We Need to Talk… About Rape Culture

AMANDA CIROCCO

“Was she asking for it?” is rape culture.

“Only women get raped.” is rape culture.

The Bud Light logo “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night.”
is rape culture.

The t-shirt with the slogan “Keep Calm and Rape A Lot” that was available for purchase on Amazon, is rape culture.

As a female college student, I am constantly exposed to examples of rape culture. I am told ways to not be sexually assaulted. I shouldn’t dress a certain way. I shouldn’t talk a certain way. If there is anything you take away from this, please, educate yourself about rape culture. In order to break societal stigmas, we need to educate all races, both sexes and all genders. It’s important that we distinguish the facts: women aren’t the only gender that face sexual assault. One in sixteen men in college are sexually assaulted.

It can happen to anyone, but unfortunately, women are at a higher risk of being sexually assaulted. It doesn’t necessarily mean that women should have to conform to this nature that what they wear is an invitation to be sexually assaulted.

“The impression you give people should be based on how you treat yourself, not on how you dress. Self expression is not a call for attention nor is it a consent or invitation to attack someone because they are dressed like ‘they are asking for it,’” said senior Kristina Horan.

However, the way in which women dress is always one of the first questions that arises in sexual assault cases. What was she wearing? That shouldn’t matter. Did she say yes or no, is what we should be asking.

Students are aware that their clothing impacts the impression they give off.

Senior Carlos Zapata stated, “I don’t think men and women face the same issue when it comes to clothing. I feel like it’s so easy to judge a woman for wearing a tank top and saying she is being sexual, versus, if a guy wears a tank top it isn’t seen as being sexual.”

“We live in a society where now, more than ever, people easily judge you by your appearance. It does bother me when I get different impressions based on what I am wearing. I can always see a difference in how men act towards me when I’m wearing a deep cut top, or a top that covers my cleavage,” said senior Shanice Peters.

Females are told that they send a non-verbal message when they’re wearing a tight dress, showing cleavage, or too much leg. But, even so, even if a woman chooses not to wear certain things, they are still at a risk of being sexually assaulted.

For example, my body could be covered from head to toe, but because I am a twenty-one-year old college female, I am three times more likely than women in general to experience sexual violence. If there are specific types of clothing that send or trigger “mixed signals,” inform me, what type of clothing do men wear that send females “mixed signals?” Oh right, it doesn’t work both ways.

“Body language is a huge factor in how people perceive you, therefore, if you treat your body with respect they should reciprocate that treatment in return,” said Horan.

Senior Alyson Chase stated she has stopped wearing certain clothing because of the way people may view her.

“As a woman with a curvy body, there are low cut shirts that I own that I won’t wear out because I don’t want to warrant unwanted attention. I really don’t think that a man’s clothing affects sexual assault as much as a woman’s,” said Chase.

Horan, who is the director of the “Vagina Monologues” this year stated in our interview:

“Women should be entitled to wear whatever clothing they want without feeling self consciousness, and nervous that they are putting themselves at risk of egging on a guy. Despite this, there are many men who fail to respect this freedom a woman should have. In most circumstances, this lack
of respect is what leads to sexual assaults happening. This should never mean that it`s the women`s fault. It means that society still has a long way to go in eliminating this stigma some people
have over women.”

So what can we really do to change the way society distorts our judgement of clothing, and how can we diminish the stigma of clothing in rape culture?

USATODAY.COM