Monday, 10 December 2012

The Poisonous Nature of Rape Culture

Recently, I read an article which I would describe as being fairly judged, necessary and, unfortunately, somewhat troubling.

Find a link to said article here, in which Laura Bates discusses the danger of sites such as Uni Lad which serve to encourage and normalise 'Rape Culture' in younger generations. The danger here is that the jokes about rape and abuse of women will spill over into real life, reducing these issues to triviality and a humour tool.

A friend of mine, who I will usually claim is quite well informed and in possession of common sense, described this article as being written by an 'overly sensitive, hysterical woman.' Unless he was reading a different article to me, I am still completely baffled by this response. Is this a symptom of my fears, that Rape Culture will eventually become so common that it becomes normal and unremarkable? Instead of raising awareness of the misogynistic abuse women face daily, they will simply become the subject of jokes and will probably just be told to 'get over it.'

The assumption that rape, along with the sexualization and objectification of women, is a matter of humour reduces the seriousness with which we must treat these issues in order to raise awareness of the level with which they occur in culture today, and the steps that must be taken to reduce, and hopefully eradicate, them.
To reduce a woman to a sex object is to place her as a sub-human. What chance is there of women being awarded the respect and equality they deserve if they are being reduced to 'big tits' and objects of pleasure for men? My assumption is that the likelihood of this happening is rather minuscule.

Through repetitively labelling women as 'sluts' and 'whores', this misogyny is positioning women who express sexual desires as shameful beings and also suggesting that any woman who denies sex and says, as is within her rights to say so, 'no' is really asking for it and just making her man work harder for it. This then tells ignorant readers of sites advocating Rape Culture that sex is only permitted for a woman when she puts up a fight; a woman who asks for sex overstepping her mark and entering male territory and should be shamed and abused for her behaviour. If objecting to these classifications is hysterical then I am happy to be labelled so - rather that than 'slut' simply for admitting that sex is an enjoyable experience.

It would be easy to suggest that these jokes only exist on satirical websites and aren't a part of real life but spending one evening in the company of undergraduate 'lads' would quickly quell this argument. Since I wouldn't expect anyone to willingly undergo such pains, the facts speak in similarly loud volumes. Google them. If stats don't tickle your pickle then I welcome all non-believers to have a casual browse of The Everyday Sexism Project - their twitter feed makes for shocking reading daily.

The unavoidable truth is that inequality of the sexes is still rife and that the mistreatment and abuse of women is still a very prevalent issue. Women may be getting closer to equal pay (not close enough), and men may be finally learning how to use an iron. But for every one time a woman gets promoted above a man, hundreds of others are being called sluts and whores because apparently it is funny - it isn't.

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