Think of the average teenage girl. On the radio she hears Robin Thicke sing “You know you want it”, and Rick Ross say “Put molly all in her champagne/She ain’t even know it/I took her home and I enjoyed that/She ain’t even know it.”
Online she sees Marvels Avenger’s stars, Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner, joke about their costar Scarlett Johansen’s character being a “slut” in an interview. On TV she watches the efforts made to raise awareness about domestic violence at the Grammys while Chris Brown sat in the audience after being nominated.
The issue of the intersection of popular culture and violence against women is hardly new. Popular music has been perpetuating rape culture for years.
Existing as a woman in a society in which violence against females is actively perpetuated and glorified, especially through pop culture, is terrifying.
In March of 2013 two boys from Steubenville, Ohio were found guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl. When the guilty verdict was announced in the Steubenville rape case journalists took sides on the story. CNN discussed how the “young men that had such promising futures, star football players, very good students” and emphasizing the emotional atmosphere in the courtroom when the boys were convicted and felt “their lives fall apart.” ABC News ran a profile on one of the boys with an array of excuses like, “he was in a celebratory mood.” The Associated Press and USA Today stressed the fact that the victim was drunk.
Many media outlets reacted to the verdict with sympathy for the rapists, instead of the victim.
The prevalence of violence and hostility against women, not only physically, but also psychosocially, has established rape as such a deeply ingrained staple of American culture.
It’s not just found in our music’s lyrics, but also evident in the fact that women buy colored and printed pepper sprays and call them fashion statements — they’re so accustomed to being preyed upon, that they shrug it off as the natural order of things.
On the other hand there is a growing number of celebrities in Hollywood who are proudly calling themselves feminists. This lists includes: Emma Watson, Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler, Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, Ashton Kutcher, John Legend, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and more.
Many of them have publicly spoken out on why they’re feminists and what it means to them. This is an example of pop culture fighting against rape culture. Not all of Hollywood is perpetuating rape culture.
However, there are celebrities also pushing us back against it like, Shailene Woodley. She claimed she was not a feminist, “No because I love men, and I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance. With myself, I’m very in touch with my masculine side.” Which shows a complete misunderstanding for what feminism really is-equality of the sexes.
The push back on rape culture in Hollywood and our culture is growing with the help of famous figures like President Obama and Emma Watson. But it is not always enough.
Rape culture exists within songs, movies, TV shows, hookup culture, college campuses, and big cities. While we’re not going to get rid of rape culture in a day, we can raise awareness and help educate people to begin the process.
The media and Hollywood play a big role in helping stop it, they need to stop creating the idea that making jokes or comments about rape is no big deal because it was meant as “a joke.”
It needs to be taken seriously and needs to be actively fought against.