I absorb a lot of news during the day. I’ve got the “Pulse” app on my phone to follow five different news source’s headlines through the day. I listen to the radio for news in between classes and work. Of course I check the South Bend Tribune on Sundays, and check local news online. It’s a lot of information. I’m pretty sure it probably bumps out some more personally important things (like how I really need to work on homework or “it’s been how long since I did laundry?”). But one thing is for certain, the term “rape culture” keeps coming up.
Whether it’s the most recent atrocities in India, or referring to events such as those that happened in Steubenville, OH (and how the media handled it), it’s clear that this is a hot topic right now. And shouldn’t it be? We’vebroken through the barrier in the media where we can talk about atrocities in a certain light. Sure, it isn’t something everyone wants to hear about when they sit down to eat their dinner after work, but this is the world we currently live in.
Rape should offend all of us: male, female, or otherwise. It is an act of intrusion into another’s most sacred, personal space. It’s offensive. It’s uncomfortable. Talking about rape makes people squirm. Nobody likes to think about it happening to themselves, someone they know, or even somebody that they don’t know. It’s just not something that most of us are programmed to think about in a comfortable manner.
Are we living in a “rape culture”? It would seem so, to some extent. Seeing the reaction of major news networks to the Steubenville rape story, you would think the athletes were the true victims. Their once promising futures in sports and academics are now ruined. But not to mention or gloss over the fact that the poor girl was raped at a party when she extremely intoxicated, and what that has done to her, is a telling sign of the times.
A few notable campaigns have stuck out in recent months bringing awareness to the issue. On Valentine’s Day (V-day, as referred to by the group), One Billion Rising staged dances to raise awareness to the fact that one in three women will be beaten or raped in their lifetime (onebillionrising.org). Patrick Stewart (Captain Jean Luc-Picard? Star Trek: The Next Generation, anyone?) spoke on International Women’s Day about his personal experiences with his mother’s abuse and encouraged men to join the “One million men. One million promises.”-movement (huffingtonpost.com), which hopes to make a tipping point in the movement against violence against women.
As a woman, it is good to see men get involved in the conversation as well (in a not so-“women’s bodies have the ability to shut down that sort of thing” type way). That being said, I do think that possibly a more well-rounded education as to how anatomy works might be something to think about as well.
Protecting our fellow women and men from the terrors of domestic violence and rape is something that we should all be able to agree on, no matter religious or political affiliation. When rape has been politicized, and the rapists are being defended for their actions, that is when we know we live in a rape culture. It is an offensive fact of our times. It is something that we can change, and need to change, because frankly, I’m sick to my stomach from hearing about it too.