Rape Culture

by Andreece Williams

”Why are you being so sensitive?” “Clearly, you can’t take a joke.” “Why are you so offended? Relax.” Sound familiar? If you are a woman, it is likely these phrases have been aimed in your direction after you have noticeably taken offense to a tasteless “joke” told by a male about a female. A wisecrack about her “hot” body, how good she would be in bed, the things he would do to her, even if she doesn’t want it… When did rape and sexual assault become such laughing matters?

In today’s society, most would probably agree that progress has been made in the area of male and female workforce equality: more women in legislation, in management positions, corporate offices, etc. There have even been assumptions that our next president could possibly be a woman! But socially, women are still viewed as potential male property waiting to be claimed and dominated. We are inadequate, disposable sexual objects as opposed to equivalents. Men are the hunters, and we are the hunted.

In the United States, it is estimated that over 237, 868 sexual assault cases are reported annually. 1 out of every 6 American women has been a victim of rape. In the year 2003, 9 out of 10 rape victims were female. That being said, approximately 17.7 million American women have experienced rape.  Rape and sexual assault in America is a very real issue. In fact, it is estimated that another American is assaulted every 2 minutes. And most of the time, the victim is in fact a woman. To be clear, this is not to say men do not encounter sexual assault and rape, because they do. But statistically, the prevalence of sexual assault and rape among women is significantly higher.

Knowing these statistics and the danger women face on a daily, even hourly basis, it is unfathomable how any human being could find it remotely humorous. It is even considered good material for music (take a listen to “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, “U.O.E.N.O” by Rocko or “Sarah” by Tyler! The Creator). Or how about the nightclub scene from the hit comedy, White Chicks where actor Terry Crews’ character unsuccessfully attempts to sneak drugs into his date’s drink in order to incapacitate her so he could have sex with her? Rape quips are nonchalantly tossed around in the media and in our lives as if they were casual comments on the weather!

Every day, countless remarks are made about slipping narcotics into a woman’s drink to take her home, waiting until she is drunk to sleep with her because he probably couldn’t have her any other way, or following her home and doing unwanted erotic things to her. These are very threatening and very real scenarios women face every single day of their lives! How is that considered comedic? Often times a woman can’t even walk down the street without being gawked at, honked at, yelled at or even pursued. Men, walk a day in our pumps and see why rape jokes are no laughing matter.

Culturally, we are bombarded with sex every day of our lives. We see it on our televisions, in the glossy pages of our magazines; it is crooned about in songs on our radios, plastered across highway billboard advertisements. And a vast majority of the time, the sexual subject is a female. Women should be able to embrace their sexuality in the media and in our daily lives without fearing that we will be forcibly taken advantage of by the opposite sex. We shouldn’t have to watch the things we wear or constantly monitor our libations in a public setting in order to ensure our own safety. And most importantly, a woman should not be chastised for taking offense to a vile sexual remark made about her or any other woman by any man.

As previously stated, rape is unfortunately something that is very common in our country. Therefore, it is highly likely that the woman you are “joking” in front of may have experienced sexual assault or rape in her lifetime. Men, perhaps it is not women who need to be less sensitive; perhaps it is you who need to be more sensitive. And here is a key phrase you should consider adding to your arsenal: “No means no.”


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