Rape Culture: the sociological concept used to describe a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality.
In a broader sense, Rape Culture is the sociological concept used to describe a setting that normalizes sexual harassment/assault due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality. A lot of times, victims of sexual harassment and assault of diverse forms are not taken seriously when they speak; often they are stigmatized and this is regardless of their gender. The most profound statement this writer has heard that directly addresses rape and rape culture is by Jackson T. Katz; an American educator, filmmaker and author:
We talk about how many women were raped last year, not about how many men raped women. We talk about how many girls in a school district were harassed last year, not about how many boys harassed girls. We talk about how many teenage girls in the state of Vermont got pregnant last year, rather than how many men and boys impregnated teenage girls. So you can see how the user of the passive voice has a political effect. [It] shifts the focus off of men and boys and onto girls and women. Even the term ‘violence against women’ is problematic. It’s a passive construction; there’s no active agent in the sentence. It’s a bad thing that happens to women, but when you look at that term ‘violence against women’, nobody is doing it to them. It just happens to them, men aren’t even a part of it.
In the US, statistics say that one in 5 women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. Rape is the most under reported crime; 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to police. Only 12% of child sexual abuse is reported to the authorities. In Nigeria, in a retrospective study conducted in Lagos State between January 2008 and December 2012 (the most comprehensive statistical research on the subject of sexual assault/harassment in Nigeria this author could find), results state that out of the 39,770 new gynaecological cases at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital during this period, 304 were alleged sexual assault giving an incidence of 0.76% among hospital gynaecological consultations. Only 287 case notes had sufficient information for statistical analysis and of these, 83.6% were below 19 years, 73.1% knew their assailants and about 54.6% of the assaults occurred in neighbours’ homes.
While sexual assault is a terrible experience that happens to people regardless of gender, it goes without saying that women are bigger targets for sexual harassment and assault than men. This writer could also dwell on that fact and get in her feels, but she won’t. New cases of sexual harassment and assault happen every day, and while the whole world agrees that harassing or assaulting a person sexually is a heinous act, we are still yet to agree on the right way to treat victims and harassers. Based on the concept that is rape culture, we have a majority of people who are rape apologists; who rationalize sexual harassment and assault and try to establish a reason why the victim was sexually harassed or assaulted, when in reality there is no justification for sex crimes.
There usually are the questions of what the victim was wearing or what kind of relationship was established between the victim and the perpetrator and when either of these questions have established answers, there is shift in spotlight from the fact a person has just been unjustly traumatized to what this person could or should have done to not have been traumatized; this is wrong. In conversations with some people about the different facets of rape culture, I have found that a lot of people actively believe that rape can be provoked and in such cases, the victim has to take some blame for pushing the perpetrator to such lengths as sexual harassment or penultimate rape; in the words of one such individual,
“it’s not rape if you’re looking for it.”.
Paradigms like these have become even bigger problems than the actual sex crimes.
“Sexual harassment/assault is bad, but what were you wearing when he/she saw you?”
“Sexual harassment/assault is a crime, but why would you go to a rave with your friends, don’t you know someone could spike your drink?”
“Sexual harassment/assault is heinous, but if my brother did it, I’d do everything in my power to keep him out of jail.”
“Sexual harassment/assault should be unthinkable, but…”
Like Lord Eddard Stark once said
“Everything before ‘but’ is horseshit”.
There needs to be an end to the rationalization/justification of sexual harassment and sex crimes. There is no reason for anyone regardless of their preferred garb or the relationship between the victim and perpetrator or even the fact that the victim may have been sexually suggestive at some point in time to sexually harass or assault another human being. It is wrong. No one should justify such physical, emotional, psychological trauma on any grounds.
What we should be doing is creating an environment for Rape Culture to NOT thrive; THERE ARE NO BUTS!
Around Africa we’ve normalized the idea of underage girls, ladies, women, getting their sexual rights forcefully taken from them by the ‘men of society’. In some cultures it’s seen as tradition, as a way for women to be treated.
Nothing more than objects to please, to clean, to use, we need to forget such idiotic ideas.
Women are beautiful beings with the same equal right be it sexual or physical, they can be whatever the choose to and no one has a right to subject them forcefully, NO BUTS.