How community impact can change rape culture

June 26, 2018

Written by Martamaria Rosado, Crisis Services Manager

How many times have you heard or laughed at a joke (intentionally or not) about what happens when you drop the soap in prison? See a movie that references a similar joke? How often do you see someone being cat-called while walking down the street? This is rape culture.

Rape culture is not often what’s at the forefront of our minds. However, it is constantly present in our lives. It is an environment in which rape is prevalent and where sexual violence is normalized and excused. Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of people’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence.

Many don’t often recognize rape culture and all that it encompasses because it can take many forms. For example, when a journalist uses the word sex instead of rape, that is perpetuating rape culture. The fact that many sexual assault prevention strategies teach victims how to avoid being abused, rather than teaching people not to perpetrate sexual violence, allows for rape culture to continue.  

What we say and how we say it is important, but our reactions to what others say are just as important. We have the power to create change within our social circles and in our communities. It can be as simple as not laughing when someone tells a sexist joke, addressing why prison rape isn’t comical, and educating others around gender biases.

The way that we collectively think about rape and sexual violence is also important. This shapes the way language is used in articles, movies, shows, schools, the way we teach our children about what is right and wrong, and the way that we are able to create a safe environment that is victim-centered and empowers people to speak their truth.

In a society filled with victim-blaming statements, rape myths, and rigid gender norms, it can often be difficult for sexual assault survivors to come forward and seek services. Doing your part of eradicating rape culture can make all the difference. So next time you’re at a party and hear someone telling a joke about rape or hear someone saying a male can’t be sexually assaulted, use your voice and your power to create change.