“Rape Culture” becomes a way of life

How sex is the driving force of today’s society


photo via headstyle.se under Creative Commons License

Nail polish that changes color when in contact with a date rape drug.

Emma Sulkowicz started her senior year at Columbia University this fall. It’s already a major accomplishment for her to have come this far, in light of what was done unto her during the first day of her sophomore year.

She was raped, in her own dorm room, on her own bed.

And now, she is doing her performance art project on this experience, which, while forcing herself to relive the memory of what had happened, will bring more attention to the widespread anti-rape/sexual assault movement.

Sulkowicz has sworn to drag around the mattress she was defiled on — just as she was forced to drag around the emotional stress of her ordeal — until Columbia University expels her rapist.

Wait… he wasn’t expelled? Was nothing done about this? What happened that led Sulkowicz to have to haul her mattress all through her school campus just to prove a point?

Rape culture, when thoroughly googled, is defined by Wikipedia as “a culture in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender, sex, and sexuality,” and by Buzzfeed as “a culture in which sexual violence is considered the norm — in which people aren’t taught not to rape, but are taught not to be raped.”

What does this all mean?

Women are objectified to an extent wherein they are not human beings anymore, but rather as viewed as meaningless objects used for sexual gratification. They are defined by lewd means and are only seen as how men perceive them in venereal terms. They have a standing prominently below men in the hierarchy of life and are subjected to please their dominant, overpowering counterparts, no matter what he may want (ahem, sex, or power, or both) — even if it is nonconsensual.

We are putting the blame on women for “getting themselves raped,” by saying that victims were “asking for it” and should “learn from their mistakes.” What does this mean? We are instigating rape.

As Kurt Cobain once said in an interview before his suicide, “Rape is one of the most terrible crimes on earth and it happens every few minutes. The problem with groups who deal with rape is that they try to educate women about how to defend themselves. What really needs to be done is teaching men not to rape. Go to the source and start there.”

This directly correlates with the definition of rape culture above. The mere fact that the Chicago Tribune recently reported that this past spring four North Carolina State University students developed a nail polish to help women detect the presence of a date rape drug (Rohypnol, Xanax, GHB) in their drink already implies a lot about life today. Rape shouldn’t even exist, as it is a blatant violation of basic human rights.

Even in less imposing terms, it’s everywhere. In the workplace, a male can file a complaint against or even fire a woman for being “too attractive,” if he thinks that he may be unfaithful to his spouse because of his female co-worker’s appearance — last year, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in favor of a male dentist who fired a female assistant because she was apparently “too attractive” and jeopardized his marriage.

In the UC system, new plans were imposed by university officials in September pertaining to sexual misconduct — universities will manage cases better and provide support groups for victims… rather than CONDONING sexual assault altogether. This subtly insinuates that rape will still happen, because they are taking care of the victims instead of going after the perpetrators. Furthermore, sex is now more restricting on UC campuses — both parties must give verbal consent before proceeding; otherwise, actions may be misinterpreted and someone will get accused of rape.

Generally, rape isn’t about the sex or how sexy you’re dressed. Guys thinking about that is inevitable, believe it or not. Rape is more than that, it’s the attacker wanting to demonstrate an insane amount of power over his victim, to show how strong he is through an act of sexual violence.

So why is it still okay to teach girls to fear the worst and not say a word to boys about what they shouldn’t do?