17.7 million American women have been victims of rape
3% of American men have experienced rape
15% of all sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12
98% of rapists will never serve a single day in prison
47% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance of the victim
One of the biggest hindrances to stopping human trafficking is our society’s views on women. We live in a world where women are considered second-class citizens and objects to be used, while simultaneously expected to remain ‘pure’ and ‘valuable’. These conflicting beliefs lead to the punishment, abuse, trading, and overall dehumanization of women. This phenomenon is often referred to as ‘rape culture’.
What is Rape Culture?
“a complex of beliefs that encourages male sexual aggression and supports violence against women.”
“an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture.” https://www.marshall.edu/wcenter/sexual-assault/rape-culture/
We are all aware of what ‘culture’ is, the norms in a society that bind us all together. But how can rape be a normal part of our culture?
We don’t necessarily live in a society that openly promotes rape, but we are a society that enables rape, which is almost more dangerous because people are unaware of the consequences of their seemingly innocent actions. These commonly accepted social practices are often overlooked, trivialized, or joked about, leading to higher and higher instances of rape and sexual assault.
“But I don’t make rape jokes!”
While rape jokes are the most obvious example of rape culture, they are not the only things that perpetuate rape culture. Things like :
- Blaming the victim (“She asked for it!”)
- Trivializing sexual assault (“Boys will be boys!”)
- Sexually explicit jokes
- Tolerance of sexual harassment
- Inflating false rape report statistics
- Publicly scrutinizing a victim’s dress, mental state, motives, and history
- Defining “manhood” as dominant and sexually aggressive
- Defining “womanhood” as submissive and sexually passive
- Pressure on men to “score”
- Pressure on women to not appear “cold”
- Assuming only promiscuous women get raped
- Assuming that men don’t get raped or that only “weak” men get raped
- Refusing to take rape accusations seriously
- Teaching women to avoid getting raped instead of teaching men not to rape
“Does rape culture exist in America today?”
Even a Google news search for “rape” brings 42,500,000 results in .55 seconds. Check out the second and third headlines.
“So what can I do to prevent rape culture?”
- Be aware. You can’t prevent something you aren’t aware of, so keep an eye and an ear out for perpetuation of rape culture.
- If you see something, say something. Speak out against sexual assault jokes and mentions in casual conversation or media.
- If a friend says they has been raped, take them seriously and be supportive
- Think critically about the media’s messages about women, men, relationships, and violence
- Be respectful of others’ physical space even in casual situations
- Always communicate with sexual partners and do not assume consent
- Define your own manhood or womanhood. Do not let stereotypes shape your actions.
- Get involved! Join a student or community group working to end sexual violence.
How does any of this relate to human trafficking?
Human trafficking is made possible by elements of our society, like rape culture, that allow for and normalize the buying and selling of people and the use of victims for their bodies. By speaking out against rape culture, we are enlightening our society and helping to end the conditions that create human trafficking.
Writing for Freedom,