Normalizing the Acceptance of Rape

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Total Sorority Move (TSM), a site dedicated to sorority girls, published an article recently called Stop Crying Rape. In the article, the author, an ex sorority girl, shames survivors of sexual assault for reporting their assault:

Faced with our poor decisions of the night before, we had no excuse but to take them all back. After all, that’s what all of the flyers and the seminars and the PSAs said. That’s what our professors told us, as did the nurses at Student Health. That’s what the protestors wearing the skimpy outfits and holding the glittery posters said. “It’s not your fault,” they all told us. Yes, you were drunk. And yes, you flirted with him. And yes, you initiated the first makeout…and the second one. Yes, you whispered, “Let’s get out of here.” But you felt guilty this morning. And so you take it all back. No matter that he was drunk, too, and you were a willing participant — you take it back. And in the game of your word against his, you will always win.

Articles like this one and Urban Romance’s “Don’t Be a Slut for Halloween” promote the idea that a man can take advantage of a woman and not respect their boundaries. While they may be written to draw in readers and create controversy, many readers may also believe that this concept of slut shaming is acceptable. It also promotes victim blaming. These pieces and the like contribute to the idea that a person’s wardrobe or “vibes” can stand in place of consent in lieu of the word “yes”.

TSM has a large female audience and many of them have experienced sexual assault at some point of their lives. Telling these women that their experiences are invalid because they were intoxicated at the time that it occurred allows men to think that their behavior is acceptable. Female readers who commented on the article shared their experiences of sexual assault and received responses that perpetuated this idea that the victim should be shamed for what happened to them instead of receiving the justice they deserve.

One of the replies to a comment said,

If a woman doesn’t want a man hitting on her, then she has every right to not drink, not dress provocative, and certainly not flirt. Flirting and dressing like a slut gives the impression to a man that you want to hook up. It isn’t culture, it’s biology, something feminists can’t grasp. If a woman then proceeds to hookup with said man and then get dumped immediately after, she has every fucking right to, even if said man is a sleazy asshole. But guess what? It’s not anyone’s fault but hers because she made that choice.

It does not matter if a woman had flirted with a guy or made out with him before the assault, nor does it matter what she was wearing. Men should not be given the okay to rape women simply because they are drunk. This article makes the experiences of women who have been sexually assaulted feel invalidated.

As a woman who has experienced sexual assault while under the influence of alcohol, I can honestly say it was not a situation that I simply regretted in the morning. I said no. I passed out. I was clearly not asking for it.  I did not deserve what happened to me and neither do any of the women who have experienced sexual assault. While it was my choice to make out with my attacker before being assaulted, it was not my choice to be raped. Nobody chooses to be raped.

Instead of teaching women what not to do to attract rapists, why not teach men not to rape? Everyone should be able to feel safe with someone who they flirt, kiss, or have sex without the fear of being assaulted and treated like their experience is invalid. It is important to stop telling women that it’s their fault and start teaching men to respect boundaries.

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7 thoughts on “Normalizing the Acceptance of Rape

  1. It infuriates me that this is even a topic let alone a debate. Why are we still talking about this? Why can’t people just acknowledge that rape is WRONG and slut shaming is WRONG and victim blaming is fucking WRONG. It drive me batshit crazy to know that there are people in this world who believe that a woman is to blame for a CRIME she did not commit. If someone breaks into your house, steals your tv, the police aren’t going to blame you for not having an up-to-date alarm system or leaving your personal belonging in plain sight. They’re going to blame the criminal for breaking into your space and stealing what is yours. As is with your body. If someone rapes you, violates your body, they are a criminal and they are wrong regardless of your attitude towards them before the attack. Thank you for posting this as it needs to be more commonly discussed. I just wish we didn’t have to debate this topic anymore but clearly we’re far from where we need to be.

    ~s.a.

  2. I don’t think people understand sexual assault is not about sexual attraction. It’s about power. If a woman dresses in attractive clothing it does not mean every man will be so attracted to her that they just wont be able to control themselves. Rapists prey on intoxicated people because they’re an easy target. It’s easy to take control of them. The lines between sex and rape are so clear, but no one acknowledges them.

    • I’d have to disagree. While there are many rapists who prey on victims solely because of power, there are rapists who rape because they want sex, regardless of consent. It is often a mix of power and sexual desire. It starts with a person’s sexual desire that, when denied, uses force to fulfill. In many cases, it has everything to do with both.

      Also, there are many people who don’t know that they have raped. It is not due to a hunger for power; it is due to a fuzzy understanding of consent and lack of proper consent education. My rapist did not know he was raping me. I didn’t know the rules of consent either. Now, I know that consent must be verbal, ongoing, sober, retractable, and enthusiastic. Because I didn’t verbally say “No”, he assumed it was consensual. When I realized what had happened, I told him. He was devastated that he had done such a thing. The lack of education around consent, rather than a use of power, leads to many rapes. The lines between power and desire are not as clearly defined and separate as you believe them to be.

      • I guess the difference I meant, which was not very articulate on my part, is that in instances of sexual assault there is no respect of the other person going on. This is evident. But, I think your example provides me with a perfect chance to explain myself. Even if you didn’t say no, there had to have been some breezing over of your desires, whether he wasn’t picking up on your body language or what. That’s not sexual attraction in my mind, because it’s dehumanizing. I wish there was a better word to use instead of “power.” What I meant is there is an elevating of their desires and a stifling of the victims.
        I think many times we take things like cat calling, which is a precursor to sexual abuse, to mean that person is attracted to the other person. No, this is objectification. It’s shutting up the other person.
        We’re continually not seeing the difference in our culture. I think this is the main problem.
        Let me know if you agree more now that I clarified.

  3. This gives me a headache. I cannot wrap my head around why people seem to think that women “cry rape” because they “regret the night before”. I have NEVER seen this instance in my life, only when people want to invalidate rape victims’ experiences. It’s so messed up. of COURSE no one should call someone a rapist just because they regret the night. but that doesn’t mean that that happens even REMOTELY often enough to warrant a huge blog post and discussion about it. Because the amount who do that pale so greatly to the amount of people who DO get legitimately raped and are told it wasn’t rape because they had kissed the guy and showed off her cleavage. Ugh.

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