Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

11 November 2009

Living in a culture of rape - From AWEARNESS

Originally posted at the AWEARNESS blog:

Our culture is still in a state of shock over the gang rape of a 15-year old girl outside her homecoming dance last week. But what is even more upsetting to me than the news of this crime is the type of responses I have seen regarding her attackers and the victim-blaming. Fellow students (and administrators, and people who don't know the victim or have any real information on the subject) are saying the rape is the victim's fault because she was drinking, and that the rapists themselves are not to blame for their actions.

What should shock us is not only the victim-blaming taking place here, but also that this is not an isolated incident. It is not just an American tragedy. Rape is used a tool of fear around the world, and not just as a weapon in a declared war either. In the UK two 10-year old boys are accused of raping an 8-year old girl. In India, a tourist guide attempted to rape a 14-year old. Rape is a not rare occurrence in South Africa's high schools.

My reason for pointing out that rape happens everywhere in the world is not to belittle what happened outside that homecoming dance or to lessen the lifetime of guilt I hope the bystanders carry, but to say that it is not just our society, our kids, or even our problem (it is those things, but it is also more than that). Rape is a global issue that has even grandmothers are trying to protect themselves.

This is what is meant by living in a culture of rape. Each time a rape happens and we try to find blame in the victim, we continue the cycle. When we dismiss rape as not being "our problem," we continue the cycle. Each time we talk about rape as a result of sexual desire, we continue the cycle. Rape is about power, not just about sex.

Until we can get that first step down pact - rape is not only about sex, but power - then our culture of rape will continue to engulf us into a darkness too scary to comprehend.


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