Headlines in American Rape Culture

This isn’t a current events blog. Besides the fact that American news networks are some of the most polarizing media entities I’m aware of, I don’t want to write the kind of blog that merely offers predigested punditry of alleged events. But the events of the last couple weeks have weighed heavily on my heart, as well they should. I cannot just bury my sorrow and outrage, I feel the need to share it, to spread the anger that leads to action. I hope you are made angry by these events as well.

The first event was the Steubenville rape and its subsequent coverage. One of my friends directed me to a blog post which pretty much summarizes my views on CNN and the other news networks who took the guilty verdict as an opportunity to remind Americans that we live in a culture which undervalues survivors of sexual assault in favor of who their rapists ‘could have been.’

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Consent: Know what it is; know what it isn’t. (Photo credit: Kristen Althoff)

The second event (which, in my awareness, was really the first), was the beginning of senate hearings on U.S. military rape. On one hand, I was pleased that these hearings were happening. On the other hand, I was frustrated that it has taken us this long to zero in this ugly and unacceptable part of American military culture. Do not misread me, I have great respect for anyone who puts their life at risk for a greater cause (even if I don’t always agree with that cause). I appreciate the men and women who enlist as members of the American Armed Forces. But I cannot overlook the complexity of military culture, and unfortunately that means acknowledging the attendant rape culture, misogyny, and machismo culture that endangers both men and women and keeps them from reporting, and receiving justice for, sexual assault.

‘Rape culture’ may be a buzz word, but its recurrent usage should not blind us to its genuine relevance. The reason why it’s popping up everywhere is because organizations have finally met with success in their efforts to harness the media for awareness-raising and action. (Most notably with the independent film The Invisible War, more info available here.) Out of respect for these efforts I’ll be leaving some pertinent links below.

I’ve been mulling over some thoughts on how my ideological journey has affected my view of sexuality, and how the religious culture I was raised both failed and succeeded to raise me with constructive sexual mores. Before I dig into that bag of compost, however, I want to share this–a blog post that has given me hope for the future of consent in American culture, and an inspiring vision of the mother I hope to be one day.

Primary Information:

Archived livecast of Senate Hearings  (You’ll need to skip to approximately 0:55:00 in the first video.)

Background Information:

  1. Pre-summary of Senate hearings by The Daily Beast
  2. Opinion piece on events surrounding Senate hearings from the New York Times
  3. Military Rape Crisis Center
  4. The Invisible War (Official website of the documentary that helped bring attention to this issue)
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