Rape culture: prevalent in today’s society, yet hardly discussed despite its normalization of sexual assault. By not having these conversations, we allow and perpetuate the hypersexualization of women, in which the sexual abilities of women are emphasized in accordance to the patriarchy.
The hypersexualization of, in particular, minority races often plays a major role in rape culture when it overtly objectifies women of color, especially through media such as television, music, and porn. It reinforces stereotypes by giving less positive roles to people of color and instead forces them into exotic roles. Subsequently, people of color not only have fewer opportunities, but the rare ones they do have continue to maintain a culture dangerous to minority women. This objectification normalizes women’s subservient role to men to the point of ownership, developing an inflammatory rape culture across the world.
A historical example of this can be seen within the Latinx community, having been continuously displayed as flamboyant and engaged in primarily heterogenous sexual relationships. This contributes to the idea that the Latinx community does not have LGBTQ+ members and are obsessed with sex, despite the fact that up to 1.4 million LGBTQ+ Latinx adults are currently living in America and are like other people of different cultures.
Alongside cultural and societal impacts are negative physical and mental effects as well: hypersexualized women face depleted confidence as rape culture has enforced cruel and likely caustic stereotypes. This leaves them feeling like they have to fit in certain body or standards, boxing them into threateningly negative mental spaces. Cultural appropriation falls into the category of especially disrespectful hypersexualization. When others characterize a certain culture to make themselves seem darker or more exotic, they degrade it to a simple stereotype or disrespectful portrayal that does not reflect the enormity of an entire culture. Consequently, hypersexualized standards are established, resulting in minority women left in a state of negative confusion about their identity.
On a more extreme yet real level, rape culture can and frequently does lead to sexual assault; hypersexualized people are the number one victims of sex trafficking. It is an implicit part of our culture to stay quiet in times of dire need, which necessitates the demand for open discourse and feasible solutions. It is time to hold accountability of fetishized media because they contribute to the rape culture mentality that severely damages communities of color. And most importantly, it is time for the universal realization that men do not have a right to any woman’s body.