge these power discrepancies exist. And then proceed to tackle the power vacuums in all aspects of society in affirmative ways.
It must start from the cradle and continue throughout ones life. It is a journey of raising ones own personal awareness and it is generational. It took a long time to get here and it won’t be solved overnight.
The exploitation of power, Rich/Poor White/Minority, Male/Female Adult/Child is corruptive, breeds injustice, and is counterproductive in addressing the needs of educating our youth on BOTH sides of the equation.
Here’s an example, as a CIS Straight Male, I acknowledge my CIS Straight Male Privileges.
As a child, I was able to find plenty of non-limiting, gender role stereotyped media to view.
I can get up at a bar with little concern of watching my drink.
When I was dating, I had little concern about going home with women I didn’t know well or walking home alone or waiting on a deserted subway platform late at night.
When I’m praised now for caring for my children, instead of being expected to be the full-time caretaker.
When I can complete a sentence uninterrupted.
When leaders of every major religion, share my gender and it’s teachings are firmly Male CIS Straight centered.
Both Privileged and Oppressed members of our society must commit to break vicious cycles of abuse. Owning your own privilege and spending that currency to raise awareness of others in your group is an important step. As parents, we must be also be vigilant about the messages we send, primarily on how we conduct ourselves, as all parents eventually realize our children are sponges.
How many times have you heard or seen yourself in your children? For good and ill. They may hear half of what you say, but they see ALL of what you do.
Which societal messages we accept or challenge speak volumes.
But I believe our collective silence on Rape Culture to date is deafening.
Photo: Charlotte Cooper / flickr
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