By Raquel Holguin |Coyote Contributor|
I have been known to say that in the world of opinions, there is no such thing as right or wrong, there is only yours and mine.
I know now that while there may not be right or wrong, there are definitely those who are informed and those who are misinformed.
I am not writing this to defend my feminist values and or to insult anyone who holds views that differ from mine.
I am writing this to inform our community about rape culture, because it exists and because education is the first step in prevention.
Psychologist Megan Strain defined rape culture as “a society in which sexual violence is prevalent, excused and encouraged by popular attitudes, norms, and media messages.”
Are we a culture that is plagued by sexual assault? Sadly, yes.
Rape is defined by the FBI as sexual assault when a victim is penetrated vaginally, orally and/or anally with an object, body part and/or sex organ by another person without their consent.
According to the National Violence Resource Center and Psychologists Tjaden and Thoennes, unfortunately, one in five women and one in 71 men will become a victim of completed rape or attempted rape at some point in their life.
FBI reports state that in 2013, a rape was committed every 6.6 minutes in the U.S.
Whether that weighs heavier in comparison to the number of those assaulted in the Congo is irrelevant.
What is relevant and true is that rape is a concerning and rapidly growing issue in the U.
Are rapists being thrown in jail? Not at the rate we would like to think they are.
Psychologists Megan Alderman and Sarah Ullman estimated that only 9 percent of victims actually report their assault to authorities.
Only 40 percent of those actually result in charges, and only 50 percent of those charges result in convictions.
That is roughly 3 percent of perpetrators who actually receive some form of legal consequences.
Are rapists’ behaviors excused? Yes.
When victim’s clothes, sobriety and sex life are brought into question, blame is shifted from the perpetrator to the victim.
Focus on the actual matter, sex without consent, is shifted to irrelevant factors.
It is simple: when there is no consent, it is rape. No outfit, amount of alcohol or previous sex life should ever take the blame before the perpetrator does.
It also important to note the difference between risk reduction methods and victim blaming.
Though they are overlapping issues, they are different. Risk reduction methods are tips that experts say will reduce your likeliness of getting raped.
Victim blaming is when the victim’s actions are considered to be the reason for the assault.
Those who do not utilize risk reduction methods are often blamed for their assault. At the end of the day, the perpetrator is to blame for the rape and they should be held responsible.
Is rape encouraged by popular social beliefs, norms and media? Yes.
Jokes, memes and comedy sketches about rape minimize the severity of sexual assault.
Though a rape joke may not directly cause rape to occur, it does breed a perspective which normalizes rape.
Jokes about sexual assault also invalidate the trauma that a survivor has experienced.
In July 2012, comedian Daniel Tosh joked about his sister being assaulted.
As if that wasn’t horrifying enough, Tosh took it a step further when a woman in the audience spoke up and said that rape jokes were never funny.
Tosh responded, “wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by, like, five guys right now?”
Many came to Tosh’s defense by saying that comedians have a right to joke about what they want and how they want.
While comedy is a great defense mechanism that allows some to deal with intense subjects, it is also a great way to become desensitized.
What are the consequences of denying the reality of rape culture?
Psychologists LeeAnn Kahlor and Matthew Eastin have this to say, “acceptance [in men] can lead to increased rape proclivity [and] in women, it can lead to taking inadequate rape prevention measures.”
How do we eradicate rape culture?
Name it. Its existence must be acknowledged before it can be addressed.
Challenge it. Speak out against ideas that sound and look like something that encourages, excuses or accepts rape culture.
As a VOICE peer at CSUSB and a Victim’s Advocate for San Bernardino Sexual Assault Services, I will continue to challenge rape culture and those who facilitate it.
Not because of my feminist agenda, but because I want to one day live in a rape free culture.