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What Exactly Is Rape Culture, Anyway?

And what can we do to stop it?

As you can imagine, being physically and sexually violated is one of the most terrible things that could happen to a person. There is an unspeakable kind of pain and trauma that comes after being raped—and considering the millions of victims around the world throughout history, it's often women who fall prey to the crime. But this notion of stripping a person’s dignity doesn't begin and end with the sexual act itself—because society as a whole is still responsible for fostering a culture that still objectifies and degrades other persons. 

You don't have to be a sex offender to be a part of rape culture.

You could be thinking, "Well, I'm not a rapist—I don't contribute to rape culture." But rape culture exists in a pyramid, beginning with supposedly harmless "jokes," verbal jabs against another person's appearance or sexuality, and the personal mindset that rape is, either partially or fully, the victim's fault.

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But they're just "jokes," right? And it's not like jokes are the direct cause of rape, right? Yes and no. Creating a laughing matter out of something that many women and men are afraid to speak up about creates a visible and pervasive culture of ignorance and insensitivity.

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The more we normalize and desensitize the idea of rape with the use of jokes and problematic language, the more we take for granted its urgency to be prevented and stopped.

You never know who will hear your comments about rape. A victim could hear them and feel that their struggles have been devalued. Somebody younger than you could hear them and think, whether consciously or unconsciously, that hey, making light of this very bad situation is somehow "okay." A person who already contributes to rape culture could hear them and take delight in the fact that somebody agrees with them. As evidenced by social media, our words ripple out into society and have a greater effect than we could ever imagine, and this is why we need to think before we speak, especially when it comes to rape.

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Victim-blaming will never be okay.

You may not have been a victim of rape, but at some point in your life you're likely to have encountered rape culture at its first level: street harassment. When a woman walks down the street alone at night, she is vulnerable to unsolicited comments from men about her physical appearance. They may not do any physical harm, but they make her feel unsafe, and they also suggest that a woman's worth comes from what she looks like on the outside—and that for that, she doesn't deserve basic respect.

But what has history told us? Very young children and infants have been raped. According to the PNP Women and Children Protection Center, 75.5% of total reported rape cases involve the rape of children, and the remaining 24.5% involve women. Nuns and missionaries have been raped. Women in traditionally "conservative" clothing have been raped. And yes, women in traditionally "skimpy" clothing have been raped.

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Bottomline? It doesn't come down to what a woman is wearing, because the act of rape has never been about sexual pleasure, but about having power over another person. And if a person can be so vile as to have sexual desires for a young child, then clearly there is a problem with that person, not the victim.

Bottomline? It doesn't come down to what a woman is wearing, because the act of rape has never been about sexual pleasure, but about having power over another person.

"Clothes are, as far as logic goes, inanimate and can't perform any actions. Only the perpetrator does this. Nobody [bats] an eyelash when men walk shirtless on the street, so why shouldn't it be the same for women who choose to wear tank tops and shorts?" one of my friends says.

When we place blame on a woman's clothing as the reason for rape, we are in effect implying that some men must be so horrible that they absolutely cannot control themselves at the sight of a provocatively-dressed woman. This is an insult to the male gender. Yes, rape culture victimizes men, too.

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We can't completely end rape culture, but we can keep it from spreading.

While 7,409 rape cases were filed by women in 2014, this only accounts for incidents that have been reported to the police. Many rape victims choose to stay silent for fear of being judged, not taken seriously, or even blamed in some way. Whether we like it or not, rape culture contributes greatly to this fear. It takes plenty of courage to speak up in world filled with many deaf ears, which is why it's our job as a member of society to foster a culture that allows victims to feel safe enough to seek justice.

So what can we do to help?

Let's unite in the mindset that all people, regardless of gender, age, or physical appearance, deserve respect. Let's not refrain from objectifying women simply because they could be somebody's daughter, sister, girlfriend, or friend. Let's respect them not because of what they are by extension to someone else, but because they are, in themselves, human.

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Let's engage in healthy conversation in real life and social media when the topic of rape comes up. When we encounter opinions different from ours, the solution is not to fire back with insults, but to listen, and then give constructive responses. Rape culture cannot be solved with heated arguments.

Let's be a shoulder to people in our lives who have been sexually assaulted. Allow them to open up to you about their feelings, and help them to come to a point where they can speak up to proper authorities about the incident.

We can't do it alone—because only a new culture can take over an old one. Even though your opinion seems insignificant in a sea of so many others, stay true to your beliefs. The more people openly take a stand, the more this new culture can take root in our society and finally, eventually, become the new normal.

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About the author
Chandra Pepino
Girl Code author
Chandra is 20 years old, a graduate of Ateneo de Manila University, and a writer for Candy Magazine and Real Living online. She writes to heal herself, not from pain, but from curiosity—the world is mad and cold, but writing warms her soul. You will find her nose buried in the works of Chuck Palahniuk and Haruki Murakami, but in real life, her loved ones are her muses. Lissa is, in a lot of ways, Chandra’s twin, and yet her polar opposite: she is impulsive, introverted, and very, very hard on herself. But Lissa is also loyal to her friends, and when she finally falls in love, you’ll find that she falls hard and fast. If you ever see Chandra in person, say hello. She'd love to have coffee with you. Conversations are her favorite.
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I was, but I am not. Desperately, I am trying to reach you – my hope. I am in this particular space in my own constructed world where doubts and frustrations recur. Emphasizing how scared I am being here, I never explored this area before. I was always in those places filled with benevolence, hope shining like the light the sun and the moon possess. And I didn’t have any plans to visit a ‘dark’ place, as how I described it then. But, as funny as how my world suddenly flipped, I am now here, completely lost with monsters persuading me to go insane.

How did I end up here? I can’t logically tell you the answer for that, but I guess, I know when. It started when I had to consider what college course do I want to pursue. Well, if you want to ask what ambition had occurred in my mind when I was young – which is usually the case in terms of life when you were like 7-year-old young - it was definitely being a doctor. I’d thought about wearing a medical coat with a stethoscope around my neck, ready to cure people from their illnesses. It was actually stuck in my mind for so long I almost thought that I was sure of it, yet, as a particular song yields, almost was never really enough and still, it is and will never be.

When I realized that such a perspective was slowly draining me, I tried my best to stand tough. I convinced myself that this was just temporary, that I could think of a way out of this. “There’s still plenty of time,” I once convinced myself. However, my environment demonstrated the contrary: I felt like I was completely out of time.

I was there when my classmates were happily talking about that ‘dream course’ they wish to take in their ‘dream university.’ I was there when my family was suggesting the thought of using my ‘suitable’ speaking voice for broadcasting and voice acting purposes. I was there when my teacher was convincing me that Education suited me the best. That ‘Stand tough!’ aura I used to own back then, suddenly transformed into ‘I give up!’ state, slowly destroying my being. And now, I am here in this space where doubts and frustrations are filling my former enthusiastic self. I need help.

I know, at this point, some of you may never consider me ‘fatal’ because, as you’re reading this, you may judge that I still have the ability to transform my thoughts into words that can be read, so that ‘automatically’ falls into the aspect of complete sanity. No, because I will never tell everything to you in the first place if I still have the urge to stand like I used to, relative to my belief that speaking up through writing is the best way to attract help.

When you look at the photo of mine above, you may say that I was okay. That I was successful. That I was never losing myself. Yes, I was. But, think about what happened days after that was taken and the message of this passage you started reading minutes before, do you think I am still the same girl smiling in the photo? I hope I will be or better yet, improve if the world will permit me. But, now I’m sure – I’m not the same.

LIFE ADVICE YOU NEED TO HEAR WHILE YOURE STILL YOUNG

This blog is dedicated to all teens out there struggling in determining what they really want in their life or if you simply want a glow up. And since were still facing a pandemic, I think this is also a season where everyone is re-thinking about their lives. So, I hope these advices might help you.

Tip #1. TAKE RISK - since most of you are still young, I advice you to take your biggest risk. Whether it may be taking the course you want, a skill you want to acquire or just simply taking the risk to throw away your emotional baggage from your childhood. While you're still young, you have very little to lose. You dont have that much commitments and responsibilities. Because the older you get, the more responsibilities and obligations came. So when they are still not piling up, take the risk! As for me, the biggest risk I took when I was still a teenager is to CUT OFF TOXIC FAMILY TIES.

I may sound rude here but, yeah. I decided to throw away my emotional baggage from my traumatic childhood and cut off some of my family ties and it is completely okay! You dont have to be bothered by whatever they will say. Because at your age, you are already investing on your growth as a person. If you really want to grow, THERE IS NO PERFECT TIME FOR YOU TO TAKE RISK BUT NOW. Because in taking risk you are actually giving yourself a reward of getting something amazing or beyond what you expect you can have. As they say, the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. Keep in mind that the bigger the risk, the bigger possibility of FAILURE. But that is completely OKAY. Because just like what I said earlier, you are still young. You dont have so much to lose so, dont be afraid to take the risk and then fail. But after failing, learn from it and the more courage you have to take risk the greater the learning, reward or happiness. Ito na nga, how to take risk nga ba? And what are the risk that would actually help me to grow? #

2: VOICE LESSON - dont get me wrong, hindi ito vocalization para sa pagkanta. What I mean is, learn to listen to that VOICE INSIDE YOU. Listen to your heart, to your intuition and to your visions because it will be your GUIDE. Because I realize that as you go along your journey of your life and if you really want to be YOURSELF and be successful in achieving your goals, the only GUIDE that you should follow is your OWN VOICE.

It is okay to take and consider other people's advices but at the end of the day,you should never forget to listen to your own voice. Because that voice is what tells you what you truly want. How would you know that if it is your 'own' voice? Your own voice always comes from your HEART. The voice where YOU and GOD'S voice are one. Because I firmly believe that God knows your heart and that is where he reside. I like journaling because whenever I journal my thought every night and every morning, I feel a dual voice inside my head. Like, it contradicts what the other voice is telling. For example: If we have dreams or goals that puts us so much weight and pressure to the point that it makes you exhausted, STOP. Because it might be a dream or goal of someone else. I believe that your own dreams and goals may be frustrating most of the time, but that frustration has fueling feeling that will always tell you that 'This is the hard way to better so keep going'. Frustration in your own dreams will not make you feel exhausted because achieving a dream itself is a fulfilling feeling.

#3. TAKE ACTION - if you really want something to happen, take action. Dont just sit there and wait things to come your way. Make action or decisions that will take you to where you want to go in your life. Just like what I said in one of my novels that I am writing in wattpad, "There is no such thing as destiny or fate. Because YOU make your OWN life choices." For example, I cannot expect to be a published author if I dont write any novels right? The bottomline here is, if you are not moving forward you are actually moving backward. And it is a sad thing. Life is full of situations where you will be put in the line whether you take courage or just stay where you are. Because GROWING needs consistency in moving forward. So if you dont have to enough courage to take action, your life will always stay the same or worse you will continuously shrink down.

#4. EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS - this means stretching your comfort zone. I watched an anime entitled "Black Clover" there is a captain there where he always tell his subordinates to surpass their limits right, here right now. Going out of our comfort zones are surely scary and uncomfortable. But you have to accept the fact that you cannot stay on the coast forever. You have to change, because the only thing that is constant in this world is change right? Go out of your comfort zones because LIMITS are just in the MIND. There are disabled people who are successful in their own careers. Because the lesson here is, if you hold back there will be no growth. Because GROWTH blooms in DISCOMFORT.

Last, #5. INVEST IN YOURSELF - especially now that you are still young, you should focus on investing on yourself more. Time is your bestfriend at this point of your life. You have so much time to discover things about yourself. I never regret buying and reading books that I never knew will help me later on in dealing life's challenges. You can use that time to read books, gain wisdom, or pick a new skill, improve your talent and learn from your experiences. Keep learning outside your home or your school. Because the real battlefield is OUTSIDE. What you learn in school will only help you in your career but your wisdom and experiences will help you in life or as a person. People who doesnt embrace growth will never succeed in their life. (This is a reflection blog from my 21st birthday last week. I hope you can feature this on your page and I hope it can help others as well. )

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