Rape Culture: An Interlude

Rape culture around the world has been twisted and contorted through the years to the point it has reached now. Victims of rape have lost their voice to a noisy background of questions they shouldn’t ever have to answer after such traumatic experiences. Sadly, one of the main questions ends up being “What were you wearing?”

This question alone can unravel the mind of a victim and put favor in hands of the perpetrator. This should never be the case. Single-handedly, this question shifts the tone of the conversation to a kind of victim-blaming. It insinuates that if the victim was dressed a certain way, they in a way facilitated their own rape. This false narrative paints the incorrect picture that clothing has anything to do with why a person is raped.

Sexual assault has all to do with the attacker. The fact that some people don’t see this is heavily influenced by society and culture.

A perfect example of this occurred recently in India. In 2012 in India, a woman named Jyoti Singh Pandey was so brutally gang-raped that she passed away from her injuries. Even though her sad and painful death caused a hysterical uproar for better policies and harsher trials of attackers, some comments kept resurfacing.

“She shouldn’t have been wearing such western clothes.”

This along with “She shouldn’t have been out so late with a man not of blood,” kept coming up in many people’s comments on the rape.

However, India isn’t alone – a perpetuated rape culture exists everywhere, including the United States. Jyoti (may her soul rest in peace) pulled the sympathy of many but, also fell to blame on those same tongues. She unfortunately fell victim to a patriarchal culture and society that allows and perpetuates the continuance of the phrase “boys will be boys.” But when will ‘boys being boys’ become too much and when will these “boys” become men that are accountable for their actions?

From extremely young ages, gender roles are enforced and reinforced in the lives of children. Many times boys are not reprimanded for wild actions such as late nights and nakedness, but for girls, curfews are a strict standard of protection and dress codes are made to “lessen distractions.” Why have we allowed these double standards to now manifest to the point that our women and girls are no longer safe? This lack of enforcement and consequences for boys allows them freedom and entraps our girls. It is essential that boys are taught to be men that know self-control just as girls have been taught since childhood.

We must destroy this idea that patriarchy and male favor does not exist anymore. Instead we must face it and address it head on so that one day woman may be able to live without fear at any time, in any type of clothing, and anywhere.
— Toyin Lasisi, House of Sagan