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A Short Dress is Not Invitation
A short dress. A mini skirt. A tight top. These are causes of rape, or so the assualtant claims. The victim walks down a dingy alleyway. She is frightened that sudden calamity may occur because someone may be lurking in the shadows. Her automatic response is to grip her keys in her fist, something she was taught from a young age.
When she testimonies at court, all she receives are disappointed looks. It was your fault, they say. How can he help himself? Protect yourself next time.
She attempts to pursue a new life, but all others see is her stained past, while the perpetrator soon becomes CEO of a massive company. No one believes her, yet her scars are evident. She believes that her life, and her experiences were invalid. She is nothing, and nor will she ever be.
The woman closes her eyes and jumps, because she thinks that no life is better than a life full of hate.
50% of females who have commited suicide above the age of 20 have some history of sexual assualt (National Library of Medicine). Tiana, a victim of sexual assault describes how she regained control of her life in the aftermath. She had support of friends and family as she decided to press charges against the perpetrator. She took a forensic exam and described it all like a “chaotic art piece.” She also explains how terribly messed up the whole process was, including breaking down in court after seeing the man who assaulted her. Eventually, the case ended up in favor of the guilty man, and although Tiana deserved justice, she rebuilt her life through her passions of photography, she wrote in RAINN.
Rape is horrific. It can truly devastate lives, like in Tiana’s case. It is a serious issue that gets so little consideration, when it deserves to be brought to the immediate attention of the whole world. Although this editorial may focus on sexual assualt and rape that occurs to women, that does not mean men do not face it either. For the sole purpose of this editorial, the main attention will be on violence against women.
A clear example of how much women face the prospect of rape is that 1 in every 6 American women has experienced an attempted or completed rape (RAIIN). According to Future Women,“81% of women have been catcalled, groped, yelled at, stared at, intimidated, followed or harassed online.” This is the catalyst of rape. Many just dismiss behavior like harassing and inappropriately catcalling, groping, yelling, and staring at women as normal. It is just boys being boys. Which leads to it is just men being men when confronted with rape. How is that appropriate?
Rape culture, along with catcalling, groping, staring, and harassing women, is so prominent in society that it can so easily be ignored or disregarded. “Most women and girls live in fear of rape…That’s how rape functions as a powerful means by which the whole female population is held in a subordinate position to the whole male population, even though many men don’t rape, and many women are never victims of rape. This cycle of fear is the legacy of Rape Culture.” Marshall clearly sums up. Rape culture is a critical reason why women are still oppressed, even in the most miniscule ways, and why the normallacy of rape exists. It is “the social environment that allows sexual violence to be normalized and justified,” Barczyc states in UN Women.
Now with all this, do victims get justice? Rarely. Justice should be served to the victims, but it rarely ever is. With how normalized rape is, it is barely ever punished. But the perpetrators would have their lives ruined and the claim is probably false anyway, so there is no use in punishing assailants. A former president of the United States of America had several rape allegiances claims before and during his presidency. His life was not ruined because of it. In the meanwhile, a victim might become pregnant and with all the heavy abortion debate, she would have to keep the baby. The victim could get panic attacks, have suicidal thoughts, and get sexually transmitted viruses (RAIIN). They might suffer from PTSD, and terrible emotional scarring from the experience of violence, and still, the person who had caused all that runs free. One case that exemplifies just how lenient the punishment system is with rapists is shown in Slate Magazine: “A rapist got no jail time, but a homeless man was sentenced to three to six years for attempting to buy toothpaste and food with a counterfeit $20 bill.”
A main reason why the guilty do not get the punishment they deserve is that many do not believe the victim, or blame the victim. As if it is the victim’s fault for the perpetrators decision. According to RAIIN, only 5 out of every 1,000 rapes committed—that’s 0.5 percent—ends in a felony conviction. This lack of retribution just gives the mindset that rape is okay and it is easy to get away with because there are no plasuable punishments applicable for it.
Media, businesses and entertainment objectify and sexualize women, defining them as mere bodies with only one capability. “Prevention…is the solution,” says The Times of India. Teaching young girls and boys on how to respect women and how to civilly grow up in a world where rape culture does not exist is where society should move toward. It will take time, but eventually we will get there.
We have a lot to work for rape to completely diminsh, but there is still hope yet for the future!
Barczyc, Hanna. “16 Ways You Can Stand against Rape Culture.” UN Women, 18 Nov. 2019, www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2019/11/compilation-ways-you-can-stand-against-rape-culture.
Deswal, Vageshwari. “Stop Rapes: Need to Overhaul the Mindset.” Times of India Blog, 1 Dec. 2019, timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/legally-speaking/stop-rapes-need-to-overhaul-the-mindset/.
Egmond , M Van, et al. “The Relationship between Sexual Abuse and Female Suicidal Behavior.” Crisis, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8281805/#affiliation-1. j
Loofbourow, Lili. “Why Society Goes Easy on Rapists.” Slate Magazine, Slate, 30 May 2019, slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/05/sexual-assault-rape-sympathy-no-prison.html.
Marshall, John. “Rape Culture.” Womens Center, 2021, www.marshall.edu/wcenter/sexual-assault/rape-culture/.
RAINN. “Tiana's Story.” RAINN, 2021, www.rainn.org/survivor-stories/tiana-story.
RAIIN. “Victims of Sexual Violence: Statistics.” RAINN, 2019, www.rainn.org/statistics/victims-sexual-violence.
Robertson, Lara. “5 Examples Of Everyday Sexism And How To Respond To Them.” Future Women, 24 June 2020, futurewomen.com/hotlists/5-examples-everyday-sexism/.