Awareness can lead to an end of rape culture


MSNBC, Public Domain

Headlines reporting sexual violence in the media

“Roy Moore is Accused of Sexual Misconduct by a Fifth Woman.”

“Harvey Weinstein Paid off Sexual Harassment Accusers for Decades.”  

These are the headlines flooding the news today: stories of the some of the most powerful men in Hollywood and politics who used their status to sexually assault and harass women. Unfortunately, despite the recent attention these accused men are receiving, sexual misconduct towards women is not new. We live in a society where rape and sexual violence is normalized, and in many cases, normalization is due to a lack of knowledge of what sexual harassment actually is.

“ A lot of people don’t even know what it [sexual harassment] is and how to identify it within a situation,” Savanah Thompson (9) said. “The only thing that is considered sexual harassment and assault is rape. People don’t understand the microaggressions of catcalling; that is sexual harassment and assault too.”

However, not everyone agrees that catcalling is a form of sexual harassment.

“Catcalling is when you’re not recognizing her as a human,” Kaylon Love (12) said. “It [catcalling] can be a form of sexual harassment, but it depends on the person because some people don’t take it offensively.”

Along with a discrepancy of what sexual assault is, rape culture is perpetuated by the belief that the women who claim to be sexually assaulted overreact.

“I’m not going to say that every single thing is overreaction, but it does happen,” Brandon Brown (12) said.

According to the United State’s Department of Justice, sexual assault is “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.” This broad definition covers everything from catcalling-sexual comments without consent-to an unwanted hug to rape. Yet, many people are unaware that this definition even exists.

“We should have better awareness about how this goes on because sometimes as a society we might turn the other cheek about sexual harassment,” Graham Ross (9) said.

The courage of these recently featured women in the news who reported their abuse have generated discussions that educate society about rape culture. Hopefully, their courage will also lead to action to de-normalize sexual assault and harassment because as a society, we can’t afford to turn the other cheek.