It is estimated that in the United States that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will experience some form of sexual violence in their lives. Even more disturbing is that current rape culture in most of these cases will lead to the blaming of the victim for what transpired.
A term originally used in the 1970s, ‘rape culture’ refers to the blaming of victims of sexual assault as well as the normalizing of sexual violence. While it was originally used by feminists at the time to focus specifically on male sexual violence, as the existence of male rape victims has come to light. This extends beyond more than just outright blaming a victim while addressing a specific case. It includes the way in which the laws relating to sexual violence are worded, jokes that are prevalent on television, and the casual way that rape is referred to and even praised in many rap and R&B songs.
This can be incredibly difficult to navigate, especially in professional settings. While sexual harassment can occur in any workplace, there are some industries where it is much more prevalent, even normalized. One example is the music industry.
“Part of the issue is that the music industry has for well over a century been in the business of exploiting musicians,” explained Alan Williams, associate professor, and coordinator of the music business program at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. “In the world of publishing, that term is used explicitly – ‘exploiting’ a copyright. Thus, musicians of any gender start from a place of disempowerment.”
The only way that we can change this view of rape culture is to change the conversation. We need to shift the way that we view situations of sexual harassment and violence, creating an environment in which victims will feel not only safe to speak up and share their story, but empowered to do so. This starts by acknowledging the real cause of rape.
The following pie chart has been making its way around social media spreading an important message. Rape isn’t caused by women wearing revealing or ‘slutty’ clothing, nor is it the result of drinking too much and therefore putting yourself in a compromised state. At the end of the day, the only actual cause of rape is rapists.
Why is this important to acknowledge? In sharing this information, you’re not suggesting that we shouldn’t take steps to keep ourselves safe, nor are you insinuating that you are hopeless in any situation. There are many precautions and preventative measures that you can put into place to go the extra mile. However, at the root of everything, the only way we can ever fully eliminate rape from our society is to teach children as they grow up ‘not to rape’. Sounds simple right?
This is a little more complex than many of us realize, as rape culture and the normalizing of sexual harassment is so ingrained in our society. Phrases like ‘boys will be boys’ justify behavior at a young age that can someday evolve into a much bigger problem. It is only by addressing these shortcomings in our society that we will be able to turn things around.