#RapeCulture : The Issue of “Who’s to Blame” in 2014

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I usually wouldn’t write about something as controversial as rape or domestic violence, especially on a platform such as this, but I’ve experienced one too many instances in the past few weeks and I no longer wish to be quiet with my opinions. If you are easily offended or disturbed by topics of such gruesome nature, I encourage you to cease further reading of this particular article and venture into other, easier to stomach, topics on our site.

You all know I live in Gainesville, Florida and just graduated from UF back in May. I’m here for another year or two in my current job and have enjoyed my time revisiting campus over the past few months and reminiscing over the past three years and how far my group of friends has come. Over the past three weeks, there have been four (that I know of) brutal attacks and attempted rape accounts by an unknown man in the Gainesville area. Thankfully, all of the women were safe in the end, but they did withstand their fair share of terror and confusion as to why this had to happen to them. UFPD tightened up security around campus and there are even little volunteer groups of individuals that escort female students around campus during the later hours of the night. I believe this is helping, because there has yet to be a new reported attempt in the past week or so, but experiencing these issues so close to home really got me thinking and when I think, I write, so that you all may think along with me.

What makes a man (or woman) decide that they are more of an importance in the world than another that they could do something so vulgar and intrusive? What goes through someone’s head whenever they are climbing on top of another human being forcing themselves upon them? Is it fear? Is it power? Is it remorse?

We live in a time where women have been conditioned to clutch their purse, phone a friend and/or don’t even walk outside by yourself if it’s not light out. What is that? Why are women in constant fear for their lives instead of living them to the fullest of their capabilities?

The issue at hand, here, doesn’t seem to be the reality and devastating occurrence of rape, but instead, who is to blame? Is it the young woman who indulges in heinous amounts of drugs and alcohol at a party? Or is it the man who continues to provide her with them even after she’s already so far gone? Is it the elderly woman in the nursing home who hasn’t been visited by her family in 5 years? Or it is the nurse practitioner who takes advantage of her loneliness? Is it the man who is having a hard time in school and/or work who keeps telling his husband that he’s “not interested in sex tonight?” Or is it the husband who forces his partner to fornicate against his will?

Sara Erdmann once said “I will never understand why it is more shameful to be raped than to be a rapist.”

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Since I am a journalist, I have been trained to look at both sides. In this certain case, it is very difficult for me to be unbiased, because this topic brings out so much emotion and opinion, but let’s attempt to look at both sides of the argument.

The Victim: A 19 year old college sophomore is going to another one of those crazy parties that she constantly warns herself not to attend. The party favors are numerous. There are lines and bumps on the table in front of her, there are four oddly dressed men pouring shots of god-knows-what for any girl that walks through the door and there are copious amounts of marijuana lining the counter tops. She indulges. She knows she shouldn’t, but she’s in college and this is what you do, right? She’s in way over her head and she can feel the effect it is having on her. She sits down and takes a breather and notices a tall, dark and handsome guy looking at her from across the room. Her hazed mind is telling her she wants to get laid tonight and preferably by him. She flutters those long, fake eyelashes and he approaches her. She takes him to one of the bedrooms upstairs. She takes her shirt off, throws him on the bed and climbs on top. They begin hooking up and she whispers in his ear, “do you have a condom?” It’s been decided, the step has been taken, they’re about to fuck. She unzips his pants and begins doing the same thing she’s done to a hundred other guys and he’s loving it. When he can’t take it any longer, he turns her around and opens the wrapper. She starts to get dizzy. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea? Maybe she shouldn’t have teased him like she did because now she’s having second thoughts. What’s this guy’s name, anyways? She apologizes and politely tries to excuse herself saying she feels ill from the drugs. Before she makes it to the door, he is behind her and you know the rest.

Who’s to blame for what just happened? You might jump to conclusions and say the male, obviously, but take a second to look at the intense amounts of teasing she used and how she explicated her desires to sleep with him. Was it really his fault for assuming she was just playing hard to get and/or confused because of the substance abuse?

The Culprit: A 23 year old college drop out is hanging out with some of his old fraternity brothers at a party and notices a hot college girl stumbling around a little and participating in every type of debauchery she can get her hands on. Easy target. He sweet talks her into thinking she’s beautiful and sexy and talks about how lucky he is to have her attention for the night. A few drinks later, he coerces her into heading upstairs, but not before he pops a GHB in her cup. She shows hesitation and tries to play it off in a cute and flirty kind of way. “My friends are going to wonder where I ran off to,” “Why don’t we go back downstairs and hit a few more lines together?” She stops mid-sentence and begins to feel as if she has lost control of her body and senses. She wakes up the next morning in only a sheet and a note that reads “thanks for last night.”

Do I really need to ask who you think is to blame in the aforementioned scenario..

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So, who really is to blame? I stumbled upon this heart-wrenching video this morning and didn’t really know the answer to this question. I honestly believe the reason Rape Culture exists is because of a lack of respect being passed down to both men and women.

Women (not a generalization of all females) do not have enough respect and value for themselves because of ads such as this Dolce and Gabbana advertisement for what seems to be a gang bang and this Keep Australia Beautiful ad that encourages women to be skinnier. And they walk around in clothes that seem as if they’re asking for someone to lay them down and show them a good time. And men (not a generalization of all males) do not have enough respect for women because of ads like Reebok’s Cheat on Your Girlfriend, Not Your WorkOut campaign.

I personally believe if every one of you who reads this and other Stop Rape Culture articles would educate your children, even if unborn, on the sanctity of consent, the value of life and the idea of a self-worth that any individual should have the ability to experience, rape culture would no longer exist.

Women, find value in yourselves and realize that you’re worth the wait, however long that wait may be, and let your appearance exude this ideal. Parents, educate your sons and daughters on the importance of treating another individual as they would want to be treated and accepting/respecting another person’s values and boundaries. Men, never just assume she wants it like Robin Thicke tells you to in Blurred Lines, but instead, pick up on her cues and respect her wishes even if they’re not compatible with yours.

You can be the end to a culture that puts more importance on liposuction than love. Will you allow yourself to take on the responsibility and be the voice for those who are no longer able to speak?

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