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.
(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