How Our Society Perpetuates Rape Culture

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Courtesy of The Odyssey Online

“No means yes, yes means anal.”

And then they laugh. Because it is a joke. And jokes are funny. I feel the urge to laugh too; they’re laughing, shouldn’t I? But that’s the thing— it’s not funny. It shouldn’t be a joke, and yet, our culture, our society, we have made it one.

From the time we are born, we are shown that the prince saves the princess with a magic kiss she never asked for, the boy surprises the girl by proclaiming his love and then kissing her without her permission. And yes, those fictional women appreciated it, but that’s exactly what they are— fictional. There have been so many times when a boy has kissed someone, touched someone, attacked someone, because women in movies always like it, and the notion that we need to ask permission is just liberal nonsense, and that girls really like it if you just go for it. Maybe some girls like that, sure. But the problem lies in how we are force-fed ideas that all girls do, brainwashed into believing them. Many don’t understand that for girls who don’t, its rape. The media, jokes, little things, all enable rape culture. Our culture.

“Well, your clothing must have been provocative. It was partly your fault.”

Clothing and fashion should not be an indication of wanting sex. Nobody should be able to interpret whether you want them or not by how much skin you are showing. Your uncovered shoulders and thighs should never exist as an invitation for objectification.

“Mmm, she’s hot, you gonna hit that?”

Why is the response never, “I might ask, respectfully, and if she gives her full consent, I would,”? This sounds like a joke, but it’s not. Thousands of men across America assume that they have a right to a girl’s body, that she shouldn’t have the power to make her own decisions, and by laughing at those jokes, by making fun of rules put in place to protect people, you are supporting this conviction.

“You never said no.”

One of the scariest moments someone can experience in their life is someone is touching them without permission. When they just freeze and can’t move. When they feel violated but can’t say anything because if they do, what if the harasser get violent? What if I make a scene and humiliate myself? What if other people see and look at me that way as if I had it coming? No one should be blamed and hurt for their rational fears, for being subjected to society’s norms. Yes means yes. If that was not spoken, you do not have permission.

This is not to say that all/only men do this, many do not, and 10% of sexual assault victims are men. It is just as serious when a boy is assaulted, just as horrible. Not all rapists are men, and definitely not all men are rapists, but we live in a culture that subtly promotes misogyny through humor, custom, and assumption, and that is a direct cause of a huge portion of the problem.

If you are reading this thinking that you have never seen anything like this happen, that you cannot relate, know you are lucky. On average, a person is sexually assaulted in the US once every 98 seconds. One in six women is the victim of rape or attempted rape. And six out of six times, it is not their fault. They are not saying this for attention. These people were abused. These people will go through the constant struggle of trying to forget, trying to move on.  This will affect these people forever.

Please do not laugh. Please do not support. Please do not inflict. Please never doubt. Please always ask. Please do not ruin a life.

-Katie Jain