What is Rape Culture?

“We exist in a ‘rape culture,’” explains writer Moira Byrne Garton (Garton). According to the definition provided in Transforming a Rape Culture, this type of society follows “‘a complex of beliefs that encourages male sexual aggression and supports violence  against women’” (Garton).

It is also a growing trend in modern society to make sexually derogatory and explicit jokes toward females. Yes, comedy is based on making light of tragic situations, but rape jokes and puns that trivialize sexual assault only further demonstrate our inability to deal with these complex topics. In the United States alone, 17.7 million mothers, daughters, grandmothers, and granddaughters have experienced attempted or completed rape (“Who are the Victims?”). Yet when people make light of such terrible situations, these females are made to feel insignificant.

These issues must be brought to the forefronts of our minds because when the violation of half the world’s population becomes the subject of laughter and of indifference, we know there is a definite need for change. There is not a way to be neutral in these situations. We either help incite a change, or we actively tolerate the current state of affairs, and essentially encourage the perpetrators to continue their threatening behaviors. The “pervasion [of rape culture] in our society” is hard to deny, and “there is hope for cultural transformation” (Garton). I have learned that if people do not speak up, things will not change. Female bodies are not jokes, and any violation – whether literal or metaphorical – needs to be addressed. I am involved in this issue because I am a woman and I am aware of the frequency of sexual assault and of the prevalence of rape on college and university campuses.

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