Rape culture has been brought up by one of my fellow writers on this site before. She focused mainly on advertisements, shirts, magazines-- products, essentially.
This article will be focusing a little bit more on behavior. I have one thing that men should stop doing and one thing that women should stop doing (or at least things that are very, very problematic).
Here we go.
Men: Penis Size
I have never understood and probably never will understand the obsession men seem to have with the size of their privates. I guess if your testicles are bigger, they'll hold more semen, so more potential babies? That sort of makes sense. But the penis? And bragging about how big it is? What's that about?
Some women do seem to prefer larger specimens, but about as many seem to prefer small or average sizes. It really depends on the size of the lady's vagina. If you have this teensy little thing, why on Earth would you want to cram a giant penis in there? If you have a somewhat bigger opening, it makes sense to want a bigger penis to fill it.
But here's the problematic part of it: Men, in general, brag about their members being large. Also, men, in general, want a woman who possesses a small opening. I understand that the penis gets pleasure from being in a tight spot. The part I have trouble understanding is the idea that a woman would want something too big for her. From what I've seen, a lot of men seem to equate "having a large penis" with "being able to please a woman sexually," and that simply doesn't make sense. If the sizes are too mismatched, the woman will be hurt.
So, whether conscious or subconscious, this obsession with having a large penis boils down to hurting the woman in some way. If you asked, I'm sure most men would assure you that they don't want to hurt the women, and I would believe them. But the implication of this obsession is... unfortunate, at best.
Women: Playing "Hard-to-Get"
"Men want what they can't have," right? "Ignore him and he'll be like putty in your hands," right? "You don't want him to think you're easy, do you?"
This one's icky on at least two levels. One, who cares if you're easy or not? It's your business (and your partner's/partners') who you are and are not "spending quality time" with. This is slut-shaming in one of its most common forms.
Two, why should he want what he can't have? Why would your "no" make him say "yes?" When women play hard-to-get, this leads to an assumption that a woman who is truly uninterested is only playing hard-to-get. If I tell a man I'm not interested or if I just sort of politely turn him down, he'll continue bothering me because he's been programmed by society to think that I'm just "playing hard-to-get." This leads to harrassment. This could lead to assault, in some cases.
I don't victim-blame. I will never victim-blame. If someone is truly uninterested, it is his/her/zir right to be left alone. But when a person is interested and pretends not to be, it creates a pattern, and then the people who really are not interested are affected.
Men, be comfortable with whatever size you are, and don't brag about being big enough to hurt someone. Whether you are big or small or average, there are ladies out there who are compatible with you. Women (and men), just like who you like. Don't pretend that you're uninterested when you are. It's frustrating for everyone involved and ends up causing trouble for people who would really rather be left alone.
If we could just work on these two things, I think we could get rid of a nice little chunk of the "rape culture" ideology that our society has ingrained in us.
There is an epidemic in our society, and no, I’m not talking about consumerism (although, given the season, that would be a valid epidemic to discuss as well). I’m talking about “rape culture.” What this term refers to is a society in which rape is normalized, commercialized, and even turned into comedy. I’ve heard people say that it is unhealthy to take life too seriously or that humor is a good way of dealing with things that you otherwise cannot change. The problem is that, as human beings, we should be fighting against violence against other human beings. End of story.
In our society, you can witness, by either turning on your T.V or stepping outside, our very own lovely rape culture.
First, there are the obvious anti-feminist (no, scratch that, anti-human!) advertisements for products that we use without pause. Examples:
These are just advertisements, things which we are forced to endure everyday without question. We are told what beautiful is and what sexy is from a young age. What does this have to do with rape culture? For starters, what we are told is beautiful is set to be unobtainable. One company (H&M) has decided that, as there are no humans that live up to their standards of beauty, they are going to generate images of the “perfect body” and throw a picture of a model’s face on it to imply that this is what we should be striving for. What this means is that, from the time we can pick up a toy and look at it, we are being told that what is important is the size of your… wardrobe (let’s go with that), and that your body is what matters.
Advertisements breed insecurity. What this means is that men are being told that women are only good for sex. This may sound like an exaggeration, but here are a few shirts being marketed to young girls:
So, basically, young girls are being told that how they look is what matters. Why should they do homework if they are pretty, right? I have heard of shirts that go so far as to say things like “Bunny in training.”
All of this is what sets the stage for what I like to call the second level of sexploitation. These are things that go beyond the average horribly anti-human messages which you can find in advertisements directed to women, men, and children every day. These are messages so terrible that they progress the rape culture that we live in today to a whole new level. Here are some examples:
[Editor - Shirt reads: "CALM DOWN DEAR Let's not turn this rape into murder!"]
I know, it’s just a t-shirt, just a toy, just an advertisement, just a… I could go on and on. I fully believe in free speech. I am using my right to free speech right this very minute as I write this. I am personally concerned about the fact that children are being exposed to such sexualized images. I know that many adults also don’t appreciate being bombarded with that negative imagery, but many adults can differentiate between a t-shirt and real life (well, I’m not entirely sure about that either).
Rape is viewed by many psychologists and medical professionals as power-related. The rapist wants to have complete power over his / her victim. Ultimately, the victim ends up being dehumanized and used. These images which are pornographic are being promoted as “the norm,” as “okay,” and if you don’t like them, you can expect to hear that you are “a prude,” “too sensitive,” and so on and so forth. So, to sum up, viewing the dehumanization and sexualization of human beings as wrong is now far from being the norm.
The third level of rape culture which extends beyond any of this occurs in men’s magazines. There are studies about the difference between the language of a rapist and a man’s magazine, and, quite frankly, the lack of a difference is stunning. Magazines which many men turn to for advice in how to deal with relationship problems are endorsing the same views that rapists themselves have endorsed.
But I don’t suppose that it stops there, because women are not helpless victims in “rape culture.” Women’s magazines are telling women different things about sex, but, basically, when you pick up a “Cosmo” or any women’s magazine, you can count on the most popular stories being about how to dress the right way, diet the right way, do your hair the right way, or have sex the right way.
The second wave of feminists were desperately striving for many important things, but, regarding sexuality, they were striving for something entirely different from what our society glorifies today. A quote from the book Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism by Natasha Walter sums it up perfectly: “Once upon a time many feminists enunciated the opposite idea; they talked of the idea that women and men should meet equally in the bedroom, but rather than seeing this as an equality founded on lack of feeling, they idealized freely chosen sex characterized by intimacy and emotional connection.” Instead, it appears that both women and men are striving for an entirely different kind of sexuality, which revolves around using sex for manipulation and personal gains with little emphasis (if any) on love. Rape and manipulation seem the goal of our sexploitive culture where sex is concerned. By endorsing rape and the view that women (slightly more so then men) are only worth sex, we are promoting violence and risking the loss of love and connections that, at this point, sounds hopelessly romantic to even mention in our society.
I’d like to leave off with this quote by Anais Nin: “I seize upon the wonder that is brushing by, the wonder, oh, the wonder of my lying under you and I bring it to you, I breathe it around you. Take it. I feel prodigal with my feelings when you love me, feelings so unblunted, so new, Henry, not lost in resemblance to other moments, so much ours, yours, mine, you and I together, not any man or any woman together.”