The term “Rape Culture” has been in the media a lot the last few years. A google search of the term produces 12 million results of articles, blog posts and every kind of web page in between.
But what does it really mean?
Myan Duong was walking by herself during the day to meet a friend for lunch when a man started following her.
He asked her where she was going and she replied shortly, “none of your business.” He asked her why she was being so rude and she told him, “because you’re a stranger, I don’t know you.”
At this point it must have been clear to him that she had no interest in talking, but he continued to follow her for several blocks, keeping up with her increased pace, crossing the street when she did and attempting to talk to her. When she found her friend, the stranger decided it was time to leave her alone. She was a little shaken up, but not outraged.
Sadly, this type of thing is pretty commonplace in the life of a young woman.
It starts for most when they begin to hit puberty. A truck full of men might honk at you on the street while you’re walking home from school.
As you get older, the men get bolder.
When out in public you can expected to be shouted at. The way your body looks becomes a topic of conversation for others to discuss, loudly.
It’s a reminder that as a woman out in the world, your body doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to anyone who wants to look. If they like what they see, then they can feel justified in commenting on it, out loud, as if you asked their opinion. You have no anonymity as a young girl out in public.
You will be made to feel self-conscious. Maybe your outfit is the problem. Is your skirt too short? Shirt too tight? You’re probably wearing too much makeup.
It doesn’t matter if they’re not shouting at you because even the way men look at you is totally different. You can see their eyes first scan your body, before they eventually come up to your face. They start to look at you the way a predator looks at their prey.
And as you grow up, society tells you that you are, in fact, prey.
There are men out there to get you! So you have to learn to protect yourself.
When you walk to your car, you should carry your keys in-between your knuckles. On your keychain, there should be pepper spray. Make sure you bring a friend with you, anywhere you go, especially at night.
Choose your outfits wisely. Don’t wear anything too revealing, even if you want to, because some men just can’t help themselves. Plus, you don’t want people to think you’re “that kind of girl.” Don’t get too drunk at parties and don’t kiss a boy you’re not willing to have sex with; otherwise, “you’re just asking for it.”
If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because this is the narrative that women are brought up with.
At Fullerton College, a campus with two incidents of reported sexual assault this semester, it’s important for students to understand that rape culture is not only a problem for women who have been sexually assaulted.
It’s a problem for any woman who has been shouted at on the street, any woman who has been hit on aggressively out in public. It’s a problem for any girl who has felt unsafe by a stranger who liked the way that she looked.
Rape culture is a problem for all women and if you care about any woman, then it’s a problem for you too.