Existenceand effects of rape culture in contemporary American life
Throughoutthe world, sexual violence has become a pervasive problem with younggirls and women being assaulted daily. It is hard to deny theexistence of rape culture in contemporary American life, which ispromoted through stereotypes, ideas, and rape myths. In a rapeculture, environment, sexual violence is treated as the norm, and thevictims become blamed for their assaults. On the other hand, theinstitutions promote impunity, protect rapists, shame victims, anddemand women to sacrifice opportunities, as well as, their freedomsto avoid sexual assault.
Inher book, Harding states that the rape culture has been in existencefor decades, but of late has started to enter the mainstreamdiscourse. She continues to reiterate how the rape culture in thecontemporary America continues through social processes, such asstereotypes, rape myths and misogynistic standards about gender andsexuality (Harding11). The author has exposed how the Law enforcement and the criminaljudicial system in America contribute to rape culture by failing toprotect rape victims and to prosecute sexual assault. First, thejustice system is established in a way that makes sexual assaultvictims to receive treatment as if they are on trial (Harding61).
Evidently,in many reported cases of sexual assault, a majority of assailantsend up not being arrested and prosecuted. This is because thespecialized units such as the prosecutors, law enforcement officers,detectives, and victims’ advocates do not work collaboratively tosupport the rape victims, thus many cases of unsuccessfulprosecutions.
Anotherway the criminal judicial system in America contributes to rapeculture is by losing critical evidence either intentionally andnegligence and this results in unjust outcomes for the victims. Thelaw enforcers failure to believe and respect victims by the termingillusion of false accusations is another way this institutioncontinues to perpetuate a rape culture. Another deadly problem in thesystem is proving the unreasonable doubts fact. This may hindersuccessful prosecution of the attackers since proving beyond areasonable doubt while the case involves two people depend on thecourt’s judgment (Harding103).
Accordingto Harding, the evidence given by the victim should be considered asright, since not many cases are false. The author provides thefamiliar truth that is biting and unrelenting against the legalsystem that trivializes rape, as well as, blame victims do.Consequently, the criminal justice system protects abusers and laysthe responsibility for women and girls to stay away from beingassaulted instead of men being taught on not to attack. However, sheargues that there is a reason for hope, and the rape culture can befixed by first recognizing the problem. Harding further suggests thatpractical changes in reforming the criminal justice system ought tobe made. One example puts into the details is the story of SeemonaSumasar which is described as a “miscarriage of justice” wherethe victim reported her assault and the police did not come to heraid instead they ended up falsely charging her with other crimes(Harding205).
Intheir book, Launiusand Hollyargue that the systems of oppression in our societies that shape ouractions. Therefore, by blaming the victim, the judicial system allowsimpunity for the perpetrator. The victim may be blamed for wearingrevealing clothing or being drunk, and thus, the system expects womenand girls to avoid attending parties or drinking to avoid sexualassault (Launiusand Holly71).
As a result, of the actions where the criminal judicial system inAmerica contributes to rape culture, the rates of arrest for sexualcases are extremely low. This is because some police officers believein rape myths, such as false accusations of rape to get attention,and this can help explain the low rates. Likewise, if the behavior ofthe victim varies from the expectation of police such as crying then,the police officer may believe that the woman may be making a falsereport. The consequences of this to women include great distress tothe victim, and they may become hesitant to report in future.Additionally, the mental health and recovery of the victim becomeslow (Harding11).
Apossible solution to tackling this rape culture is to educate womenmore concerning the realities of rape and the way to be morecautious. On the other hand, promoting media literacy will help inwomen empowerment where the digital world will depict women and girlsin a way that will overcome media based biases (Harding205).
Anothersolution to reduce cases of rape and sexual assault is to makereforms in the criminal justice system. In fact, the offenders mustbe held accountable to avoid a repeat of those crimes. According toLauniusand Holly,the systems of privilege and oppression have a profound effect onindividuals’ lives (Launiusand Holly71). Therefore, every citizen including the legal systems should worktowards increasing arrest and conviction rates by giving support todetectives, health care providers, prosecutors, and victim advocatesand also work together to help the victims` as well as increasesuccessful prosecutions.
Inconclusion, the law enforcers and prosecutors should be trained onhow to deal with sexual assault investigations, especially thepreliminary investigation process that determines the continuation ofthe cases.
Harding,Kate. Askingfor It: Slut-shaming, Victim-Blaming, and How We Can Change America`sRape Culture.Da Capo Press, Incorporated, 2014. Print.
Launius,Christie, and Holly Hassel. ThresholdConcepts in Women`s and Gender Studies: Ways of Seeing, Thinking, andKnowing. 2015. Print.