On Rape Culture: By Mackenzie Moss
There is a socially constructed narrative of what sexual assault looks like within our society.
In most instances that narrative includes a pretty girl walking down the street when a strange, unknown dark figure reveals himself from the shadows and violently attacks her. This may be one way that individuals might experience sexual assault, but it has become the only narrative our society is willing to accept when it comes to the larger way sexual assault actually exists within our society.
From cat-calling and explicit threats to the check your gender boxes on most applications, our culture has established a system that places individuals into socially constructed and accepted roles and situations. Those roles and circumstances are a major part of the way sexual assault finds its way into our lives so prevalently. There are countless pieces of literature that explain these specific instances with much more clarity, accuracy, and credibility than I ever could. It can even be described as relatively easy (for most individuals) to educate oneself on the realities of gender based discrimination within our society, a type of discrimination that has come to target all genders in different ways within the larger conversation surrounding sexual assault as a whole. Therefore, I will just describe one aspect of rape culture that I find to be especially startling and eye-opening, one aspect that will hopefully be enough to get even just one person to take the time to research and educate themselves more thoroughly about the underlying causes surrounding the prevalence of sexual assault within our society.
Halloween weekend marked a huge party weekend for pretty much every college campus within the US. With those parties comes a large number of things that perpetuate rape culture. However, there is one I find particularly astonishing, mostly because of the way it has been normalized. There are literal quotas that dictate what the desirable ratio of women to men should be at a party. Literal quotas. Unsurprisingly, women are welcome at most parties whereas men are counted and monitored. This is one horrifically explicit aspect of rape culture among college campuses. The more drunk “women” the better, the more “men” to potentially steal those women the worse. This is just one way that rape culture infiltrates college campuses, but it is one that I find to be so ridiculously obvious, making it all the more terrifying.
The voices of those who reveal the realities of rape culture especially on college campuses are chalked up to nothing more than “one perspective” within a controversial conversation. Advocates and even worse victims are criticized for being “too sensitive,” while sexual assault persists. There is a large-scale denial of the way our culture perpetuates sexual assault. The blame is placed solely on the individual, not on the structure of the system. In order to solve this problem, there needs to be a large scale re-conceptualization of the way sexual assault functions in our society: a conceptualization that punishes perpetrators but also targets the perpetuation of rape culture. The first step of that re-conceptualization is education and awareness, something that everyone who has the tools to do so should pursue.