Rape culture blames women in a variety of ways. It often challenges their lifestyles and behaviors to infer that they are somehow responsible for rape and sexual assault; or normalizes, trivializes, and defends rape. Rape culture and victim blaming is absurd since we are unlikely to blame a victim of robbery for carrying cash and credit cards, or because they simply left their house and someone later broken in.
A recent article shows just how devastating victim blaming and rape culture can be.
In 2004, Pittsburgh woman Sara Reedy was raped at gunpoint in the local gas station where she worked. After the rape, her attacker also emptied the cash register. When Reedy reported the crime, the detective that interviewed her didn’t believe her; neither did some of the hospital staff. Reedy was thrown into jail for supposedly stealing the money herself, but was later released on bail.
Reedy lost her job and was turned down by a local victim’s help center when she sought help and support, while old friends started spreading rumors about her. But the man that raped her committed other crimes, and attacked more women, and was finally arrested and sentenced. Reedy sued the police department, and was awarded $1.5 million for being mistreated; she has also spoken before Congress, where her testimony helped change how the federal government defines rape. Reedy’s success in court is a victory in itself but means very little compared to the suffering she had to endure.
Rape culture is everywhere and is devastating to the women who are not believed, ridiculed, or told to “just get over it.” Rape culture also sees victims being blamed while rapists are able to keep committing sexual assaults. Victim blaming is also taking new forms as we have previously reported in regards to perpetrators appearing to use new ways of getting away with rape, such as claiming sexsomnia.
Fuck Rape Culture Sign shared by flickr user xoder under a creative commons license.