Over the past few weeks, this article series has looked at different aspects of rape culture, from the gender socialization issues (in part 1) from which it’s born to the complexities of victim blaming in dealing with rape victims (in part 2). In this last piece, we’ll take a hard look at the widespread misconceptions about rape, and ultimately, what things we can do individually and as a society to address the problem.
The Commonness of Rape
One of the problems about rape is that it is seen as a rare event. If you talk about rape with people, especially guys, most will say they’ve never known anyone who has been raped. When you tell people the truth, that 1 in 5 women have survived rape or attempted rape, they find it hard to believe. Most people know someone who have been mugged, had their car stolen, their home broken into, etc. but few people can think of a single person who has been raped. They find it hard to accept that such a high proportion of the women they know have probably faced rape or a rape attempt. Their perception of reality doesn’t match up, so many distrust the statistic. The only ones they hear about are ones that pop up in the media. The truth is that many victims keep quiet about their rapes and don’t press charges. Even if they do seek support from a few trusted people, many just don’t want to make it common knowledge. They often feel embarrassed and ashamed, as though they should have done more to prevent it. With victim blaming so prominent in our culture, it’s all too understandable why they might feel that way.
Last week I started discussing what rape culture is and the gender socialization issues for both men and women that contribute to its perpetuation. This week I’ll be going into more detail about specific issues related to rape culture, starting with victim blaming.
Understanding the Problem of Victim Blaming
The idea behind victim blaming is that by engaging in certain behaviours, victims are inviting crimes upon themselves. It is not limited to sexual assault crimes, but it is a cultural norm for them.
While I was attending self-defense lectures at the the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation 2014 training camp, I had the opportunity to speak with dozens of women who work at trauma centres that help women who have been raped. These women told me that time and time again they hear women talk about how fathers, brothers, friends, cops, etc, tell them that they should not have engaged in such risky behaviours in dealing with them as rape victims. Unless you’ve been through it, work with or spoken to people who have, there’s no reason why you would know how common it is. Here are some examples rape victims commonly encounter: (more…)
While I was driving home yesterday, a Vancouver radio announcer on 99.3 The Fox started commenting about the nude photos of Jennifer Laurence and other celebrities that were leaked by a hacker who had obtained them by criminal means. He went on to say that of course it wasn’t right, but who in their right mind would store their nude photos on a Internet-based storage system. He later talked about whether or not it was right to look at said photos, going on to admit that yeah, he was a bad man and sneaked a peek. (more…)