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What Is Rape Culture? Why You Should Care.

I’d been meaning to write a meaty article fully detailing why I am so vehemently anti-slut shaming, anti sexist bullshit, and very viciously feminist. However, before doing so a friend shared an article that much more eloquently summed up what I had wanted to say. In an article entitled ‘What Is Rape Culture’, several Buzzfeed staff members deconstruct and eloquently elucidate the true meaning of ‘rape culture’ and the various components the can be seen in society today.

Many facets of what is covered in this piece are highly applicable to stigma and attitudes present in the attitudes and perceptions at play at major festivals, clubs, raves, and beyond. Recently, one writer of Daily Beat, identified only as ‘Gianna’ wrote about ‘how to be classy‘ and specifically accused the unidentified woman as dressing like a “cheap whore”.  The article from Buzzfeed addresses this kind of ideology directly and succinctly:

“The old metaphor is that women who dress provocatively are the same as homeowners who don’t lock their doors at night. But this argument only further reduces women to objects and asks them to be responsible for preventing their own rape.”-Buzzfeed

In other situations, I’ve found myself offended by some of the content shared by people I consider to be friends. In one such instance, an image of a puppy with the caption jokingly stating that ‘roofies were high in vitamin C’. As someone who has had friends who have been victims of date rape (via drugs) and has direct experience with it, I was incredibly offended. Instead of an apology or a polite resolution, I was met with a “get over it” response typical of rape culture acceptance.

Essentially, I’d been hit with a trigger in the form of a “harmless” rape joke.

“Beneath the debate over whether rape jokes can be funny is the larger question of whether it’s healthy for a society to laugh at the idea of sexual violence.”-Buzzfeed

On a personal aside, I have been that girl. I’ve been the girl who wakes up in an unfamiliar bed with no memory of the night before. I’ve had to scramble terrified into a cab in early hours of the morning frantically texting friends for help to figure out how I got there. I’ve mysteriously lost all memory after only a few drinks, and fearfully wondered if anything had happened against my will while I was compromised. This has happened more than once.  I can tell you, there was nothing funny about it.

Someone reading this might think:

  • “Maybe if you didn’t dress like a whore it wouldn’t have happened.”
  • “Maybe if you didn’t drink so much it wouldn’t have happened.”
  • “Maybe if your friends had taken better care of you / been there it wouldn’t have happened.”
  • “Maybe if you hadn’t stayed out so late it wouldn’t have happened.”

This brings us to what bothers me the most:  we should view rape not as an act brought upon oneself, but as something perpetrated by another.

“Rape culture is telling girls and women to be careful about what you wear, how you wear it, how you carry yourself, where you walk, when you walk there, with whom you walk, whom you trust, what you do, where you do it, with whom you do it, what you drink, how much you drink, whether you make eye contact, if you’re alone, if you’re with a stranger, if you’re in a group, if you’re in a group of strangers, if it’s dark, if the area is unfamiliar, if you’re carrying something, how you carry it, what kind of shoes you’re wearing in case you have to run, what kind of purse you carry, what jewelry you wear, what time it is, what street it is, what environment it is, how many people you sleep with, what kind of people you sleep with, who your friends are, to whom you give your number, who’s around when the delivery guy comes, to get an apartment where you can see who’s at the door before they can see you, to check before you open the door to the delivery guy, to own a dog or a dog-sound-making machine, to get a roommate, to take self-defense, to always be alert always pay attention always watch your back always be aware of your surroundings and never let your guard down for a moment lest you be sexually assaulted and if you are and didn’t follow all the rules it’s your fault.”-Shakesville

I’m sick of reading articles about “how to be classy” or why I should “see the humor” in rape jokes.

The articles cited above are well worth the read, ad I highly recommend everyone read them.

The Buzzfeed article can be found here, and the Shakesville piece here.

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