Rape. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women will be raped at some point of their lives.
Rape culture? The idea that a woman holds some responsibility for her objectification by men. That she’s somehow responsible for what this objectification causes a man to do. We see it everyday. As women, we live it. We even have the nerve to tell our young girls that affection from men comes in the form of harassment such as pinching or teasing.
“Don’t wear this or you’re asking for it.” “If you just would’ve danced a little less seductively…” “Well, maybe you shouldn’t have had that many drinks.”
In this male-dominated society where men are given the majority of the responsibility, somehow, when it comes to sexual assault, the majority of the responsibility falls on the woman.
For all of you religious churchgoers who look out into the world as if the world never enters the church, don’t be so naive. The rape culture exists in the church too.
Not too long ago I was at church for a rehearsal. I wore a dress and covered my waist with a shirt, yet was pulled to the side by another woman of the church to be told my outfit was inappropriate. She then proceeded to say that if there had only been women at the rehearsal, I would have been fine, but because men were there I was inappropriately dressed. Now using wisdom, I made sure to verify my outfit was appropriate with my spiritual covering who was also at this rehearsal. She told me I was fine.
To tell a woman that she is solely responsible for the way men view her and how they act towards her is exactly what rape culture is. When are we going to say that men play a role in the way that they think about women when they look at them? When will men be solely responsible for their thoughts and actions?
If what I was wearing that day would have been church appropriate in a congregation of women, then it is just as appropriate in a congregation of men. Oh, and what about homosexuality? If a woman is attracted to me based on what I am wearing am I still dressed appropriately or am I all of a sudden inappropriately dressed? I am not responsible for what men choose to do with their thoughts. I am not responsible for a man not being able to control his actions. HE is responsible and only him. I am only responsible for presenting myself in a way that pleases God. I am NEVER responsible for someone assaulting me because of what I am wearing.
Instead of only telling our daughters and sisters to change what they are wearing as a result of men, we need to start addressing the mindset men have in regards to how they look at women and what they do about these thoughts. Maybe instead of saying “change your outfit” to women, we say “change your mindset” to men.
Men, take responsibility for your thoughts and actions.
Women, be beautiful and love the body you are born with. Dress in a way that makes you happy and is uplifting for yourself. Dress in a way that pleases God and gives your spirit peace. You are not responsible for any sexual assault directed towards you. YOU ARE NEVER RESPONSIBLE. So hold your head high and love every inch of yourself. Your body is beautiful and deserves to be respected and cherished.
We must hold men to a higher standard of thinking. We must tell men that they are the only ones responsible for their actions. THAT is the change that needs to happen. Only then will rape culture find its necessary descent from our present to our past.