Rape culture: not just a women’s issue


Caroline McKay

A poster from advocates who call for society to rethink the way we frame sexual assault


When you were younger, there were some things that your parents and other adults probably taught you so you wouldn’t get kidnapped. Stranger danger, right? 

Kids know not go with a stranger or take candy from a stranger. Yet when you hear about a child being kidnapped they are never blamed. Yes they took the candy but we blame the person who offered the candy. Because we know that it is wrong to kidnap and that the kid is a victim.

So how come women are blamed when they are raped or sexually assaulted?  It is a societal norm that needs to be recognized and fixed. Rape Culture; a society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse. 

In simpler terms, it’s when a girl gets raped or assaulted and people say she was asking for it. 

It’s guys who complain they can’t do anything anymore without being accused of sexual assault. It is a woman who comes forward about sexual assault, and told she is ruining a man’s life. 

It is parents teaching their daughters how to not get raped instead of telling their sons not to rape. It is women who are so conscious of the threat of being raped they walk with keys in their hands to use as a weapon. 

It is the fact that 1:5 women get raped and only 37 percent of these rapes are reported. It is people having to make a movement just to give victims the bravery to speak out. It is Brett Kavanaugh being put on the supreme court. It is Americans saying Christine Blasey Ford was lying. 

It is when a man can say “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything” and still be elected President.

These are real life things. Everyone has heard about at least one of these. Rape culture is all around you. 

Children grow up surrounded by things that condemn and make light of rape. Songs with lyrics such as “say what’s in this drink,” “Tell me more, tell me more, did she put up a fight?” and “I hate these blurred lines” are on the radio for kids to hear. 

You may think “well that’s a bit extreme” or “the kids don’t know what that means”. Well kids don’t know what swears are either but usually you don’t swear around little kids. The reason you can not play these songs around kids is because subconsciously they are listening to these songs and learning that they can either disrespect women, or if they are a girl they should expect to be treated that way.  Subconsciously as a society we are accepting that rape and sexual assault is normal.

Some people may disagree that this is a societal norm. They may think our society does not feel this way. To that I remind you that Brett Kavanaugh is a supreme court justice. A woman stood up and said she was sexually assaulted by this man and Americans said she was lying. A woman received death threats and was mocked by the President. A President whom our country elected. Kavanaugh was defended by Senators that we elected. As a society we chose people who normalize sexual assault and rape.

By doing this we also normalize sexual assault and rape. 

As a country we mourn the career losses of rapists such as Brock Turner. We pity men who have to be careful now, because suddenly as a society people are speaking out. But it is still not enough. Because men are still seen as the victims. Because Brock Turner was portrayed by the media as a “freshman swimmer” and only ended up spending 3 months in prison. We question women and accuse them of lying. 

More than 90 percent of accusations are proven true. Yet we still say women are just coming forward for attention. This isn’t just a women’s issue; it affects everyone.

How can high schoolers fix rape culture?  

What differentiates rape and sex is consent. So, lets start there. Instead of “no means no” the new norm should be “yes means yes”. Nothing besides yes is consent. Not maybe, not ehh I’m not sure. Only a definitive yes.  The first time a person is asked. Not after saying no five times and then giving in. 

Now educate people around you. Instead of telling women to invest in self defense, tell guys to not rape. If your friend brags about being able to “do whatever he wants” tell him he can’t. When you grow up, teach your kids about consent. Next time you hear about a woman speaking out, don’t say they were asking for it because of their clothing. 

Don’t pity men and say that their life is being ruined. Pity the victim who has been through a traumatic experience. 

Rape Culture is a societal norm that needs to be recognized and fixed. This starts with you educating the people around you. 

Because boys grow up seeing men get away with rape, and girls grow up seeing woman get dragged through the dirt for coming forward. Because for so long women were afraid to step forward. Because Brett Kavanaugh got put on the Supreme court while Dr. Christine Balsley Ford received death threats and was mocked by the President of the United States. Because consent is not hard. Because it is never the victim’s fault.