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Attitudes Surrounding Rape Culture Are Offensive And They Need to Change

 

In light of this week’s events, I find it necessary to continue the conversation over the longstanding debate about rape culture in our country. In case you have not heard, Bill Cosby, the longtime actor, comedian, and formerly “America’s Dad,” was just sentenced to prison for rape.

It was a rape that occurred nearly fourteen years ago and a sentence that will only last three to ten years.  To some, this punishment is much too harsh for a man who holds such a high position in society; but, for the sixty additional women who also came forward, this punishment is nowhere near acceptable.

Part of me is thankful that some sort of justice was finally served. But a larger part of me is outraged that it took fourteen years. This situation is proof of the truly offensive and blasé attitude that people in our country have about rape and assault. To take it one step further, it highlights the offensive attitude towards women in not just our country, but in the rest of the world as well.

Granted, women have made strides in recent years in terms of paving our way in the world. When the system fails us, however, is when a woman accuses someone of rape. She is immediately questioned. She is poked, prodded, and put under a microscope, and every move she makes is scrutinized. It is immediately assumed that she is lying. People will say she is just “crying rape” to get money or attention, or simply because she regrets her sexual encounter or one night stand. The reality, though, is that only two percent of all rape and sex charges are determined to be false. If a woman claims she was robbed, she is automatically believed, but throw in any sort of sexual accusation and she immediately becomes the enemy.

The opposition will claim that people are so hesitant to believe an accusing woman because her story will potentially ruin the reputation of the man she accuses. To those holding this view, I must ask you: what about the woman? Is her life so disposable that you choose to disregard her completely? She, too, has a life that should be valued. She has a reputation that she holds dear.  All of this could be shattered the instant that she is assaulted by a man, and, when she musters up the courage to bravely tell her story, she has become shattered all over again when people refuse to believe her.

Frankly, I am outraged at the retaliation surrounding Bill Cosby’s trial. Specifically, that which is pointed directly towards-you guessed it-the victims. I am further enraged at the harrowing lack of resources for these women, and all women in the future, who choose to come forward with their stories.

I am moved, however, by this win for the #MeToo Movement. The #MeToo Movement first began circulating in 2017 as an effort to prove just how widespread the issue of sexual violence is, especially in the workplace. Multiple celebrities and men of power have been accused through this movement, but it finally gained its first win with the sentencing of Bill Cosby, the first celebrity of the #MeToo era to be put behind bars. Unfortunately, this movement is facing unrelenting backlash because of the assumption that it encourages false allegations.

But remember the two percent? False allegations happen, but they are extremely rare. Sexual violence is not. It is unfathomable just how prevalent it is in our world today, and the reason is this: men, especially those in power, believe that they will not have to answer for their crimes. They have seen countless others before themselves slide by, so they follow suit.

Now, to clear the air, I am not a radical feminist who believes that our society is a patriarchy dominated by powerful men with no regards to their feminine counterparts. I have no vendetta against the male race, nor do I classify the whole as “predators” who need to be brought to justice. I am a firm believer that there are good and wholesome men in the world. I simply am tired of seeing men in power abuse their positions. I am tired of seeing accused men slide by on technicalities. I just want to see a world where a woman can feel completely and utterly safe to come forward.  

To quote a true feminist icon and my personal role model, Mariska Hargitay, via a recent Instagram caption, “The movement to #BelieveSurvivors, #SupportSurvivors, and to #UpholdSurvivors is about bringing justice to ills of the past, listening to the voices of the present, and changing the culture for the future.”

I could not have said it better myself.

So, I urge the few of you who read this to next time consider the woman. Rather than scorning her for ruining a powerful man’s reputation, applaud her for being brave enough to tell her story. Before bombarding her with underhanded questions, shower her with support. Instead of letting her voice disappear into the sea of discarded victims before her, let her voice be heard for once. Change the way the world looks at sexual violence. Be the difference.

I am a freshman Middle Grades Education major. I am a member of Alpha Gamma Delta and the Her Campus Brenau Writing Team!
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