World Affairs Council of Harrisburg

In the time you read this article, a woman will be assaulted

By: Camera Bailey – 2021 Summer Intern

Every 68 seconds. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) says every 68 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. In the time that it takes for you to read this article, it is likely someone in the United States will experience sexual violence. This is an issue that many people think does not affect them, but it may hit closer to home than you know.

Rape culture is fueling the fire of these actions. Rape culture happens when society’s prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse. It involves:

  • Blaming the victim
  • Trivializing sexual assault by saying things like boys will be boys
  • Tolerance of sexual harassment
  • Publicly scrutinizing a victim’s dress, mental state, motives, and history
  • Assuming only promiscuous women get raped
  • Teaching women to avoid getting raped instead of teaching men not to rape

Rape culture makes sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe rape is inevitable.

This is happening in central Pennsylvania. Earlier this year, a student from Cumberland Valley High School published a post saying: “Rape is inevitable; just relax and enjoy it.” It spread through social media and eventually was covered by some news outlets.

As a woman, whenever I saw this post I felt like I was punched in the gut. When I heard other people defending the abuser, it felt like a punch in the face.

While this was a social media post and that was reported, I have heard similar expressions from other people on the streets or in hallways.

Lines like, “What was she wearing” and “She didn’t say no” are often used to place blame on the victim instead of the perpetrator. This is another strong aspect of rape culture. It makes victims feel as though this is normal, that they need to “cover up” so as to not be sexually assaulted or harassed.

Instead of teaching women how to avoid being raped, we should instead teach men not to rape. Teaching consent and proper bodily autonomy will help victims come forward at a younger age and help them understand the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching.

These lessons start from the moment a child is born. Instead of forcing a child to give someone a hug or a kiss even when they feel uncomfortable, listen and ask if they would like to give a high five instead. Respect their boundaries. Parents should not only allow children to set their own boundaries, but they should be open and honest about sex education, answering questions and providing support as they grow up.

Stopping rape culture starts with each one of us setting new standards for behavior and refusing to tolerate the boys will be boys coverup of violence against women.

Camera Bailey wrote this opinion piece while interning for the World Affairs Council of Harrisburg and the PA Media Group. It was published here.

Camera Bailey

Camera Bailey

Camera Bailey is a rising senior at Cumberland Valley High School. She is in twelve clubs along with being part of three ambassadorship programs. Many of these programs like CV Amnesty, Overcome Together, and Defenders of Wildlife are trying to institute a change from a local to an international level. Camera has career aspirations of becoming an activist or policymaker, so she wants to understand how people around the world face different challenges in order to better help both those here at home and communities around the globe. She is most passionate about women’s rights and lgbtq+ rights.

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