“They were asking for it.”
No, they weren’t.
No one asks to be raped.
That is the whole concept behind rape; it is nonconsensual. Because if someone were “asking for it”–meaning that throughout the entire experience they wholeheartedly wanted to have sex– then it wouldn’t be rape.
The Oxford Dictionary defines rape as the crime of forcing another person to have sexual intercourse with the offender against their will. This heinous crime, which demonstrates no humanity, deserves no respect. Men face their own stigmas surrounding rape, and can often fall silent as women do sometimes; yet with the disproportionate number of women who have been sexually assaulted, they oftentimes dominate when discussing the inherently misogynistic rape culture.
Rape is rape. And no means no. It doesn’t matter if you’re a star athlete, a straight A student, or someone with a bright future ahead of you, because if you knowingly force yourself on another person, if you knowingly violate another human being, then you don’t deserve any academic or athletic scholarship that you may have received. You do not deserve a bright future.
But more often than not, rapists get away with it. According to the Sexual Assault Research Response Services of Southern Maine, only six percent of rapists will actually go to jail. Why? Because women are afraid to turn them in.
This may seem silly, but look at what happened with Brock Turner, who raped a woman on Stanford’s campus in 2015. There were multiple witnesses and a guilty charge from a jury, and yet Brock only received six months in jail and got out early after three. The crime he committed normally warrants six years prison time.
The reason? Because a long time in jail would hurt Turner’s future and swimming career at Stanford, and since he had no previous criminal record, it was deemed “unfair.”
It was also unfair that a woman was taken advantage of when she was unconscious and raped behind a dumpster. It’s unfair that pictures were taken of her naked body and sent in group chats. It’s unfair that she will have to live her life knowing what was done to her, and knowing that the truth wasn’t enough for justice.
By turning in your perpetrator, you risk being told that you should’ve been more careful, should’ve drunk less, should’ve worn more clothes, should’ve said no. By going to the police, you are forcing yourself to live over something that never should have happened in the first place. And in some cases, you get nowhere. Rape culture causes rape to be normalized and excused.
This culture of female objectification begins early. Girls often have much stricter dress code enforcements than their male counterparts, unintentionally sexualizing girls’ bodies at a young age. This leads young boys to think that they should be uncomfortable by non-sexual parts of a girl’s body–like shoulders or knees–just because they are not allowed to be shown in school.
As boys grow older, misogynistic language is normalized and places men in a position to feel as though they can–and should–overpower women.
No, not every boy who goes to a school with a strict dress code will end up a rapist. Neither are men who make a misogynistic joke. And yes, men are raped too. The culture that exists in today’s society of normalizing and excusing rape needs to end.
If boys will be boys, then boys need to boys that understand the meaning of “no,” respect women and their bodies, and don’t allow stereotypes to define their actions.