Sweetie, Don’t Get Yourself Raped

dont get rapedIn our society, we have a funny way of wording things and viewing situations. Many of times, it’s easier to put blame on the innocent or to find an excuse or reasoning for an uncomfortable topic.

Maybe that’s why our society chooses to blame women when they are raped or sexually harassed. Because how on EARTH could it be anyone else’s fault but their own? They’re the ones who chose to dress the way they did. They’re the ones who put themselves in that situation at the time or chose that location. Maybe it was bad timing and they shouldn’t have walked alone. Maybe they should have worn looser clothes and more material. Because if they had, there’s no possible way that then they would have been raped.

Some of you have never witnessed this or been affected by it. I used to be like you. I used to pretend that it wasn’t a big deal, that it wasn’t my business. I used to be OK with pretending that there wasn’t a bigger issue here. 

According to Time, “It’s no surprise that we would refuse to acknowledge that rape and sexual violence is the norm, not the exception”.

Did you know that 1 in 6 women have experienced an attempted rape or completed rape? Or that 1 in 33 men have experienced sexual assault?

WE can’t pretend anymore. It’s up to our society stand up for our friends, colleagues, peers, classmates, and the people we see walk by us every day. This is happening to people we know — from not only people they don’t know, but people they DO know.

47% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance. Do you still think that’s OK?

This is Rape Culture

The rape culture in our society is completely messed up. If you don’t know what rape culture is, it’s a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality. We’ve chosen as a society to create this idea that women are raped because of their appearance and that men are are incontrollable to sexual thoughts and desires to women. This concept is wrong for multiple reasons. First, who is society to frame that women are the only ones who suffer from being raped? Men are as well. Second, when is normalizing an invasive and demeaning action seen as OK in our society? According to Julia T. Wood, this is seen to be known as blaming the victim, which is “holding a person responsible for the harm that another person has inflicted” (2015, p. 257). Wouldn’t it make much more sense to hold the person who has inflicted the harm, responsible?

cause rapeFor instance, should it be okay for members of our society to say phrases like “Well she was asking for it with what she was wearing”, “She looks like a slut so why should we care?”, “She shouldn’t have drink that much. Maybe if she was more responsible”, or “She shouldn’t have been so friendly or flirty with that guy or he wouldn’t have thought she wanted it”. According to Wood, “one reason that rapes are common at colleges and universities is the existence of what researchers call a campus “rape culture” (2015, p. 256). I’m guessing it probably doesn’t feel good to feel like you are being blamed for a harm that you didn’t actually inflict. But if you aren’t going to blame the rapist, who will you blame? Because the way I see it, letting a rapist get away with their actions might as well be the same as assisting in the act itself.

dress rapeThink about how this affects the victim. We need to STOP victim blaming. According to Psychology Today, “Victims threaten our sense that the world is a safe and moral place, where good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people”. It’s so much easier to be in denial that it is possible to have something bad happen to you even when you haven’t done a single thing wrong. But that doesn’t make it OK either.  We need to start taking responsibility for our own actions. What could we have done to help? What was wrong with the person who raped the victim. It should never matter what a woman is wearing — “Her little black dress does NOT mean yes”. 

What Is Our Role in This?

I think when we start to realize that rape culture is about OUR attitudes as members of society that normalize rape, we will begin to think twice when we blame a victim. The truth is, rape sucks. It’s unfortunate, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Rape victims suffer from depression and other mental disorders because of what happened to them. They are already blaming themselves enough, so why should we add to that?

rape

This “Rape Culture protester” states: “My rapist doesn’t know he’s a rapist. You taught him it wasn’t his fault. I drink too much, flirted, and my shorts too short. I was asking for it. He left me in a parking garage staircase. My (ex)boyfriend spit in my face. He called me a SLUT, he called me a whore. I deserved it. My friends gave me dirty looks, they called me trash, not realizing, it could have been them. This culture, your culture, my culture, told them, told me, this was my fault. And I suffered. But, my rapist doesn’t know he’s a rapist. I am not ashamed. I will take a stand. SlutWalk DC 2011.” (To learn more about the DC SlutWalk, click here)

How Do We Take a Stand?

It’s time for us to reach out. Let’s make ourselves aware of the issue at hand. Let’s help prevent rape from being a normal occurrence. Let’s teach children to have self control and that they are responsible for their own actions. Let’s stop punishing teenager girls for wearing clothing that is “too distracting” at school, and teaching boys that they don’t have to restrain. Let’s help women, especially, feel comforted and loved instead of alone. If we don’t change our attitudes, current rape culture won’t either.

 

**DISCLOSURE: I recognize that rape culture is an issue with men too, but choose to focus on the gender issue of women being blamed for “getting raped” because of personal experience.

 

Reference:

Wood, J. T. (2015). Gendered lives: Communication, gender, and culture (11th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.

I am not my parents

Growing up I watched as my mom would clean the house everyday, pack me and my siblings lunches for school, pick out our clothes to wear, be there when we got on and off the bus, and make dinner most nights. At the same time, I watched my dad come home late in his police uniform, take out the trash, mow the lawn, do handy work, and wash the cars. Usually it was my mom who planned our birthday parties, my mom who went to the PTA meetings and attended class field trips. Then at night she would leave to work a night shift at the local hospital as a mother-infant nurse.

Interesting enough, you’d think that would rub off on me as what a “dad” is supposed to do versus what a “mom” is supposed to do. Guess what? I haven’t conformed to the gender roles I was expoIMG_5144sed to as much as you would think.

It’s important to remember that you don’t have to live in the boundaries that you grew up in. You don’t have to be confined to the gender norms that a “typical” parental role might have. Growing up with two parents who worked stereotypical jobs to their gender didn’t teach me to follow in their footsteps. Surprising right?

I think we all struggle with this. With wondering how much we should takeaway from our parents and how much we should leave behind. We like some of the behaviors and gender roles that our parents preform, but then others we’d like to change. That’s exactly how I feel, at least.

In my opinion, this goes completely against the cognitive theory shown in the Gender Lives: Communication, Gender, and Culture. The cognitive theory teaches us that we develop our gender roles based on what our parents do and what we learn around us.

However I’d have to disagree to an extent.

IMG_5836Although some of the gender roles I would see growing up have stuck with me, like household duties, that isn’t everything. I think it’s really fun to mow the lawn. I enjoy shooting guns, playing with legos, and playing sports for fun. Although I appreciate my mom’s profession, I don’t want the same for myself. I like to help people, but I don’t want to be a nurse, a teacher, or take another stereotypical career path to my gender. In the Time article, Amy Tennery discusses how women can be the bread-winners and still do more house work. While this gives me comfort that I can have a job that I want that isn’t traditional like my parents (since my dad was seen as the bread-winner), statistics show that I’ll still do more household duties as a women. I think this shows that women do what’s needed. I’ve learned that it’s helpful to know how to do “masculine” duties as well. Just because my mom didn’t preform “masculine” duties when I was little doesn’t mean that I won’t because of it. If it needs to get done, it’ll get done.

I have learned some of my behaviors from gender roles from my mom, but I think what is intriguing is to remember that we are in control of our own bodies. We get to pick and choose what we take from our society and those around us.

I may be exposed to gender norms, but that doesn’t mean I have to stick to them. I think this theory is helpful to make yourself aware of your surroundings. Without being aware, you won’t know what you actually want to take away.

 

 

Monkey See, Monkey Do

The social learning theory explains that our behaviors are based off of what we think is appropriate. From a young age, we were taught what is appropriate and inappropriate ways to act and behave. If we did something that was “right” we would be praised, and if we did something that was “wrong” we would be scolded. These rewards, so to speak, are based on what we learn as socially acceptable.

For example, have you seen the adorable commercial by Swiffer WetJet, Big Jerry Bell and Son?! In this commercial Big Jerry Bell’s character is a dad who is teaching his son how to clean up after himself by mopping. While we would usually expect to see a commercial with the mom cleaning, Swiffer WetJet decides to be more progressive. By the son observing his dad and consequently wanting to be just like him, we see that his dad is praising him for it. He is being rewarded for doing household duties and cleaning up for himself, and in return will strive to do that in the future.

big jerry bell
Big Jerry Bell and Son

Now when parents see this commercial they will hopefully be inspired to push their kids to help them clean. When a little boy or girl watches this commercial, they will hopefully see that it is “good” to help their parents clean up around the house and want to do the same. These children will think that helping to clean is an appropriate behavior to have, therefore they are learning that is is socially acceptable. We praise Swiffer WetJet for this inspiring lesson. Hopefully children around the nation will be more willing to do chores now!

The Face Behind the Words

Hi, my name is Savannah. My major, Organizational Communications and Public Relations, brings me to being here with you now. I’m a junior at Longwood University where I balance my time between different organizations and activities. Aside from from my PR courses, I like to dip my toes in media as well. I’m the Vice President of Programming and Ritual for my sorority, Alpha Sigma Alpha, the Online and Social Media chair for Relay for Life, a coach for Girls on the Run, the Social Media Coordinator and a writer for The Odyssey Online, and a Greek Ambassador. I guess you could say I’ve created an illusion I have more time then I actually do, but that’s what makes life interesting, right?

Through my hectic life, I’ve developed good skills and expertise in communications. I learned to adapt my communication styles in order to interact with a variety of customers in a fast-paced restaurant environment. I’ve taken the lead in multiple organizations and businesses, some stated above, to develop programs and online branding. I’ve also maintained close friendships over many years and geographical distance as we’ve moved in different directions, which is very important to me.

When I took the course, Media and Society, I found a greater understanding for gender. In the past I had never really thought about the differences in genders and what is fair between males and females. This course helped open my eyes to see that males and females shouldn’t be restricted to certain things; that everyone should be allowed to have access to whatever they like, because they like it. It was especially watching YouTube videos that showed me what young boys and girls are exposed to. I may not still understand all the gender problems in our society, but I am now at least more aware of them.

Thoughts on gender and communication by Savannah Scheerer