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A female perspective on rape culture & the media

I need to make a clear statement of where my voice on this matter comes from. Because, to be fair, there can’t and shouldn’t be just one voice on this matter. I am a 30 year old, cisgendered, heterosexual female. I grew up in a middle class Midwestern household. I have experience with sexual assault. I wanted to get that out of the way because, with this topic, experience does cloud one’s judgement.

The first time I ever heard the idea of slut shaming came from this video by Laci Green, in this video. In it, she discusses many logical reasons why slut shaming is wrong and how it perpetuates the idea of a rape culture: if she hadn’t done, wore, or said X she wouldn’t have been raped.

This idea of a rape culture has become somewhat of a buzzword, especially with the string of high-profile rapes and sexual assaults on collage campuses and even our favorite Jello uncle, Bill Cosby.

It seems to me that this idea of a rape culture is very similar to another buzzword of recent history: patriarchy. Rape culture comes out of patriarchy, rape is just an action that is illegal, and patriarchy is just the way the world is. I will tell you, one doesn’t exist without the other.

Why is the news media focused on rape? Because it’s illegal and wrong and everyone can agree with that. Women have made huge strides in home business and work. Heck, Hillary will probably win the nomination for President, and yet the media will be focused on how masculine or feminine her clothes are. Americans embrace and hate that we don’t know what to do with liberated women. We still like traditional gender roles. Yet boys wanna get laid in college, do kinky stuff, and dominate.

I was inspired to write this short piece while reading all the backlash to Sansa Bolton’s (née Stark) rape scene on Game of Thrones. Most people are condemning her rape, or condemning its use as a plot device used for Theon to regain his humanity. I’m not a book reader, so I don’t know how faithful the storyline is to the books. I do have this to say, though: Sansa’s scene was far from glorified–it was a faithful presentation of rape. It was shown as brutal and humiliating. I don’t know what will happen next, nor what sorts of strengths or weaknesses will be shown by Sansa and Theon.  I will say, just as anyone who has been abused, their story isn’t finished. I hope to see Sansa kick ass and take names, but we will see what unfolds next week.

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