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.