We said we’d follow up on the last released episode regarding R. Kelly called “Protecting Predators?” so here we are to provide more detailed/educational based content to help you understand what rape culture is and it’s impact. Rape culture is a HUGE concept and we cannot cover every fine detail so we’ve simplified it for you into a few chunks – Victim blaming, slut shaming, and the impact of sexism and gender expectations.
Please listen with the intent to learn. We cannot cover every fine detail. Generalizations may lie ahead , if we mean “all” we’ll say “all”. Sexual assault/violations/misconduct etc knows no gender, sexuality, race, religion, age or class therefore this content is relevant to the black community and beyond. The purpose is to help you understand rape culture from a social and psychological standpoint so you can stop contributing to it and be more empathetic towards victims rather than writing them off as “crazy” or “liars” instantly.
Rape culture is a HUGE topic and we cannot cover it all. We’ll break rape culture down into a few chunks:
Victim Blaming, Slut Shaming, and the impact of sexism and gender expectation.
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What is Rape Culture?
When you hear the term, you might first think of it as a society that is accepting of rape, where it is promoted, encouraged, etc. That’s not exactly right.
Kiki’s Definition (from Wikipedia) was – “… a sociological concept for a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality”. See? It’s about attitudes. Not blatant acceptance.
These attitudes/ beliefs are common in the black community and beyond and are a product of rape culture:
- We tend to believe that black women are so “strong” they’d always fight back or be vocal.
- That men who are assaulted must be gay or weak to “allow” that to happen.
- We associate the symptoms of trauma with being crazy, and being crazy is for white people.
- We feel that the way we raise our kids eliminates the possibility that someone could assault them and get away with it.
- We believe in “keeping our business in the house.”
- the “No snitching” phenomenon conditions us to keep silent about the sexual assaults/violations we know of.
- We have an invincibility complex.
- Women always want men’s attention.
- Men must be aggressive. Being aggressive is always sexy.
- We joke about rape.
- We believe we can “tell” who’s a rapist.
- We view rape narrowly. We. Typically see it as as weapon involved sexual violence in a dark ally at night by a stranger.
- We do not have discussions about boundaries
- we believe rapist are only mentally ill or deviant people. This makes of hard to grasp the FACT that even a family member or popular beloved celebrity with no criminal history can be a rapist.
A baby of rape culture. Victim blaming is usually subtle as well. It’s not blatantly saying to a victim that it’s their fault they’ve been victimized. It’s usually finding a way to relate the victim’s action (or lack of) to their assault rather than holding the actual assaulter accountable.
- What were they wearing?
- Were they drinking?/ They shouldn’t have been drinking.
- “Asking” for it.
- They should’ve/ could’ve fought.
- If it were me, I would’ve ______.
- Weren’t they flirting?
- They weren’t raised right.
- Why didn’t they scream?
- They shouldn’t have been in that part of town.
- They shouldn’t have been out so late.
- Shouldn’t have been alone.
- Shouldn’t have been so trusting.
- Didn’t they notice the signs?
- Should have been more alert.
- She’s just tying to cover up being a slut (more on this later.)
They could’ve seen that coming.
- The parents should have been there.
Notice, NONE of these are holding the actual predator accountable.
There’s actually a science behind victim blaming.
Do some web browsing on what’s known as the “just word hypothesis”. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Believing that the world is “just”. When unjust things happen, we feel a need to rationalize it through finding out what the victim did to cause their own victimization. We take comfort in believing that if we are careful and do everything “right” , we can prevent bad things from happening to us. As humans, we take comfort in the illusion of control.
Ignorance helps breed victim blaming.
People are often confused when they hear about a victim not fighting back, keeping it to themselves, not screaming, etc. Much of this stems from victim blaming. Victims are afraid to speak out due to fear of being judged and blamed. Trauma also plays a key role here. Most of us do not understand how trauma works and expect victims to behave rationally following an assault.
In case you cannot play the video, the moral of the story is this – During a traumatic event, you either fight, fight , or freeze. you do NOT get to choose which it is. When your brain is in survival mode, logic goes out the door and “primitive” responses take over. The part of your brain that is responsible for holding memories can switch “off”. After the trauma, PTSD is likely. Not all people will react to trauma the same. some will be numb and may seem “fine” to you.
Victim blaming is a problem.
- It makes victims reluctant to come forward thus keeping more rapists and other sexual violators on the loose.
- Victim blaming tactics are used by lawyers that defend sexual predators to discredit the victim and / or paint them as a slut, liar, drug addict etc.
- Victim blaming sends a message that says “It’s OK to do it because they’re ‘asking for it’ in the eyes of an assaulter who needs to feel their actions are justified. Yes, victim blaming provides violators with a sense of security.
Shaming a person for engaging in sex outside of the was society accepts. (the persons involvement in these activities can be real or perceived. ) This can be group sex, premarital sex, frequency of sex, type of sex such as oral and anal, sex with no strings attached, number of partners etc. Basically, anything that isn’t marital sex with a husband. (This is a common experience for women)
Similarly to victim blaming, slut shaming cam be subtle or direct and it discredits a victim. Slut shaming also trivialize sexual assault to be something that only happens to “hoes”.
- She’s fucks everybody anyway.
- She’s just lying to cover up being a hoe.
- She shouldn’t have been loose.
- She probably liked it.
- She shouldn’t dress like a slut. She was asking for it.
It’s a very specific kind of victim blaming with sexist undertones and “logic” that generally is not applied to men.
Slut shaming isn’t only a victim blaming tactic but also a tactic to discredit and dehumanize a victim making it difficult to empathize with them. This happens often in courtrooms.
The fear of judgment makes victims reluctant to come forward. This is especially true for those of a religious background. Unfortunately, due to slut shaming, many people will actually lie about their sexual encounters and call it rape in order to avoid being judged. This does not excuse the dishonesty but it goes to show you how influential social judgment is and what people are willing to do to avoid it. Rape culture truly does effect everyone.
Sexism / Entitlement / Gender Expectations
When it comes to sexism, there’s this idea that women are always looking for the attention of men.
Now, when we say “sexism” We don’t mean hatred/inferiority of women, but instead we are referring to how women are viewed and the presumptions made about women as well as some of the double standards that are are a part rape culture. Specifically , gender expectations and “rules”.
Sense of Entitlement
Some people feel entitled to sex. Many of whom aren’t even aware of their sense of entitlement. Entitlement knows no gender therefore anybody can be a D-bag when it comes to this.. Societally speaking, we often see this displayed in men feeling entitled to women’s bodies… (Duh, not all men.)
There’s are some of common reasons many men (not all) feel they are owed sex. This attitude fuels a lot of sexual assault and is also the justifications for it. This is especially true for assaults that occur in relationships.(Look out for Video – “Rape is a Strong Word” on this) Yes, sex is considered to be important by couples in most serious relationships and it’s important to consider your significant other’s desires however, nobody in the relationship is obligated to have sex . Even in marriage, your body is yours and nobody has a right to it without your permission . Men with a sense of entitlement feel its their partner’s duty to always be sexually available and to be open to any kind of sex .
There’s always excuses/ justifications that are red flags a person feels entitled:
- But I got dinner/drinks for her.
- I was nice to her.
- It’s been “X” amount of months, years, weeks.
- We’re in a relationship.
- But we made out. (or any other activity.)
- But we’ve had sex before.
- She was flirting with me. (Real or perceived flirting.
Gender expectations play a role too.
Because of gender expectations / “rules” of society entitlement, it’s common for men to assume that a woman is dressing /wearing makeup for a his attention and will be flattered if a he compliments her, touches her, or displays desire. A good example of this is cat-calling. Some men make the assumption that all women enjoy it. This why “no” translates to “try harder” in the minds of some men. They assume women are playing a game and want to be pursued. Now, we want to point out that some women are actually playing a game and want to be pursued but to assume all women have that same mindset is ignorant. On the flip-side of these gender “rules”, you’ll see men’s actions be brushed off as “men just being men” or “he couldn’t help himself”.
Sexism screws everyone over. Including men who are assaulted.
You should’ve liked it…. or you’re just gay…
Male victims are called either weak, gay, or both depending on the gender that assaulted them. We can credit that to toxic masculinity. Men are viewed as strong so when a man is sexually violated, there must be “something wrong” with him according to our society.
Everyone must respect boundaries. Women can have an issue doing this too. Many of us assume men are always willing to have sex with us and that he “must be gay” if he’s not accepting of sexual advances. Some women are guilty of engaging in anal activity during sex without consent first. Communication is key! Know what is and isn’t okay. Even with rape culture existing, society can express that men should respect women’s sexual boundaries… But , do we consider the other way around?