When there is a rape case in a newspaper, how often do you hear the phrases ‘she was probably asking for it’; ‘she knew that if he bought her drinks, she is supposed to sleep with him’; ‘she was wearing a short skirt, that is definitely asking for it,’ to mention but a few. Rape apologists often utter these phrases and what they do is called perpetuating rape culture.
Rape culture argues that a woman is the guilty party, either because of the way she was dressed or because of what she did to provoke the man. Rape culture is a sociological concept for a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalised due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality. Behaviours commonly associated with rape culture include victim-blaming, slut-shaming, sexual objectification, trivializing rape, denial of widespread rape, refusing to acknowledge the harm caused by sexual violence or some combination of these. Because of this, women who are victims tend to blame themselves because of what happened and as a result, more victims do not come forth because of these statements. Entire societies have been alleged to propagate rape. These include telling women who are victims of rape that they deserved it because they were wearing a short skirt and or that they went looking for it because of letting a man buy them drinks. Because society has made it normal to accuse women of being the instigators of rape, society has then used it as an excuse to prey on victims who were raped to blame their dress code on why they were raped.
This is then the notion that women are fighting. A social ill that has been normalised by patriarchy and has oppressed women into silence for so long. When a woman is raped and is blamed for it, victims of sexual assault who then go through the same thing will not come forth because of comments society makes regarding rape victims.
There is no human being on earth that would sign up for rape. It is an invasive and traumatic experience.
• Frieda Mukufa’s lifestyle section concentrates on women-related issues and parenting every Friday in the New Era newspaper. She also specialises in editing research proposals, proofreading as well as content creation.