This article is about rape.
If that makes you uncomfortable, resist the urge to click away and go somewhere else.
You don’t need to read another article about Kanye or the Kardashians. They don’t matter. This topic does.
I don’t care what race you are – you need to hear this.
I don’t care what religion you are – you need to hear this.
I don’t care what your political affiliation is – you need to hear this.
I don’t care what your sexual preferences are – you need to hear this.
I don’t care how old you are – you need to hear this.
Because apparently we were never taught as children, and that’s why we have such a sick and twisted view of sex where rape is ok if you can give enough excuses.
But if you’re reading this, I’m probably preaching to the choir. You’re reading this article because you care. But how do we change the culture of a world that just doesn’t give a damn?
Let’s Review the Stanford Rape Case
You’ve probably heard about the Stanford rape case in the news. Here’s a quick recap.
In January 2015, Brock Turner, a college freshman at Stanford University attended a party and got drunk. He took a girl, who was also drunk and passed out, and dragged her behind a dumpster and raped her.
He was found guilty in March 2016, where he could have faced up to 14 years in prison. Prosecutors went for 6 years.
In June, Judge Aaron Persky sentenced him to a mere 6 months of jail time, with the option to shorten it to 3 months for good behavior.
This Proves Rape Culture is Alive and Well
The judge gave his reason for a short sentence: “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him.” Apparently the well-being of a rapist is more important than punishing the crime of rape.
The judge’s decision was influenced by Brock Turner’s father who wrote a letter pleading for his son, saying that Brock now has a “lack of appetite” and could no longer enjoy a “big ribeye steak.” He said it was a “steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action.” Apparently making sure his son can enjoy food is more important than teaching him not to rape people.
In his own letter to the judge, Brock was upset that he had “lost my chance to swim in the Olympics.” Apparently his privilege and reputation are more important than damage he inflicted through rape.
In neither the father’s nor the son’s statements was there ever acknowledgement or mention that rape was committed and Brock Turner was responsible. The only remorse shown was over a loss of opportunities and the only blame given was towards alcohol.
And it worked on the judge.
Yet sadly, this is nowhere near the exception. It’s the norm. It happens all over the US, and all over the world, with punishments that are minor or nonexistent, and a culture that ignores or promotes it.
News Flash – Rape Happens All Over the World
India is always in the headlines for its atrocious acts of rape, including a gang rape and murder on a bus in 2012, the rape of an aid worker on a train in 2013, and the rape of a 13 year old girl by her father in 2015 (which afterwards she was whipped by her village as punishment). These are just a few of the thousands of rapes that occur in India every year.
In Bangladesh, young teenage girls are forced to be married to men twice their age. It’s basically legalized rape.
In Kyrgyzstan, there is a sick tradition called ‘grab and run,’ where 40% of women are kidnapped off the street by a group of men, thrown in a car, and driven to the man’s house where she is forced to marry him.
It’s commonly known that ISIS has sex slaves, going as far as creating rules for how to properly rape girls as they are tortured for months and years in captivity.
Most recently, a 16-year-old girl in Brazil was gang-raped by 30 men, who then posted the video on social media.
And before we go and blame other countries for being barbaric and backwards, the US has a growing epidemic of sex trafficking, where teenage girls are kidnapped and forced into prostitution.
And of course the Stanford rape case is one in a string of rapes that occur across college campuses in the US every year.
Stop Making Excuses & Blaming Everything Else
There are always excuses for why rape occurs. There are attempts to belittle its horrors. These scapegoats include:
The worst and most common excuse is the victim. Survivors of rape are blamed for being in the wrong place, being out at the wrong time, wearing the wrong clothes, saying the wrongs things, giving the wrong look or not resisting enough.
And as we’ve seen in most places around the world, it’s simply being the wrong gender.
Any attempt to shift the blame onto a victim is a sad statement that things are just the way they are and we can’t be any better. If you get too close to a cliff and fall off, that’s your fault – that’s how gravity works and there’s no way to change that. But rape is an act of intention and decision by the rapist that the victim has no say in.
Excuses are a pathetic way to say that rape is not the sole responsibility of the rapist.
There’s Only One Reason Rape Happens
A rapist makes the decision to rape someone. Plain and simple
In defense of Brock Turner, a friend wrote, “rape on campuses isn’t always because people are rapists.”
That’s a stupid notion that defies all logic and language. It’s like saying theft can happen without any thief or murder can happen without any murderer.
Rape happens because boys don’t grow up to be men, they grow up to be animals.
They grow up with the belief that their penis is the center of the universe and they can do whatever they want to serve themselves and mask their weakness. All they need is hormones or alcohol or a party or peers or religion or tradition or government or war or anything else to justify what they do.
As long as blame and responsibility continue to be shifted onto anything else other than the rapist, we actively create a culture that condones, legitimizes, and encourages rape.
So How Do We Destroy a Culture of Rape?
We need to actually take it seriously.
Rape is something we like to joke about, deny, or ignore – anything but have a serious conversation about. It lessens the horrific reality of what it actually is. As long as we keep doing it, we let this poison continue to grow and spread.
So stop making light of the issue and start talking about it.
We need to shame it out of our society.
Our culture has a group of people that like to shame insignificant things, and another group of people that don’t think shame and guilt should exist. Both are wrong.
Shame is a powerful emotion that helps us weed out behaviors that destroy our humanity. We’re just shaming the wrong things. We need to call out rape for what it is and shame it out of our society.
If you rape someone, you should feel like shit, and you should feel it from everyone around you. You should feel like the worst scum on the planet.
I don’t believe anyone is beyond redemption. People can change and be better. But redemption can’t come if you don’t realize the horror of your crime.
We need our shame to create a system of punishment.
Our legal system reflects our values and interests. If we don’t think rape is a big deal, it reflects in our punishment. That’s why sentencing for rape cases is often less than sentencing for nonviolent drug crimes like possession of marijuana. And that’s why punishment is directed towards victims rather than rapists (prostitutes being prosecuted in the US, and victims being beaten and killed in other parts of the world).
But if we do think it’s a big deal, we’ll enforce more severe punishments to reflect the severity of the crime. (Castration wouldn’t be a bad idea – it effectively removes the object at the center of their universe).
We need to cut off the seeds of rape.
Rape is the physical extension of a mindset. It’s a mindset that sees other human beings as objects to be used. And that mindset rears its ugly head in our conversations.
It comes out whenever someone blames a woman for being raped. It comes out when we dismiss the seriousness of sexual abuse. It comes out when we question the boundaries of consent. It comes out when we degrade women. It comes out when we brush off crude comments as just jokes.
And it comes out when we keep our mouths shut.
We need to teach our boys to be men.
Though rape is not restricted to gender, the overwhelming majority of attacks are from men against women. Therefore it’s safe to say that men are the problem.
Not all men, but men who commit the act, men who support it, and men who do nothing.
We need to teach our boys about women, sex, and rape. We need to teach them that people are not objects. We need to teach them that they are not the center of their universe. We need to teach them that they can’t take whatever they want. We need teach them to value other people.
In short, we need to teach them to be decent human beings.
We need to teach other people’s boys and correct as necessary, because it’s obvious that not all fathers are capable of this.
We live in a culture where rape is prolific and it’s condoned. It’s a culture that we’ve created and continue to support.
Rape is the cancer that rots away at our society and our humanity. It represents the very worst of us.
Yet we simply don’t care. We minimize the atrocity of the crime. We ignore the scope at which it exists. We shift blame onto the victim. An we perpetuate the cycle.
Until we acknowledge how horrible and widespread rape is, until we call out rape for what it is and shame it, and until actively do what it takes to weed it out from our culture, we will continue to let the worst of us destroy us.