The Sexual Violence Continuum

In the article, ‘Re-visioning the Sexual Violence Continuum’ by Lydia Guy, our society is described as ‘rape culture’. ‘Rape culture’ is defined by the author as “complex of beliefs that encourages male sexual aggression and supports violence against women” (Guy 10). The author provides a diagram to show her realization that such continuum should include the whole feminism “to illustrate the concept of rape culture” (Guy 10). Since “successful primary prevention of sexual violence requires recognition of the problem” (American College Health Association 5), such diagram, which includes all possible causes of rape, should tell everyone how they are promoting rape culture and prevent sexual violence.

At first, ‘Sexist Jokes,’ ‘Rigid Gender Roles,’ and ‘Sexualized Media Depiction’ could seem a little far fetched, because of the commonness of the three concepts. The article did not mention any specific examples for these three or how they are parts of ‘rape culture’, but I see sexist ‘memes’ (such as ‘overly attached girlfriend meme’ jokes) quite regularly on my friends’ Facebook updates (sexist jokes), and know several married couples who rely on husbands’ income and wives’ housekeeping (gender roles), yet are still satisfied with their lives. Sexualized media depiction is pretty much everywhere these days, from advertisements like sexy beer commercials (below) to movies like 007’s with ‘Bond girls’ (the media depiction). Realizing how closely we are involved in the ‘rape culture’, I could not avoid asking myself, ‘am I promoting somebody to get raped by looking at these and not doing anything about it?’ ‘Are my friends and the couples I know making some women to get raped?’

These are open questions that are quite debatable, but what I realized was that, on the article’s diagram, these three ’causes’ of rape I mentioned are at least five steps away from rape. The distance between ‘Sexist Jokes,’ ‘Rigid Gender Roles’ and ‘Sexualized Media Depiction,’ and the actual rape is significant that it could be the reason why many of us are blinded in seeing the fact that the atmosphere created with such attitudes is creating the rape culture. This diagram not only includes everyone in the society, but also the fact why we have not realized the role of our culture on sexual violence.

To many people, evidences could be too limited to say that all ‘Sexist Jokes,’ ‘Rigid Gender Roles,’ and ‘Sexualized Media Depiction’ are connected to rape. Even if there are conclusive evidences, as the author says, changing these concepts that have been remaining in our culture for a long time, would make rape-prevention more difficult than many of us think. However as Lydia Guy wrote, “rape does not happen just because one individual chooses to rape another”, but “happens because there are attitudes and norms that allow it to happen” (Guy 10), we should be aware of the roles of the norms and stereotypes in sexual violence, so that we can be more knowledgeable in the relationship between our culture and rape. With more physical or just hypothetical but specific evidence, more people will be more actively preventing sexual crimes.


Works Cited

(1) Re-visioning the Sexual Violence Continuum by Lydia Guy, BA

(2) Shifting the Paradigm: Primary Prevention of Sexual Violence by American College Health Association

2 thoughts on “The Sexual Violence Continuum

  1. I never really understood how the quote,”rape does not happen just because one individual chooses to rape another”, but “happens because there are attitudes and norms that allow it to happen” makes any sense. last time i checked, everyone i knew and I do not have a very rape friendly attitude, nor do we live in any area that has a norm to allowing people to get raped. there is no norm, to me all rape is when one person’s individual need, whatever it may be, is taken over an individual and at that persons sexual expense.

    maybe it is just me. maybe i am the only one confused. but when did saying a sexist joke make me want to rape a woman? when did me watching sexy tv, or sexy movies make me want to rape some one. all that did was make me want to be around a sexy girl. sure, some men do not know how to associate with women, and some of these men take their aggressions and problems out violently. but do not blame the culture, blame the weakness in the hearts of men.

    the possibility of someone close to me getting raped is one of the reasons i promote the second amendment.

  2. Humint: I am going to address both your blog post and Optimus Prime’s comment here in my comment. I wanted to say first that when I saw your blog post I was so struck by the juxtaposition of the rape culture continuum image and the woman in a budweiser bathing suit. Though I know you are still grappling with these issues, I think it demonstrates that you get what Lydia Guy is saying. Good Job.

    When she says,“rape does not happen just because one individual chooses to rape another, but happens because there are attitudes and norms that allow it to happen” (Guy 10), I think that she points out that to work against rape culture we need to do more than just round up the “bad guy rapists.” It’s not that simple. Rape is not just about stranger danger jumping out of the bushes at an unsuspecting person and raping them and it’s not just about someone forcing themselves on someone else in a dorm room or apartment. It is not that black and white, it’s the grey in the middle that is so hard to work through.

    If you read JthinksAloud’s post and how she asked her guy friend if he got consent from the woman who was accusing him of rape, he replied “well she was going with it.” What does that mean? To him? To her? To us? How do each of us define consent in that situation? Also seeing ads like humint posted above of traditionally sexy women (thin, feminine, white, large breasts, scantily clad), with come hither gazes, begging you to consume her while you consume a Budweiser beer sets the stage for rape culture. This woman is an object to be had. Like a tasty can of beer.

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