Rape Culture is a Problem


Unless you’ve been away from social media and news of every kind for the past few days, you’ve probably heard about the Stanford rape case in which a convicted rapist (three felony counts) will be serving six months in county jail because the judge felt a longer sentence would “negatively impact” the rapist’s future. Rape culture is a huge problem.

If you haven’t yet, I urge you to read the letter written by the real victim in this terrible situation, the woman who was raped. It is difficult to read, but it’s so important.

I usually don’t use the word victim when talking about sexual assault because many believe the term “survivor” is more empowering. I believe that’s true, but in this case the woman is still being victimized. Only now, it isn’t just the rapist who has victimized her, but also the judge in the case.

This is why so many people don’t press charges when they’re sexually assaulted and why rapes go unreported. Women (and men) who have been raped are told early on that the process of going to court sucks. You’ll be dragged through the mud, made out to be a whore, have your every word questioned, etc. Now add to that even if there’s a conviction it may not mean much, especially if your rapist is a privileged, athletic, white kid.

I get that our justice system is built to presume innocence until guilt is proven, but that doesn’t mean that we hold the accuser guilty in the meantime or instead. In this case, guilt WAS proven. The jury found the rapist guilty of three felony counts.

The whole situation makes me sick and angry beyond words. I’ve been struggling with it for days. If one good thing has come out of this, it’s that a lot of people are talking about it. People are angry. People are demanding action be taken against the judge.

You all know, if you’ve read about my reason for fundraising for BIDMC when I ran the Boston Marathon, that I was sexually assaulted in college. After some consideration I went to university police, who told me they didn’t have jurisdiction because what happened to me happened off campus. So I went to the Boston Police, who completely dropped the ball. I tried following up, but was given the runaround. Nothing was ever done about my report, with my rape kit, or to follow-up with me at all. The frustration I felt (and still feel) about this is nothing compared to what this poor woman is going through knowing that her rapist’s sentence is nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

This is the problem with rape culture. As one Facebook post I saw (and now can’t find) stated: We send our boys to college with pockets full of condoms and we send our girls to college with rape whistles.

The Stanford rapist has stated he will be doing presentations on college campuses about the dangers of drinking and promiscuous sex. This is because despite conviction, he has yet to admit he raped this girl. He chalks it up to them being drunk and, essentially, her being a whore and waking up with regrets.

Let’s get this straight. She was unconscious and unable to consent. When he was approached while raping her, he ran. He knew what he was doing was wrong. He may have been drunk, but he wasn’t too drunk to know what he was doing was wrong (or to remove the girl’s clothing). The argument, “we were both drunk” is not an excuse. This is rape culture.

In case you’re curious, here are 22 more signs we live in a rape culture.

I’ll leave you with some of my favorite Facebook memes from this situation.

rape culture consent

rape culture athlete

rape culture confession

rape culture drunk

rape culture causes

We live in a rape culture. That’s a problem.

Keep fighting,

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    1. // Reply

      Unfortunately, it is. Thanks for reading!

  1. // Reply

    I think there’s so much stigma around sex in the US in general that it’s an uncomfortable topic when it shouldn’t be. I know we never spoke of it in my house and I hate that too many feel they “deserved it” for having made a bad choice about drinking or location. Great awareness builder!!

    1. // Reply

      I was just talking to someone about this. We have to educate our boys and girls about this. The idea that “I must have wanted it” or “I deserved it” are really not okay. I’m so glad that, if nothing else, this situation is sparking a dialogue. We can’t keep ignoring things just because they’re tough or uncomfortable.

  2. // Reply

    Yes! I absolutely hate that this is how it all goes down. People need to take responsibilities for their actions. If being drunk was the source of rape, why do not all drunk people commit rape? Same with guns, same with everything. People have a choice, under the influence or not.
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    1. // Reply

      I agree. Rape is not an accident and being drunk doesn’t cause rape.

  3. // Reply

    This is a great post, and so much more awareness and advocacy needs to be out there around this topic. It angers me so much though that it even needs to be talked about.

    1. // Reply

      I know. I can’t fathom how it isn’t intuitive.

    1. // Reply

      It impacts just about everyone. Unfortunately the people who can do the most about it are impacted less, so little is done. The more we speak up, the better chance we have of seeing real change. I hope so anyway.

    1. // Reply

      It is really sad. Thanks for reading, Julie!

  4. // Reply

    I cannot love this blog post enough. You make the most excellent points, and I’m going to share it all over the place. Yes indeed, the only positive outcome of this rapist’s pathetic, minuscule jail sentence is the fact that everyone is outraged and talking about. Let’s see if we can make a difference to future rape victims. Or hell, let’s see if we can try to reduce the amounts of rape in the first place!!!!
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    1. // Reply

      The saddest thing I’ve seen, and I didn’t see it in time to include on this post, is that this guy will likely still serve more than 97% of rapists because so many of them go unpunished entirely. It’s disgusting. Thank you for reading and for sharing!

  5. // Reply

    I saw a tumblr post that pointed out that drug dealers get longer sentences on average than rapists, even though people ASK them for the drugs, whereas with rape, it’s by definition the opposite.

    1. // Reply

      Ick. Don’t get me wrong, drugs can destroy lives too, but I don’t understand how we became SO up in arms about drugs and let things like rape go totally unpunished (or underpunished).

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    I just listened to a story on NPR about the case that the college student got off lightly because he was an athlete. It is so angering, just can’t get over it!! Thanks for sharing this informative read.
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  7. // Reply

    Great post. What had happened has me extremely upset that I cannot even find the words to express myself.
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  8. // Reply

    You’ve got to be kidding me! Six months????? Jeez, I wonder if the rapist took into account “negatively impacting” the gir;’s future. Crazy world. Thanks so much for sharing this and stepping out!

  9. // Reply

    Stanford is 20 miles from where I grew up and spent most of my life. That case sickens me to no end too. I’m so sorry that that happened to you, and it really saddens me that reporting so often does nothing. This absolutely needs to change.

  10. // Reply

    WELL SAID!!! I still can’t believe this happened. I am so angry… and hearing the anchor read the victim
    s letter I was devastated. Thank god the rapist was banned by US swimming and the judge is now having his cases reviewed. Doesn’t make it right, but at least the public outcry is having some positive effect. I keep thinking about how different the outcome would be if the rapist had been black…
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