The Problem with Rape Culture and Sexual Harassment in America

The Problem with Rape Culture and Sexual Harassment in America


Houda Eazizayene

Professor Fechner

English V02

4 April 2018

The Problem with Rape Culture and Sexual Harassment in America

Every day, a shocking amount of women experience sexual harassment or the effects of rape culture. The only way we can understand rape culture in our society is through an understanding of the history of the culture, and how it has been enforced. Rape culture can happen in different places and ways in the United States of America. One example is sexual harassment in the workplace, which is an issue when women deal with sexual comments, advancements, or abuse. This harassment can come from a co-worker or a boss. This is what we call a hostile work environment, some women talk about it, but some stay silent out of fright or embarrassment. Because sexual harassment and rape culture have a negative impact on women and society, it is important not to keep victims silent or blame them for what happened.

Before moving forward, we must define what sexual harassment is, which, defined by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an unwelcome behavior that can be verbal, nonverbal, or physical, such as but not limited to, “asking about sexual fantasies, preferences, or history, actual or attempted rape or sexual assault, unwanted deliberate touching, leaning over, cornering, or pinching, unwanted sexual teasing, jokes, remarks, or questions, touching an employee’s clothing, hair, or body and giving personal gifts” (United Nations 1-2). I have a friend that has been sexually harassed by her boss. During a dinner meeting, they were talking about work when he started to touch her hand and shoes. He asked her if they could go and watch a movie at his house. She said she was very disappointed about his misbehavior and she didn’t know if she could report it or not. I told her she should. This is just one example of inappropriate professional behavior that happens every day.

Rape culture happened because society grew comfortable with sexual harassment. According to Marshal University, “rape culture is an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture” (n.p.). The rape is a crime, trauma; it affects the victims for the rest of their lives. If the victims do not get help, they may end up with depression, suicidal thoughts or anxiety and feel ashamed of themselves. Inside of the victims there is fear for the future, fear to get married or to have a partner, and fear to have sex. Saying that it is the women’s fault, judging their clothes as sexy, saying that the victims are drunk, making excuses for the rapist and blaming the victims are all bad habits for our society and encourage rape culture.

According to Crystal Jackson, a former family therapist who has evolved into a “spinner of stories and dreamer of dreams,” there are 45 things to do to stop rape culture, which should be applied to society (Elephant Journal). The first thing is to keep our hands to ourselves. We have to understand the concept that my body is mine; it does not belong to anybody else. We have to stop saying that the rape culture is okay, and that it should not be normalized. We cannot tease a friend or use inappropriate jokes to make it sound okay. In addition, if someone approaches you or someone else inappropriately, the right thing to do is to report the situation and not keep it to yourself. We cannot give a predator excuses for their behavior, and we cannot use the phrase ‘asking for it’ (Jackson). We have to change the ideas that are connected to the rape culture, and we need to teach the idea of respecting each other, so we can have a safe and nice environment in which both men and women do not have to worry about rape.

The concepts of rape culture and sexual harassment can be understood and discussed, and then a conversation can be had about how to solve the issues that face women every day at work or in public places. We need to come together as a community with solutions that could resolve the problem. According to the YouTube video “Rape Culture,” it shows young people, male and female, expressing their opinions about the rape culture that blames victims. They claim society should educate people not to rape (2:30). It is important not to make insensitive jokes or tease the victims. We should approach the victims with respect and a positive attitude to help them with recovery.

According to Kate Harding, creative writer and Former Assistant Director of the Women’s Resource Center at Cornell University, in the book Asking for It, it is important not to judge women about their clothes or the way they act so we don’t encourage the rapist’s behavior. The author says, “they blame the victims for their rape, express a disbelief in claims of rape, exonerate the perpetrator, and allude that only certain types of women are raped” (Harding 22). Harding is a sought after speaker for a college audience on feminist issues, including the issue of rape culture. In her book, Harding shares some myths about rape culture such as, “‘Date rape’ is just sex that a woman regrets next morning” (6). This idea is harmful for women because they place blame on them when they are victims.

Sexual harassment is common in schools, too, according to Equal Rights Advocates Group. Sexual harassment can be requests for sexual favors, unwelcome sexual behavior that is bad enough, or happen often enough to make you feel uncomfortable. It happens in elementary schools and universities including Ventura College. According to a public announcement by the Ventura College Police, on February 15, 2018, “a female student was approached by a Hispanic male driving a gray Scion” (Chief Justice). He exposed himself to her, and she reported the incident to the health office. The campus police were notified, they found the suspect in the parking lot, and he was arrested by the campus police and then taken to jail. The students and the staff in the college do not feel safe because it disrupts the learning environment. My reaction to the article was shock; I do not feel safe in the campus, because it happened during the afternoon. The college should educate the students by putting posters as awareness and education about sexual harassment. Ventura College Campus Police suggest that we should always be aware of our surroundings; we should not be distracted by activities, such as talking on the phone or listening to music, and to try to walk with a group.

The President of the United States of America is also a participant in rape culture, which shows how common it is. According to an article in the New York Times, it states that Billy Bush recorded a video of Donald Trump in a bus in 2005, using vulgar words about women, how he seduced married women, and saying that when women know that you’re star they let you do anything to them (1:20). All the conversation that was recorded was about sexual harassment, and he seems proud of what he did. On October 7, 2016 during the presidential election, Mr. Donald Trump apologized for the video, but he mentioned that he had conversation with Mr. Bill Clinton on the golf course and that he did worse than him. By comparing his actions to Bill Clinton, President Trump is attempting to lessen the impact of his sexual harassment. Still what president Donald Trump did is inacceptable and it is wrong. If other men harass women, it does not give him the right to harass women, as well. We need to have education from the top to the bottom if we really want to see change in our country.

There are some women that let men, like Donald Trump, take advantage of them because of their money or social status. Generally, these women give a bad reputation to other women in our society. They can be seen as greedy to get to certain positions of power and wealth from men. There are some women who encourage people like Donald Trump to say what he says, because they want to benefit from his riches. Therefore, not all women are victims. It is important that women are honest and not materialistic. On the contrary, women also have a responsibility for preventing sexual harassment and rape culture. They have to resist even though they are poor; money is not everything, because if you lose your dignity, what else do you have? Their real power comes from their voice, and not their money.

Rape culture and sexual harassment are common problems in American society. Rape culture is blaming the victims for being raped by making jokes, teasing the victim, or not believing her. Rape is always against the law. Also, many people believe that rape is when a stranger rapes you, but anyone who forces someone to have sex is rape, including a friend, partner, or husband. Sexual harassment is when someone talks inappropriately about sex, gestures, or makes the other person feel uncomfortable. That is a big problem, and we have to fix it from the top; Mr. President Donald Trump should be held accountable for his inappropriate behavior and be a good example and a good leader for our country. To prevent rape culture and sexual harassment, people should be more educated on how to protect them self from rape, and in case they are raped, they should be helped as much as they can. Starting from kids in elementary schools to adults in universities, society needs to communicate that this is a problem. Parents, too, need to talk to their kids about it. Ways that the community can prevent further harm include making posters, speaking up about it, and creating organizations that promote awareness to the problem and give support to victims, friends, and family. In fact, organizations in general should offer more educational materials in the work environment. This will make it safer for all the employees and lessen the amount of sexual harassment in the workforce, which in turn could be financially beneficial for companies by reducing sexual harassment lawsuits. As a society we have to come together to end rape culture and sexual harassment; our safety and success depend on it.

 

 

 

Works Cited

“About: Crystal Jackson.” Elephant Journal, https://www.elephantjournal.com/author/crystal-jackson/. Accessed 17 April 2018.

Harding, Kate. Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture – and What We Can Do About It. Da Capo Press, 2015.

Jackson, Crystal. “Here’s 45 Things We Can Do Right Now to Stop Rape Culture & Misogyny.” Elephant Journal, 17 Oct. 2017, www.elephantjournal.com/2017/10/heres-45-things-we-can-do-right-now-to-stop-rape-culture-misogyny/. Accessed 22 Mar. 2018.

Justice, Joel. “Timely Notification Bulletin.” Ventura County College District Police Department, 15 Feb. 2018. Print. 22 Mar. 2018.

“Transcript: Donald Trump’s Taped Comments About Women.” The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/08/us/donald-trump-tape-transcript.html. Accessed 17 April 2018.

“What is Rape Culture?” YouTube, uploaded by The Birds and The Bees NS, 4 Oct. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=akA_zBpU9Qs.

“What is Sexual Harassment.” United Nations, http://www.un.org/womenwatch/osagi/pdf/whatissh.pdf. Accessed 17 April 2018.

Women’s Center. “Marshall University.” Women’s Center, Marshall University, www.marshall.edu/wcenter/sexual-assault/rape-culture/.

 

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

+ There are no comments

Add yours