No: a negative used to express dissent, denial, refusal, rejection, and/or disapproval. Ne, Nee, Nej, Non, Nein, No. Nothing you can say or do can possibly change the meaning of such a universal word. No does not mean Perhaps. No does not mean Maybe. No means No.
Certain circumstances of today’s society have created blurred lines between the words “yes” and “no.” This so-called gray area has played heavily into the interpretation of our society as a Rape Culture. Rape is defined as sexual contact or penetration achieved without consent, and with use of physical force, coercion, deception, threat, and/or when the victim is: mentally incapacitated or impaired, physically impaired (due to alcohol or drug consumption,) asleep, or, unconscious. Widespread ignorance of this definition has repeatedly led to the justification of such horrible events, for the perpetrator was simply receiving “mixed signals” or did not know his actions could possibly be defined as sexual assault. However, no matter the case—no matter the excuse—rape is not justifiable.
Because of this justification of rape, victims—often women— are forced to accept the inevitability of being raped in this world, and are taught from the beginnings of their lives how to avoid such an occurrence. The odds of a woman being attacked by a shark are one in over eleven million, while the odds of a woman being raped are one in six (Source D ). And yet, the fear of sharks is significantly more commonplace and accepted than is the fear of men as potential sexual predators.
We live in a world where a woman is defined by what she wears. If she is wearing a tight skirt and a crop-top, her name is Slut. If she is wearing a turtleneck sweater, a fully zipped jacket, or perhaps, a burqa, her name is Prude or Frigid. But society gets to outline every aspect of these definitions, from the get-go. High schools, middle schools, even elementary schools, discourage female students from wearing certain types of “revealing” clothing, for the slightest bit of thigh/chest skin showing might “distract” the male student population. Mankind is trained, from a very young age, to sexualize the female body, and it needs to stop.
We live in a world that teaches girls how to eat, sleep, breathe, dress, and act, in order to avoid being sexually assaulted, instead of teaching boys not to rape. We spend lifetimes telling our sisters and daughters, our female students, our female coworkers, our women, how to survive in this world. “Stop, don’t touch me there! This is my ‘private square’. R-A-P-E, keep your hands away from me!” This is, believe it or not, a popular children’s song. But where are the songs instructing children on how to not sexually assault someone? It should be common sense, right? Well, if it’s such an unambiguous concept—how wrong rape is—then how is it that every two minutes, another American is sexually assaulted?
We live in a world where women carry rape whistles and pepper spray on their key-chains; a world where women cannot walk down their own street at night without making sure that they do not look “too vulnerable;” a world where you can find stories of forced sexual interaction just as easily on a pornographic website as you can in the crime section of the newspaper.
We live in a world plagued by Rape Culture.
A rape culture is a society in which misogynistic language, objectification of women, and glamorization of sexual violence thrive. Rape Culture is allowing teenage boys to wear “B***h, go make me a sandwich” shirts to school, whilst forbidding girls to wear shorts that stretch down a few inches shy of their knees. Rape culture is telling women to be careful about what you do, where you do it, with whom you do it, what you wear, how you wear it, how you carry yourself, where you walk, when you walk there, what you drink, how much of it you drink, whether or not you make eye contact, if you’re alone, if you’re not, if it’s dark, if the area is unfamiliar, what kind of shoes you’re wearing in case you have to run, how many people you sleep with, what kind of people you sleep with, to whom you give your information, to get a roommate, to take self-defense, to always be alert always pay attention always watch your back always be aware of your surroundings and never let your guard down for a second lest you be raped and if you are and didn’t follow all of the rules it’s your fault. (Source B).
Rape culture is dismissing the issue at hand by stating that: “boys will be boys!” Rape Culture is when mainstream songs have lyrics that mirror the words of actual rapists, and yet are still on the Top Charts in iTunes. (Source A). Rape culture is being afraid of walking down your own street at night. Rape culture is blaming the victim, for she was “intoxicated” and was surely “asking for it.”
The environments that are quite easily the most affected by Rape Culture are colleges and universities. Approximately one in five college women are sexually assaulted before they graduate, and for some schools such as University of Virginia—UVA for short—these numbers have increased to a remarkable one in three. Let’s take UVA, with an average graduating class of around twenty thousand students. Now let’s say that half of these students are female. That means that over three thousand of these young girls will likely be sexually assaulted in their four years at this school. And only eight percent of these rapes will likely be reported and taken into further consideration. In fact, in the past few years at UVA, over one hundred and eighty students have been expelled for cheating on exams, but not one student has been expelled for sexual assault, though there is concrete evidence revealing the vast amounts of rape that have been taking place there (Source D). Schools like the University of Virginia have been flying under the radar for too long. But why, might you ask, are such a small percentage of these crimes actually reported? It all stems back to the stigmatization of rape in our society. We speak volumes of precautionary tactics on how to avoid sexual assault, but when someone slips up—when someone is raped—we step back a few feet, with our hands up, entirely speechless and bewildered. Because what can we tell these women in order to turn back time and delete such an occurrence? So instead of encouraging victims to speak up—to speak out—we coerce them into joining us in our confused silence. But when nothing is said, nothing is done. Our relentless precautions for rape are rendered meaningless the instant we turn our backs to victims. For, when you shatter an arm or a leg, numerous loved ones immediately flock to sign your cast or kiss your scars, but how many people are there to hold your hand after you have been raped? Is sexual assault not equally, perhaps even more, painful?
That is perhaps the worst part about Rape Culture: our desensitization of the matter at hand. People try to be blind to the injustices of the world, and all they see, all they hear, and all they think, is: “Another article about rape,” “Another sexual assault PSA,” “Another rape poem.” And unfortunately, nobody wants to deal with it anymore. But the stories and the poems and the articles and the television broadcasts and all of the other media about rape are going to persist; because as long as there is material—as long as there is rape—there will be someone wanting to talk about it. (Source C).
We must destroy the notion that men should not rape because these women are their sisters and their daughters and their wives and their friends. Instead, tell them that they should not rape because these women are humans. Rape has been assaulting society for millennia. The risk of rape will never truly diminish; the numbers will always be there. But that doesn’t mean we should not try to lower them. We must not encourage unsolicited “cat-calls” or advertisements that glorify sexual abuse. We must educate people all about the horrors and consequences of rape, because merely teaching that “rape is bad” is not working. We must destroy Rape Culture. We must tell people that No means No, and in turn, people must listen.
Maxwell, Zerlina. Rape Culture Is Real. Time, 27 Mar. 2014. Web. 10 Dec. 2014. <http://time.com/40110/rape-culture-is-real/>
“What Is Rape Culture?” BuzzFeed. 5 Feb. 2014. Web. 10 Dec. 2014. <http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/what-is-rape-culture>
“”Rape Poem To End All Rape Poems” by Rutgers University.” YouTube. YouTube, 20 Mar. 2014. Web. 10 Dec. 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Wu7Ax78hXon>
Reilly, Michael. “Shark Attacks: What Are the Odds? : DNews.” DNews. 10 Aug. 2010. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.