Do We Need To Change Our Views on Rape Culture?
A company called AR Wear, originating in the United States demonstrated a new range of underwear that could make it possible for “women and girls to have the power to control the outcome of a sexual assault”, which was mentioned in a detailed article by journalist Cat Sarsfield of The Cosmopolitan magazine (4th November 2013).
The premise of the design was to make the material strong enough to stop forced removal or tearing, therefore leading the potential assaulter to back away in defeat. The outcome resulting from the structure of strong material that tightens around the waist, thighs and the lower abdomen; almost molding to the individual’s shape unlike standard design, leaving it impossible for anyone else but the wearer to know how to remove the item of clothing.
As clever as I found the idea at first, upon discussion over social media sites amongst friends about the construction, I had to question a little further than if it was once again a variation of victim blaming, that it is a result of what women wear that cause the attack, as a friend bluntly put it. If the company knew it was to become so successful, why not expand to alternate the design to suit men, male adolescents and young children? As it is not just women or the female gender that have not been exposed to sexual assault, nor is it just men who commit the crime.
According to the rape research statics of January 2013 via Rape Crisis (www.rapecrisis.org.uk), approximately 85,000 women are subjected to rape in England and Wales every year while over 400,000 women experience sexual assault every year and 1-5 women between the ages of 16 and 59 have witnessed or been involved in sexual violence, and UN Women (www.unwomen.org) who celebrate International Day to End Violence Against Women on 25th November, reveal that 1 in 3 women and girls experience sexual violence in their lifetime, and this is the public information. To find out more, people can read the full report found on The Ministry of Justice (www. justice.gov.uk). On page 19 of An Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales, it was established in a pie chart that 5,778 children are exposed to forced sexual activity, 2,273 men are victims of sexual assault and 1,274 men have reported to have been raped.
It may automatically be questioned as to how the numbers are so low, but the answer is quite simple: these cases are either not reported out of fear of ridicule, smothered by the abuser, or are reported and it is the services that are unable to help, from the lack of funds to support the amount of calls or because the individuals are guilty of ridiculing the victim.
In the past, I have encountered numerous of articles speaking about the male victims of domestic abuse, namely reports via Men’s Advice Line (www.mensadviceline.org.uk) and the National Health Service who revealed that in 2010, 800 male individuals had approached Men’s Advice Line, and that number has increased in the last few years than ever before. Other associates, such as Mankind (www.mankindcouncelling.org.uk) reveal that 3 out of 20 men are affected by sexual violence and show that it doesn’t stop at physical, but there are examples of mental, coercive and manipulative forms of it.
The Guardian very recently followed through in the matter back on 17th July 2013, with their article The rape of men: the darkest secret of war, written by journalist Will Storr. It reports on the hidden truth on what is occurring behind closed doors in Uganda, Chile, Iran, Greece, Kuwait and Croatia, former Soviet Union members and the former Yugoslavia. It is one of the biggest secrets of war, and when we hear about similar stories broadcast over to the United Kingdom of prisoners of war in Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, it is only a slice on the reality.
Here is one of the featured stories; about a Ugandan counselor’s own discovery from a client, one of the braver victims, where such an act is hushed up not only by the perpetrator and the victim, but by local aid agencies, human right defenders and even the United Nations. Inside a diary was a man’s story about an attempted escape of the Congo civil war, where he and his wife were separated and he was captured by rebels, held hostage for three years and was raped three times every day. He witnessed other captives being mistreated in similar ways, one of them so badly damaged that he passed away, right in front of this reported victim.
The counselor, Eunice Owiny, known to locals as “Mama Eunice” admitted that this admittance was hard to take in, not being able to believe that a man or men in general can be victimized as easily as women or children, and has understood that male victims need to be taken on as much as the female victims.
Ironically, Eunice Owiny worked for a Refugee Law Protection movement for her local university, and there was a recent case brought my attention last week by Sum Of Us (www.sumofus.org) about a British immigration removal centre, called Yarl Wood’s, located in Bedfordshire, owned by Serco. Young women and adolescent girls who go there in the hope of being given a place in this country are instead being detained, sexually assaulted and raped. Their attempts of trying to inform the leading company, Serco or the police about what happened, and this includes any witnesses, are being ignored and deportation is their punishment, with very few staff members penalized for their actions.
Sum of Us concluded that 56% of female asylum seekers and 70% of women in detention are rape survivors, and 57% of women in detention have no lawyers.
Maneuvering to the subject of pedophilia, addressing the 5,778 cases, On Health (www.onhealth.com) when speaking on the subject of child sexual abuse state that it is the third frequently reported child mistreatment, offering the highest of 10% of all cases. It can extend to non-physical, voyeurism, exhibitionism, prostitution and pornography and this can occur unclothed. There is also a familiar urgency to keep the victim’s silence, such as the case of the male Uganda victim; this is known as the “conspiracy of silence”.
The conspiracy of silence is a common denominator, as every case I have listed addresses the problematic situations every single gender and age has to deal with when they are subjected to forced intercourse. The individual who blindly makes these people do their bidding. Rape and the inability to resist in touching someone intimately without their consent is a psychological reaction, an uncontrollable instinct. In the sexual offender’s eyes, gender and age has no barriers.
This is the issue, this is why anti-rape undergarments to make women feel superficially safe is not enough, because as so many rape victims have stated, it is not what they wear that caused the act, or how they portrayed themselves to that person, that person did not care. It is only an excuse, a boast and a way for society to push the subject under a metaphorical rug. The attention should be brought to the one committing it. Why do they get the urge? What causes the person to get the urge? Culture has a keen way of it being the norm for a man to have no excuse as to why he responds to some situations, but with a woman, there always has to be something wrong, and we excuse her behavior with a behavioral, mental or psychological problem.
Men, being just as much as people and individuals as a woman or child needs to given the same treatment, as it is the status quo that not every man rapes, though there is the potential. Something has to awaken that urge, like everyone is capable of murder, but not everyone can bring themselves to do it.
There was an article two years ago, covered USA Today 30 (www.usatody30.usatoday.com), about a study on sexism, and male and female students volunteered and were placed into two groups. The study was covered by the journal called Sage, under the subject Psychology of Woman Quarterly (www.sagepub.com/journals/). One group was given the task of recording every day activities, while the other was asked to observe how many times they spotted sexism within said activity, and it concluded that the majority was sexist in value.
Immediately, the reader would think that it will be the men responsible, but this study revealed that sexist ideology is found in the female gender, equaling the balance. For example, a male student had vocalized women should stay in the kitchen, and a female student objected to a man opening a door for them, as they saw it as being rescued in a disaster. The latter situation is considered “benevolent sexism” over the former. USA Today furthered the conclusion of the article with the study’s authors stating that when discussing what they had discovered with the volunteers, not only were the men enlightened on their subconscious behavior, and there was a chance that they could learn to be empathetic towards the topic in the near future, the authors noticed that when placed into the same room, the volunteers disagreed on what sexism truly was, as they each had their own view point.
I use this study to enlighten and strengthen my point in this article, that as adults, regardless of gender, men and women should be held responsible if they ever commit harm. As previously surmised at the beginning, women are not just the victims of sexual assault, violence or rape, but can act upon the same impulse, as a male perpetrator can. It’s shocking, but true. This is the cause of the many domestic violence cases of heterosexual men, as study shows, female partners can become physical, psychological and grow as far as using financial abuse. Additionally, there are cases of male victims of forced marriages, as mentioned on Men’s Advice Line. 15% of forced marriage victims are men, and this does not stop at their sexual preference or nationality.
for Interact Magazine (www.interact-uk.org.uk)
Subject: Rape culture