Dear Future President,
Rape culture is carried on by the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of a person’s body, and the glamorization of sexual violence, according to the Marshall University Women’s Center. Though it is not a new concept, credited to the patriarchy, it is has just recently dominated conversation among people. It has become a more prominent issue, especially when discussing rape, on who is at fault for the crime and what qualifies as a justifiable punishment.
Rape culture goes beyond the act of rape itself extending to misogynistic lyrics in songs, and the objectification of women in advertisements. Robin Thicke’s song “Blurred Lines”, released in 2013, is just one example of a song that embodies misogyny by adding lyrics such as, “I know you want it,” insinuating that men know what is best for females. The popularity of this song the year it was released only proves to show the ignorance of our society on social issues such as this one. It doesn’t stop there either. Advertisements often portray women as objects in order to further the success of their business. Many claim that sex sells, but when does it stop being an advertising technique and starts being offensive and diminishing towards women? This thought of male superiority has a direct effect on the way society views rape victims, and why it is often hard to blame men for their detestable actions.
In 2013, two high school football players raped an innocent girl, then shared photos of her assault on social media, where people then began attacking the victim, saying it was her fault and she brought the traumatizing event upon herself. When the verdict came out, both perpetrators were given minimum sentences, one was given one year and the other received two years in jail. Instead of showing sympathy for the victim, one CNN reporter covering the trial commented on the verdict, saying “It was incredibly difficult… to watch what happened as these two young men that had such promising futures, star football players, very good students, literally watched as they believed their lives fell apart.” She intentionally defended the aggressors, ignoring the trauma and emotional instability this unfortunate girl was forced to face for the rest of her life.
In addition to defending them, the media also refuses to depict these perpetrators for what they truly are: rapists. A more recent account of rape prevailed back in June of this year, where a college student, Brock Turner, took advantage of a female at party, and got away with just three months in jail. Similar to the previous rape case discussed, people immediately began defending him, claiming that his future should not be determined by this twenty minute action. Instead of the media referring to him as a rapist, news outlets, like CNN, name him as “An All-American swimmer at Stanford.” This diminishes the severity of the crime committed, and adds glory to his name, when, in reality, rape is anything but glorious.
How do we end this vicious cycle of victim blaming? We need to start by recognizing the unwritten rules of consent. When a woman says no, she means no. A drunken state is no excuse to take advantage of her body, contrary to what many believed regarding the Brock Turner case. Educating Americans on what qualifies as rape can help eliminate absurd headlines defending the rapist.
Is it possible to eliminate the misogyny our society holds? By raising awareness of rape culture and what constitutes as harassment and objectification, society will be more susceptible to recognizing it when they see it in advertisements or songs. This will force advertisers to be more conscientious in their propaganda so they don’t receive backlash for being discriminatory against women.
Patriarchal values are embedded into our society because of the difference in the way the world was for our ancestors. Now is the time to put an end to it, and raise awareness for a concept that has long been ignored by our nation.