rape: noun. [to abduct or seize] Sexual intercourse forced on a person without his or her permission. Rape may involve physical force, the threat of force, or it may be done against someone who is unable to give consent. Sexual intercourse (penetration, no matter how slight) may be vaginal, anal, or oral, and may involve the use of a body part or an object.
Rape Culture: An environment in which sexual violence is normalized, excused and perpetuated through misogynistic language, objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence in social constructs such as pop culture, myths and perceptions, media, and laws that trivialize it.
Current trends suggest 1 in 3 American women will be sexually assaulted at some time in their lives. While informative and most certainly alarming, statistics like this one reinforce what some experts call Rape Culture.
Even though most males don’t rape and most females are never victims, as girls and women, to some degree, we are all taught to live in fear of rape.
Some experts believe the Rape Culture is kept intact and functioning generation after generation by a series of erroneous beliefs that supports the degradation of women (and other individuals of either sex perceived as being "weak") and justifies the violation of their bodies.
These false beliefs, known as rape myths, are often-heard “explanations” that give cover to the assailant while blaming the victim.
“Anytime we shift the blame from the perpetrator onto the victim, that’s dangerous ground” said Sandra Henriquez, Executive Director California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA), a statewide organization working closely with 85 rape crisis centers and rape prevention programs.
When one woman suffers the degradation and terror of rape, it hurts us all. Rape serves as a means of placing limits on women. Rather than teaching males to respect females as equals and not to rape, society teaches females how to avoid rape by limiting their behavior.
If one day she is sexually abused, the rape myth tells us she wasn’t careful enough.