Rape Culture Awareness Spreads Through RHS With Help From Active Students and Teachers in Community

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), every two minutes an American is sexually assaulted. Equally horrifying is the fact that 60 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to the police and 97 percent of rapists never even spend a day in jail. Yet even with these statistics, it seems as if RHS students and teachers are doing very little to prevent the spread of rape culture.

Rape culture is the way that our society has become so accustomed to the idea of rape that it is considered the norm. As a result, people are taught not to be raped instead of not to rape. Here at RHS, “slut shaming” and rape jokes are far from rare occurrences and lead to the spread of rape culture.

Slut shaming is the act of making a person feel inferior or guilty for having sexual behaviors that are promiscuous. But to fully understand slut shaming, we first must break down the word “slut.”

Students at RHS commonly use the word slut or any of its synonyms. The word is used to subjugate and oppress. If a girl dares to act on her desires or even wear revealing clothing, she is automatically degraded by being called a slut. To avoid being judged as a slut, girls are forced to constantly think about what they should wear rather than what they want to wear or feel comfortable wearing.

“Girls do not wear clothing to make the boys in their classes want to have sex with them,” sophomore Joanna Klinedinst said. “Girls dress the way that they do so they can feel comfortable and maybe even beautiful. a�� Men are not animals. When boys see a girl’s exposed shoulder they are not so overcome by lust that they can’t pay attention. a�� [Even if they are] it is not our fault.”

Recently, feminists have been more outspoken about rape culture. With more articles in newspapers, more blogs and more conversations, feminists have been drastically trying to spread awareness.

When the hashtag “#rapecultureiswhen” began trending on Twitter March 25, hundreds of users tweeted things like “#rapecultureiswhen men think it’s “no big deala�� to catcall at me on the street, make explicit comments about my body and touch me without asking” (Twitter user gogreen18) and “#rapecultureiswhen a man claims his self control can be so easily short-circuited by what a woman is wearing” (Twitter user nefariousnewt). All of these tweets show that rape culture is a widespread phenomenon.

“Guys have no idea what it feels like to have to think twice before they go places- before they have to go outside at night, before they walk alone in certain places. I think it’s important for people to be aware of the dual nature of what it is to be a guy and to be a girl,” social studies teacher Heidi Hemming said.

There are many organizations that work to prevent the spread of rape culture and sexual violence. Since 1999, Take Back the Night, with chapters nationwide, has been working to “shatter the silence” and “stop the violence.” Their website features survivor stories, ways for victims to get help and events held to spread awareness. RHS alumna Feriell Hayton (2013) recently went to a Take Back the Night event.

“People can avoid rape culture by holding people of all genders accountable for inappropriate behavior…It is not wrong to dress in whatever way you choose and it is not wrong to have female anatomy. What is wrong is telling girls from a young age that it is their job to keep boys from gawking, making commentary or worse,” Hayton said.

A few students are planning to create a National Organization for Women (NOW) club at RHS that will start next year. NOW is an organization devoted to achieving equality for women through education. The RHS branch has yet to apply to receive administrative approval, but plans to soon.

“We need to be telling boys that a�� you do not get to decide whether someone is worthy of respect based on what they wear,” Hayton said.

We live in a world where sexual violence in the military is officially regarded as unacceptable but unofficially condoned, a world where songs with lyrics like “I know you want it” (Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”) can reach number one on iTunes and the Billboard Top 40. Rape is never acceptable, rape is never the victim’s fault and girls should not be degraded because of what they wear.