Turning Tables: an Analysis of Rape Culture

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Turning Tables
A well-dressed man is walking down a street at night. A hooded figure approaches him and pushes him against the wall. The attacker hits the man, steals his wallet and watch, and then he runs away. The following day the man reports the assault to the police station, where he is asked the following information: what was he wearing, had he been consuming alcohol, was he alone, was he aware that the neighborhood was a “bad” one, and had he given money to strangers or homeless people in the past. After reading such a story, people would think they have just read a joke. Nobody would ever blame the man for being robbed; nobody would ask the man about his outfit or his drinking habits. The same night a well-dressed woman is walking down a street. A hooded figure approaches her and pushes her against the wall. The aggressor hits her, rapes her, and then he flees. The following day the woman reports the assault to the police station, where a police officer interrogates her, asking the following information: did she remember any details about the assailant, what was she wearing, had she been consuming alcohol, was she alone, and was she aware that the neighborhood was a “bad” one. The woman leaves the police station feeling violated and mistreated, but mostly feeling responsible for being raped. If only she had worn a less racy outfit. If only she had worn flats. If only she had looked down and walked quicker. After reading this, one involuntarily starts wondering whether she was wearing revealing clothes or whether she had not taken the appropriate precautions. She was probably being too sexual. Perhaps one might event think she was “asking for it”. While this comparison is not particularly appropriate, it serves to show how victim blaming has become so ingrained in society that many people do not even realize they are doing it. This is only the tip of the iceberg that is rape culture, which can be demolished but requires awareness and targeted education. Although victim blaming in sexual assault has become an idea deeply ingrained in society, it can be stopped through the deconstruction of rape culture and sexual double standards. Historically rape has always been part of society, but it should no longer be accepted. Violence against women has always been commonplace, especially since women are specific targets to certain forms of violence such as incest, sexual harassment, beating, and rape. Each form of violence reinforces the others, keeping women quiet and controlling them, and eventually producing a systematic and persuasive constraint on them (Mankiller). Many double standards are still prevalent in our society, especially sexual ones. Women have to follow a certain set of rules that differ from the rules men have to follow. The simplest way to show this is analyzing slurs directed to the two genders. The words used to describe sexually promiscuous women are far more, and far more offensive, than those used to describe sexually promiscuous men. Slights addressed to sexually uninhibited men tend to be names of literary or historical figures, and are never degrading but actually dignifying, as they usually deliver a sense of authority and conquest (Tekanji). Unfortunately, there are still many problems and gaps both in the official law and in the way people, such as police officers, prosecutors, judges, health care providers, and social workers, act in regards to women who’ve experienced violence. “A rape culture is a complex of beliefs that encourages male sexual aggression and supports violence against women. It is a society where violence is seen as sexy and sexuality as violent. In rape culture, women perceive a continuum of threatened violence that ranges from sexual remarks to sexual touching to rape itself. A rape culture condones physical and emotional terrorism against women as the norm.” (Shakesville) One characteristic of rape culture is the...
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