Consent Culture Salon
As many of you know we live in a society that deals with extremely high rates of sexual violence and consent violations. While many people think of rape and sexual assault as something that happens by strangers and includes violence, a large proportion of these events take place in our homes, by our friends, families and romantic partners.
The stats are high- one in four women in north america will be assaulted in their lifetimes
According to U.S. Department of Justice, approximately 4/5 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim and 50% of all rape/sexual assault incidents were reported by victims to have occurred within 1 mile of their home or at their home.
So what is rape culture?it’s a term coined in the 70s to describe the ways in which society blamed victims of sexual assault and normalized male sexual violence. I would argue that it refers to female sexual violence also. we see this in our different attitudes to females who are convicted of statutory rape.
"a complex set of beliefs that encourage male sexual aggression and supports violence against women. It is a society where violence is seen as sexy and sexuality as violent. In a rape culture, women perceive a continuum of threatened violence that ranges from sexual remarks to sexual touching to rape itself. A rape culture condones physical and emotional terrorism against women as the norm . . . In a rape culture both men and women assume that sexual violence is a fact of life, inevitable . . . However . . . much of what we accept as inevitable is in fact the expression of values and attitudes that can change. "
"Rape culture includes jokes, TV, music, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words and imagery, that make violence against women and sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe that rape is inevitable. Rather than viewing the culture of rape as a problem to change, people in a rape culture think about the persistence of rape as “just the way things are.”
As you know california has now passed the law to mean that yes means yes which is a huge step in encouraging and legalizing a consent culture.
What is consent culture?
Consent culture is a culture in which asking for consent is normalized and condoned in popular culture. It is respecting the person’s response even if it isn’t the response you had hoped for. We will live in a consent culture when we no longer objectify people and we value them as human beings. Consent culture is believing that you and your partner(s) have the right over your own bodily autonomies and understanding that each of you know what is best for yourselves.
Living in a consent culture means not feeling weird or embarrassed to ask someone if they want to move forward. It means not feeling bad if you aren’t interested anymore. Open dialogue and mutual respect for your partner(s) and yourself will create a safe space for the both (or all) of you.
When we support rape culture we are letting everyone down. Let’s not forget that it is not only the victims of sexual violence that are hurt. Their friends, their families, their children are hurt. And perps of sexual violence are also hurt.
Despite yes means yes, everywhere we see the old messages that victims are at least partly to blame for what’s happened to them:
“don’t walk alone at night”, “don’t drink too much” and “pay close attention to your surroundings.”
rape-prevention gear that includes items like “anti-rape” underwear and nail polish that detects date rape drugs. These have all lead to a backlash, from put the burden on those at risk, to let’s blame the perpetrators. I have found myself thinking things like ‘well were you flirting with him? I am sure we have all thought these things which is a sign that we have internalized aspects of rape culture.
Here I want to suggest that it is on all of us, as individuals and as a group, to create the world in which we wish to live. What does that look like? How do we work against these narratives that we have internalised after a lifetime of indoctrination.
I want us to think about what kind of language we use and how that might help or hinder
A study in the Lancet surveyed 10,178 men from six countries. It did not use the word rape, instead it asked have you ever:
“forced a woman who was not your wife or girlfriend at the time to have sex” or having “had sex with a woman who was too drunk or drugged to indicate whether she wanted it”,
Reasons given were: expressed sexual entitlement (statements endorsed by 73% of men across the region; table 2), followed by entertainment seeking (59%), anger or punishment (38%), and alcohol or substance use (27%; table 2).
What does this tell us? Many people who have committed sexual violence, aren’t even aware that they have done so.