If you’re wearing a short skirt, get drunk and pass out at a guy’s house, don’t complain when this happens to you:
“Real men treat women with respect.” That’s the message that people, men included, have been trying to scream over the loud cries of “she deserved it,” ever since the rapists in the Steubenville case were found guilty (and long before that). The defense attorney representing the rapists tried to make it her fault because she chose to drink to excess and did not specifically say “no;” members of the media lamented the ruined lives of two promising young athletes and said she needed to look at her own role in the incident; and Buzzfeed compiled a list of 23 posts, messages and tweets blaming the girl for what happened to her.
That the young man above even needed to make a video demonstrating how he would treat an unconscious woman is a deeply sad statement about America and rape culture. Still, it’s definitely a message worth paying very close attention to as it’s entirely too common for our society to blame a rape victim for being raped.
There are two main facets of rape culture. The first is that the victim is to blame for the crime. Usually a woman, people will say, as they have said in the Steubenville case, shouldn’t have dressed a certain way, behaved a certain way, gotten drunk, gone out alone, walked down an alley, etc. You name it, she shouldn’t have done it, because not doing it would have prevented her from being raped.
It’s so bad that a female judge in Arizona blamed a woman for a police officer groping her under her skirt in a bar. Judge Jacqueline Hatch, after ruling that DPS Officer Robb Evans was guilty of sexual abuse, told the victim, “If you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you.” She then went on to tell the victim that she hoped she learned a lesson about friendship and vulnerability, and that blaming others takes away a person’s power to change.
The victim believes, and perhaps rightly so, that if she hadn’t been there, it would have happened to someone else. The judge said she wasn’t to blame, and then blamed her anyway, because “bad things happen in bars.”
A picture depicting a topless woman wearing pasties and the phrase, “Still not asking for it,” painted across her torso, has been circulating the Internet and drawing cheers from many quarters. It was intended to show that no matter how a woman is dressed, unless she specifically says “yes,” she is not asking for it. Many who saw this picture cheered the woman as standing up against rape culture, but it also drew disparagement from those who still adhere to rape culture.
The other major facet of rape culture is the expectation that men are slaves to their instincts in much the same way animals are. Women must protect themselves by behaving in “acceptable” ways because men can’t be trusted to behave in an honorable fashion. Rape culture assumes that men are a lower life form, incapable of higher thought, reason, and self-control. Comments on the STFU Conservatives Tumblr, with the picture of the topless woman, do show that people, including men, believe that men should not be expected to exercise control.
Either way, if you think that women need to control themselves or that men can’t control themselves, you are a part of America’s rape culture.