Last night I overheard a conversation about the Bill Cosby case. One of the guys said, “I don’t believe any of those women were raped. In fact, I think most women are lying when they claim rape. They just changed their mind about wanting to have sex.” His friends agreed and they moved on to another trending topic.
It’s hard to believe a group of adults could disregard something as big as rape so easily. Yet 1 out of every 3 women living in the United States reports that at some point in their lives they have been sexually assaulted. Don’t believe it? Look it up, it’s a well-known statistic. Go ahead, type it in your Google search bar and watch the flood of results. The problem is researchers recently realized something that in all fairness should have come up years ago. The statistic may be somewhat larger than that. The original survey from which that statistic was drawn isn’t lying though. Those are the legitimate unaltered results. The problem is that women aren’t exactly eager to share whether they’ve been the victim of sexual assault or not. But why?
First, you have to understand what type of society America is. We live in a society where women are pretty much quantified and valued based on their physical appearance and sexuality. This has led to many women who have been raped or sexually assaulted to simply not report it as they don’t want to be viewed as damaged goods. Yes, this type of thing still happens outside of the 1950s and our collective ignorance of it is one of the many reasons it is hard for the feminist movement to progress too much farther than it has in the last two decades. Furthermore, even if a women does feel so inclined to report a rape there is still a level of victim shaming that this country indulges in which incentivizes not reporting it.
Many people equate a women acting promiscuously with a harlot who was simply “asking for it.” I’ve heard many examples of women being compared to material possessions such as bank vaults in analogies. It wasn’t too long ago I read a post on social media that read “If a man leaves the vault to a bank open and wakes up find that he’s been robbed, is it the thief’s fault or the man’s?” The analogy then went further by juxtaposing this scenario with rape. If a woman acts promiscuous, then whatever happens to her is her own fault. This line of thinking is what is holding our society back. We need to reach a point in which we can stop objectifying and quantifying a woman’s existence by the size of their waistline. Much of this problem lies in the way that we teach our children sexual education. We spend so much time teaching women how to be careful and who to look out for instead of teaching our men the proper rules of consent, which is not to say that men are not victims of rape or sexual assault — they are. In fact, researchers have also reached a consensus in which they believe statistics on male rape are probably higher than reported, but males are too ashamed to report it just like their female counterparts. After all, we weigh a man’s existence by his ability to be masculine and protect himself. This treatment of our own people has led to our culture being assigned the moniker “rape culture.” What will you do to end it?