Dear future President of the United States,
I am here to talk to you about rape culture. It normalizes sexual violence and degrades women. It needs to stop.
What is rape culture?
The term rape culture was first used by feminists in the 1970s who were trying to raise awareness against rape. Back then many people thought that rape and sexual violence were extremely rare, which was not the case. Rape culture is used to describe a society which blames rape victims for their assault and normalizes male sexual violence through pop culture and the media. Rape culture can also be shown through the objectification and sexualization of women’s bodies and misogynistic language. Sexualization and objectification of women’s bodies means turning women’s bodies into sex objects, which is commonplace in the media. An example of this is male singers or rappers using women in little clothing in their music videos. These women seem to “decorate” these videos; their only purpose is to look “sexy”. Rape culture normalizes sexual violence through blaming the victim,trivializing rape by saying things like “boys will be boys”, ignoring sexual harassment, teaching women not to get raped instead of teaching men not to rape, and not taking rape accusations seriously.
Rape culture is not a made up thing, it is part of our culture here in the USA if you know where to look. On January 2015, a 22 year old woman passed out drunk at a party at Stanford University and woke up in a hospital. She later heard that she had been raped by Brock Turner, a 20 year old man, while she was unconscious. Two grad students had been biking along that area and tackled the rapist and held him down until the police came. Turner was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault. He faced a maximum of 14 years in prison, but was given 3 months sentence in county jail and probation. Why? The judge claimed that any more time in prison would have “a severe impact on him”. In court the victim said she was verbally attacked with question after question such as: “Are you a heavy drinker? What were you wearing? Are you serious with your boyfriend? Would you ever cheat?” The rapist in question claimed that the woman had given consent to have sex with him, but the woman says she remembers nothing except passing out at the party and then waking up at the hospital. Those on Turner’s side blamed her rape on her being intoxicated.
This story is an example of how the victim of sexual assault is often blamed instead of the rapist. Even though both Brock Turner and the woman who was raped were intoxicated, only one of them penetrated the other without consent. He brought it upon himself and was not made to face the consequences. The rape victim was attacked with invading questions right after her traumatic experience, which I think is incredibly cruel. These questions were basically accusing the victim of her rape, which is a common attribute to rape culture. This case is one of the main examples of rape culture. It is very hard for people to face the fact that rape is rape, and wearing something or saying something or being drunk is NEVER “asking for it”. The judge said that a longer sentence would have a negative effect on Turner’s life. This is a ridiculous statement. He completely ignored the fact that the victim was also impacted by this chain of events. Many rape victims suffer from PTSD, there is no doubt that the victim was not okay after this experience.
Rape Culture affects every woman. The rape of one woman is a new horror to the potential next victim. Most women and girls change the way they live because of the existence of rape. Women and girls often travel in groups at night, carry around pepper spray, learn self defence, and dress in covered clothes to avoid sexual harassment. Most women and girls live in fear of rape. Men, in general, do not. That’s how rape functions as a powerful force meaning the whole female population is kept a step down from the whole male population, even though many men don’t rape, and many women are never victims of rape.
This cycle of fear is the legacy of rape culture. In order to achieve women’s equality, which is important to me (and hopefully to the next president) we need to stop rape culture. When rape culture still exists, half the population lives in fear. That is something we cannot have for the US.
This topic is important to me because I am a pre-teen girl who is reaching the age of when I am more likely to be the victim of sexual violence. A woman is most likely to be raped between the ages of 12-34. I do NOT want to live in a world where our society degrades women through sexual violence. I want to be a successful and capable woman when I am older and be equal to men. But I cannot not do that when rape culture surrounds me. The only thing we can do against rape culture at this point is to educate people about it. Since you are the president you hold great influence over our citizens. If you mention this topic in a speech everyone will know a little more about rape culture. I also urge you to create stricter regulations concerning the consequences for sexual violence. I implore you to do these things which will hopefully help.
Cassandra ( a seventh grade girl)
Bruni, Frank. "Tackling the Roots of Rape." The Opinion Pages. New York Times, 12 Aug. 2013. Web. 5 Nov. 2016.
Fuller, Thomas. "Court Papers Give Insight Into Stanford Sex Assault." New York Times, 12 June 2016. Web. 5 Nov. 2016.
Kacmarek, Julia, and Elizabeth Geffre. "Rape Culture Is: Know It When You See It." The Blog. Huffington Post, 1 June 2013. Web. 4 Nov. 2016.