“Don’t tell me what to wear, tell them not to rape” is a common response of women when constantly told how to dress in order to avoid rape. Society focuses on teaching women that they have to dress in certain ways in order to not be a target for rape. In our society, if a woman gets raped or sexually assaulted, it is often deemed the fault of the woman for wearing provocative clothing, walking alone, or being under the influence of alcohol. Truth is, women are always a target, nonetheless of their clothing, being accompanied, or if they are consuming alcohol or not. However, why does society predominately blame rape on the victims?
Kumail Nanjiani, a Pakistani-American stand-up comedian, actor and podcast host agrees that society blames the victims instead of the rapists and states that women should be able to be under the influence of alcohol and not have any fear of being raped.
Media is one of the biggest factors that influences and promotes the rape culture. TV shows, music videos, movies, and songs objectify women. By doing this, it makes women seem as if they are not worthy of respect. What does this teach men? This makes it seem socially acceptable for men to view and treat women only as sexual objects. Media portrays women as animals that only ask for sex. Robin Thicke’s song “Blurred Lines” sends this type of message to our society when he says, “… tried to domesticate you but you’re an animal, baby it’s in your nature”. Thicke later says, “Just let me liberate you” because “You know you want it”. According to The Guardian, this song was classified as the most controversial song of the decade. “It promotes a very worrying attitude towards sex and consent,” explained Kirsty Haigh, EUSA’s vice-president of services. This song made women complain on how tired they are of messages that portray women as highly sexualized passive sex objects. They said, “Getting rid of one song won’t solve the problem. It’s a culture of racism and sexism we need to change.”
Thicke’s song is not any different than catcalling, the term used for when call out a woman based upon appearance. Recently, an organization called Hollaback, which advocates to stop street harassment and intimidation, produced a video in which it videotaped a young woman walking around Manhattan for 10 hours. The video shows that strangers yelled obscenities, whistled, sneered, asked for dates, mentioned her body parts, and more at least 108 times in 10 hours. Some even followed her for blocks. This video went viral and produced debates about street harassment.
In a CNN segment, New York based-comedian Amanda Seales and Steven Santagati, a self-proclaimed relationship expert and author of the book The Manual: A True Bad Boy Explains How Men Think, Date, and Mate—and What Women Can do To Come Out on Top, debated the topic to predictable ends. While Seales explained how women feel uncomfortable and harassed when “cat called”, Santagati said that men bolster women’s self-esteem and ego every time they cat call women because “[t]here is nothing more that a woman loves more than to hear how pretty she is”. Seales claimed that women do not go out every day expecting men’s compliments. Besides, Seales said there are appropriate ways to tell a woman that she is pretty instead of whistling at her. Santagati responded “If you don’t like it as a woman, turn around and tell them to shut up. Stand up for yourself. Act like a strong woman in 2014.” What was Santagati’s version of a strong woman? One who is armed; he suggested that women carry a gun. Well ladies, here is your answer, just shoot every man, who “cat calls” you.
In this society, where out of fear of sexual assault, women feel terrified to walk alone because they might be at risk. In this society, women feel uncomfortable walking on the streets because there is always some perfect making offensive comments towards them. Most of all, women are tired of living in a society where they do not feel comfortable because they are always in a position where there is the risk of being sexually assaulted, regardless of their whereabouts. For these reasons, it is time to teach society that rape is not acceptable. It is time for media to stop objectifying women. It is time to stop blaming the victims and start blaming the offenders. It is time for society to stop defending the offenders. It is time for offenders to serve justice. It is time for change.
In the following video, the director Vikas Bahl decided to create a short film in which we visualise a utopia for women, where, unlike today, mistrust and fear don’t dictate actions and decisions.
Bahl, Vikas, and Alia Bhatt. “Going Home: A Film by Vikas Bahl Feat. Alia Bhatt for #VogueEmpower.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.
Catcall Video Goes Viral. N.d. YouTube. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.
“Common Myth’s About Rape”. Rape Crisis-England and Wales. England & Wales, n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2014
Don’t Teach Me How to Dress. Teach Your Son Not to Be a Rapist! Digital image. Our Existence. N.p., 3 Mar. 2014. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.
Eisenberg, Rebecca. Finally! An Anti-Rape Campaign That Isn’t Victim Blame-y. Digital image. Upworthy. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.
Hollaback. “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman.” YouTube, n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2014.
Lynskey, Dorian. “Blurred Lines: The Most Controversial Song of the Decade.” The Guardian. N.p., 13 Nov. 2013. Web.