USA Today/Indy Star
Stanford University student and Olympic hopeful swimmer Brock Turner was convicted on three felony counts for raping a 20-year-old woman on campus and was sentenced to only four months in a county jail because, as the judge put it, “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him.” Maybe you saw the T-shirts that — parodying MasterCard’s marketing tag line — called taking drunk women home “priceless.” Or the recent attempt to ban skinny jeans to stop boys from teasing girls for wearing “tight” pants. Or the banners fraternity members hung on their houses to proclaim themselves “freshman daughter drop-off” zones. You’ve seen headlines that call rape “sex,” as if it were consensual. You’ve heard song lyrics that basically say “no means yes.” You’ve read about worries that a rape conviction will ruin an athlete’s future, as opposed to the survivor’s. And about celebrities who are given a pass, over and over again.
That’s rape culture. It’s not a new concept. It’s the toxic mix of myths, excuses and justifications that surround — and perpetuate — sexual violence. The fact that rape culture is now understood as a thing is a good thing. A game-changer, in fact.
But what’s increasingly important is that we understand it correctly. Which means that we need to understand its role in our everyday lives.