RED ZONE: Hello, my name is not ‘slut’!

Hi My Name Is borderedIn a perfect world, rape and sexual assault victims would not be associated with terms like “slut” and “whore” and “asking for it.” But then again, in a perfect world, rape would not be a problem we would be facing on a daily basis. The situation has gotten so bad that one in every four women face sexual assault during the four years of their college career alone. Why are the numbers this stark?

Rape culture exists in our community. We perpetuate it. It is everyone’s fault. It is so deeply ingrained in our social lives that we have become blind to how we all help it fester and worsen.

Rape is almost never about lust. Rape is about exuding power over someone else. Rape functions to make the victim feel helpless and alone. It is to feel in control of someone else’s personhood.

This is where the public comes in. We give the assaulter even more power by blaming the victim, shaming the victim and trivializing the violence against them. By saying things like the victim  “was asking for it” or was “leading the perpetrator on,” we give the rapist the power they seek when he or she commits the act in the first place.

We live in a world that normalizes and trivializes rape. So what’s the result? Rape culture. Rape culture describes a society in which sexual violence is normalized because of our backward views on gender, sex and sexuality. Women and men both — but women especially — are daily victims of it.

In this way, it’s normal to trivialize rape. “What was she wearing?” and “Why did she drink that much?” are uttered far too often when a woman is the victim of sexual violence. Rape culture teaches us that the natural state of a woman is to be raped, and the natural state of a man is to rape. To be clear, men are the victims of sexual violence too. And while women are predominantly victimized, the lines get blurrier every day.

Stop blaming the victim. No one asks to be raped. No one has the right to rape.