Author: Sara Blume; Survivor Advocate
On a personal level, everyone has their own individual culture. Family traditions, language, arts, and literature are just a few components of someone’s culture. On a broader scale, societies have cultures as well, including “rape culture”. Rape culture is a term that is becoming more recognized and an increasingly hot topic. Rape culture refers to the aspects of culture that trivialize, normalize, and perpetuate sexual violence.
Rape culture shows up in different forms. Violent song lyrics is a common example; Too many top-chart songs normalize sexual assault and are played repeatedly without drawing attention to the unhealthy behaviors being sung about. News headlines are spotlighting perpetrator “star athletes” for their academic achievements rather than the sexual assault they committed, while also not mentioning the destruction to the survivor’s life. Even the idea that sexual assault doesn’t happen often, or that all perpetrators go to jail, is rape culture.
When a person does not condone relationship violence, but sings the words or listens to violent songs, they desensitize themselves and others to the reality and severity of the scenarios being described. A perpetrator, no matter their success in school or athletics, has committed criminal acts that devastate – even take, in some cases – the victim’s life. The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that every 92 seconds an American is sexually assaulted and that only 5 of every 1,000 rapists will end up in prison.
Rape culture is a complex and sensitive topic and can be difficult to define or pin-point specifically. Above are just a few examples of common occurrences. The topics of domestic and sexual violence can be incredibly difficult to have conversations about, but avoiding them or making them sound trivial is detrimental to survivors and even people who have not experienced these traumas. Being informed, aware, and supportive are a few ways to combat the effects that rape culture can have on us as individuals and as a society.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault and are looking for help, please call Families First 24/7 Crisis Line 317-251-7575
For more information, there are listed below just a few resources to start with: