Rego: Students need to recognize and understand rape culture

Shay Rego

Editor’s Note: The views expressed in the following column are those of the writer only and do not necessarily represent the views of The Collegian or its editorial board.

In continuation of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we must think of all the ways our everyday interactions can have an effect on awareness and respectfulness towards others. We must discuss rape culture.

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Rape culture is extremely prevalent on college campuses. Being in college, many of us are naive, hypersexual and easily influenced by our peers. It’s important to recognize and understand rape culture now to avoid following it into adulthood. 

There are many various acts that can contribute to rape culture, and we may not fully be aware of it. Many people do not believe rape culture exists, so it’s important to bring its reality to light and educate others on these toxic behaviors.

Rape culture is defined by Marshall University as an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence is normalized and excused in the media and pop culture. Rape culture could be things like defining womanhood as submissive or pressuring your friends to get laid.

One example of perpetuated rape culture is rape jokes. A lot of people in society tell rape jokes for a laugh at someone else’s expense. People seem to take the word rape too lightly.

According to a survey conducted by OnePoll on people between the ages of 18 and 24, 23% of them had heard a rape joke and 41% admitted that they had made a rape joke.

From personal experience, I can say that I have overheard conversations about blatant rape, none of which were conducive but merely triggering. Imagine a scene of men sitting at a table in the Lory Student Center, loudly talking, having a conversation in public that goes something like, “Have you guys ever heard of Albert Fish? Yeah dude, he was a serial rapist, hahahaha, seriously! Raped kids from every state! Hahaha right dude how messed up.”

Light-hearted statements about rape are incredibly insensitive. Joking about rape or even mentioning rape, in general, could potentially trigger someone into a state of discomfort, panic or worse. It can even make victims feel as if their experience is all some big joke.

Everyone’s situational awareness needs to be adjusted because there are so many more victims and survivors than most people realize. About 1 in every 6 women and 1 in every 33 men are victims of sexual assault. You never know who around you could be affected by the things you say or do. 

Rape culture is defined as an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence is normalized and excused in the media and pop culture, according to MArshall University

Another huge proponent in rape culture is victim blaming. Some people in society believe that it the individual’s job to “be careful to not get raped,” rather than teaching people to not rape. One hundred percent of rapes are caused by rapists.

Of course a sign saying “don’t rape” isn’t going to stop rapists. However, taking all the responsibility off of the individual to not get raped helps to equalize the voices. A person shouldn’t have to ever feel like what happened to them was their fault because society told them not to wear a skirt or not to drink excessively.

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More examples of rape culture include making excuses. Any excuse to justify the action of sexual assault contributes to rape culture by trying to say that it is not an act of violence. People try to justify rape by saying things like, “Well, we are married” or “Dude, she was all over me before she passed out.”

Making excuses does not change the situation. Anything that is not a firm “yes” is a firm “no.” Consent is extremely important.

Rape culture is a danger to our society. Believing in rape culture leads to things like victim blaming, negative treatment towards victims, inflating false rape reports and toxic masculinity. Please, be supportive and sensitive of those around. Do not add to rape culture. Every little action could help end suffering.

Shay Rego can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter at @shay_rego.