Brock Turner, is a rapist. He’s not an Olympic hopeful, a former Ivy League student, or as his father put it “happy go lucky…with [an] easy going personality and welcoming smile.” He is a rapist. At just 19 years old, he sexually assaulted an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and blamed it on college drinking and hook-up culture. Now we all watch in disgust as he continues to be protected by the systematic and institutionalized ideals that support rape culture.
Rape culture is made up of actions and inactions, questions, derogatory, and sexist sentiments towards women. Rape culture makes sexual violence both invisible and inevitable for women. Rape culture is when the sentencing judge thinks that a rapist’s independence and joy of life is more important than that of his victim’s. Rape culture represents the structural hierarchies, from the legal system, to the media, that can’t possibly perceive men like Brock Turner as criminals. Rape culture is when mugshots are hidden and reputations are protected. Rape culture is what you say, rape culture is what you let people say around you, rape culture is something we all take part in.
Men and women both consciously or subconsciously support this culture of blame every day. Let’s break it down for the 1,000th time for everyone so we can pay more attention to what we say to women:
When you silence the voice of a survivor of rape to make the story about the rapist; his life before the rape, his education, his accomplishments (all reporters ever), you are perpetuating rape culture.
When you ask a woman what she was wearing, drinking, or who she chose to spend her time with (all police officers ever), you are perpetuating rape culture.
When you sympathize with rapists like Tuner for having to register as a sex offender, having his name thrown across all media outlets, or question the validity of a woman’s word (all family members ever), you are perpetuating rape culture.
When you give a woman a list of things she should do to avoid rape: drink less, wear more, just don’t leave the house at night, you are perpetuating rape culture.
When you ever utter the words “I told her this would happen if she [insert whatever foolishness you’d like]”, you are perpetuating rape culture.
And to my “conscious” black people who want to turn a white woman’s rape into a question about other black men who have raped and gotten less jail time than her white rapist, you too are perpetuating rape culture.
What we must understand is when we say or support statements that silence a woman’s voice, her narrative, her attempts for normalcy, to find her resilience in a society that only wants her to be the “‘unconscious intoxicated woman”, we are all perpetuating rape culture.