Lauren L. Virginia

Rape Culture

This letter is about the prevalence of rape culture in our society today, what that means, and how to combat it.

Dear Madam President:

I believe one of the greatest issues in our society today is a matter of feminism and rape culture. The term 'rape culture' was designed to show how our society reacts to and normalizes sexual assault and victims of violence, originating in the 1970s. It is shocking that even today, in 2016, our society continues to blame and even shame victims of these devastating crimes. From a young age, girls are taught that our bodies are merely distractions for our male counterparts, and strict dress codes and harsh punishments for girls who want nothing more than to  be comfortable and self-expressive leave us wondering, why punish girls for being objectified instead of raising boys to respect all people equally, regardless of gender? I personally believe this stems back to the idea that victims, especially females, are held accountable for these crimes. One would never ask a man who's been set on fire why he wore such flammable clothes, so why does it seem logical to point out a survivor's clothing choice in relation to their assault?

There are people in this world, and this country, who believe women are nothing more than pretty things to ogle at or a source if sexual pleasure, and unfortunately this old-fashioned mind set has remained engrained in our society for far too long. However, I believe we have a chance for change. I think we should teach our children feminist values early, through schools, and I think we need stricter, more harsh punishments for sexual offenders.

The excuse California judge Aaron Persky, gave for the shockingly short sentence of Brock Turner, in the now infamous People v Turner court case of 2015, was that any sentence longer than six months in jail would have 'a severe impact on him'. The former Stanford University swimmer was found guilty and served only 3 months of a 6 month sentence after sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on the Stanford campus late at night. While it may seem bleak, there was a small ray of positivity from this horrible miscarriage of justice, and that was the massive outpouring of support for the victim and an international spotlight on the state of rape culture that is very much alive in America today. Feminists across the world were outraged at the idea that the impact jail may have on a convicted sexual offender held precedence over the emotional and physical impact left on the young woman affected by that horrible act. This mentality is a defining characteristic of rape culture today.

I believe there will be a massive impact on the spread and continuation of rape culture if there were harsher punishments for sexual offenders. Perhaps seeing these offenders duly punished will show Americans that crime of this nature are no laughing matter, and must be take with the utmost seriousness. We can not allow and leniency in the fight against sexual violence and abuse, for the sake of our future citizens and for the past and present victims who deserve, at least, the courtesy of being taken seriously, being believed, being defended, and being fought for both judicially and amongst the court of public opinion.

Equality among all peoples o this great nation is the goal. Fighting for this noble cause will take countless hours and unnumbered years, as well as more tenacity, bravery, and handwork than any one person can manage, but it is possible and when the day comes that these crimes no longer exist, or at least tried and treated with due respect, it will have all been worth it.

Sincerely a concerned citizen, 

Lauren Lanzlotto.

Smithfield High School

SHS AP Lang Blocks 1 & 2

Smithfield High School, AP Language and Composition, 11th grade

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