Rape Culture, Victims and Its Place in Society


It is extremely sad to say that ever since recorded history has been around, rape has been found as well. Rape culture, victims and its place in society has shifted from age to age but somehow it has always found a way in. since even the days of the Bible there have been documented cases of rape, ancient Rome and other cultures are just as prominent in this area. As humanity progressed towards more a “sophisticated” culture, rape has remained ever popular.

To begin with, one must remove the stereotype in which rape is committed solely by men over women. Though less documented, women raping men, men raping men and women raping women are just as much part of the problem as ever. Many people think lack of documentation points to a lack of evidence but that is not so. The reason for low documentation of rape cases is heartbreaking: rape victims are absolutely terrified to come forward. For some it may take weeks, months or even years if it all to be able to admit their fate. The thought of facing their violator, taking a public platform and in a sense re-living their hurt is enough to shatter many people.

In recent years the efforts to bring to light rape culture, its victims and place in society has included countless organizations and even television shows such as Law & Order SVU. These shows play an integral part of raising the popular consciousness regarding rape. Rape is currently defined as: “The unlawful compelling of a person through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.” To many people it sounds like something that happens in a darkened alley after a chase. But that is not so! Rape can and does occur just as frequently in the victim’s own home or car; in school or at work. Drunk sex has also begun to take place in the rape category since the victim is powerless to object to the attack. Sexual harassment and sexual assault are closely related and also rob the victim of their self-esteem and sense of self.

In a recent case, Parker Gilbert a student at Dartmouth, was acquitted of 6 accounts of rape leveled by a fellow student. The charge included anal, vaginal and oral rape performed on the 19-year-old student as she slept in her own on-campus room. Now, it is true that Gilbert was acquitted. Many people say this means he is innocent by law and that ends the discussion. However, when 6 charges of rape are brought in against one person, innocence seems somehow difficult to believe. Students of Dartmouth College as well as people all across the nation took to Twitter and Facebook in expressing their frustration and rage over the verdict. Others took to the social media sites to identify with the victim and lend their love and support.

Only 4 days ago a different kind of rape has been brought to light. Andrew Bailey, a writer and comedian in British Columbia, posted a video on his YouTube page labeled: “Why rape is sincerely hilarious” (video below.) The opening statement begins: “My name is Wil, and I sincerely think rape is hilarious- when it happens to dudes!” Before writing off the video, it should be noted that in it Bailey confesses to his own experience with sexual harassment. When he was 13, Bailey was sexually molested and abused by his 8th grade teacher. In the video he shares the feedback he received from his own friends and classmates when he attempted to reach out about the situation. Many of his male acquaintances gave him high-fives and congratulated him on having “an older, hot woman.” When he expressed the feelings that this was not his view on the issue, he receive derogatory remarks from those same “friends”. They chastised him and called him names. The video is only 2 minutes long but speaks volumes about his experience and the mistaken view many people have about male rape victims.

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While some film, such as Law & Order and NCIS, even House of Cards, touch on the subject of rape and bring its widespread phenomena to light, there are other pieces which take away from the gravity of the situation. As mentioned in Bailey’s video, “That’s my boy”, a film by Adam Sandler, “Wedding Crashes” and other numerous films include rape scenes which somehow merit a reaction other than rage: humor. In that context, male rape seems amusing and therefore is detrimental to the efforts of individuals and organizations to stop this from happening.

From time immemorial to today, how has rape culture, victims and its place in society changed? Some rejoice in the efforts which have taken place over the past few decades to alleviate and eradicate the crime. Others demand harsher reforms for punishment and care for victims. Volumes could and have been written on this subject. And while this article focuses pointedly at American culture, rape and its consequences occur on every continent and in every country. Countries such as India have only recently joined in the global efforts to raise awareness and punish their criminals. With hope, the global communities will merge together to educate its populace about this serious offense and finally put a stop to this heinous crime.

Opinion by Atar Kishon