Sexual assault is the product of rape culture

Sexual assault is the product of rape culture

Sexual assault is the product of rape culture
November 13
17:04 2017

In recent weeks, a collection of different high-profile public figures have been exposed for sexual assault and harassment. Among them are Bill O’Reilly, Kevin Spacey, Mike Halperin and most infamously, Harvey Weinstein. As horrifying as it is that men in the public eye can get away with abuse like this for so long, what’s even more horrifying is that other people knew about it.

This secrecy, protection of predators and intimidation of victims allows sexual violence to happen. This is rape culture.

So many aspects of our society reinforce rape culture and some people don’t even realize it. Notice the inherent violence with which we casually refer to sex: “bang,” “smash,” “hit.”

Slut-shaming contributes to rape culture in that it validates the “she was asking for it” mentality, preserving the idea that we can treat people differently based on their choice of clothing or amount of sexual partners. Overly protective dads forbidding their daughters (but not their sons) to date is another example. Like all the other facets of rape culture, this creates a double standard that supports the objectification of women.

Rape culture doesn’t mean women cannot commit sexual violence or men cannot be assault victims. It means there is an environment in our society that trivializes sexual assault, and according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 90 percent of adult rape victims are female. With this in mind, it is clear who rape culture harms the most.

The well-known aforementioned abusers were all dropped from their respective employers or companies, but only after the incidents were publicized. A $150,000 settlement is a slap on the wrist to an unimaginably rich man like Weinstein. He could potentially continue abusing women for years, pay them all off, and never spend a day in prison. Rich, well-known men have a dangerous amount of power that all but gives them a Get Out of Jail Free card. There are likely thousands more like Weinstein, in the media and elsewhere, abusing power and facing no consequences.

The #MeToo tag that trended on Twitter made the sexual assault issue impossible to ignore. It showed us all just how common sexual violence and harassment is. But we shouldn’t need an exhaustive outpouring of assault stories from people we know and love for us to realize the magnitude of the issue. We shouldn’t need to imagine personal relationships with victims in order to sympathize.

“It could have been my daughter.” It is a daughter. It is millions of daughters, millions of sisters, millions of friends. The fact that they have no relation to you doesn’t make their traumas matter less. Start caring about the wellbeing of all women as much as you care about the wellbeing of the women in your family.

Each week there’s another household name in the headlines being accused of sexual harassment, and for the sake of justice, I hope it never stops. There’s a crack in the foundation of silence and complicity towards sexual assault, and it is only the beginning.

Featured illustration by Max Raign

About Author

Rachel Herzer

Rachel Herzer

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