It took me a long time to discover that rape culture existed. It is not something the typical parent teaches his/her child about just like he/she would talk about the Golden Rule– and maybe that is part of the problem. In a study of 6,159 students at 32 different American colleges, 1 in 12 men “admitted to committing acts that met the legal definitions of rape,” but 84% of these men negated that their acts constituted rape. Awareness of the definition of rape is key to combating rape culture.
Because rape is an issue very inextricably bound to one’s morals, rape education must start at home–at an earlier age than one may think. If your son or daughter is old enough to have the notorious “sex talk,” then he/she is also old enough to have the “rape talk.” In a survey of preteen boys and girls aged 11 to 14, they had all already formed ideas on the acceptability of rape. All these ideas were conditional. When given the condition that there had been past sexual experiences, 31% of boys and 32% of girls said that rape, in this case, was acceptable. Under the circumstances that “the boy spent a lot of money on the girl,” 41% of girls and 51% of boys said that rape was okay. If the couple had been dating for more than six months, then 47% of girls and 65% of preteen boys said that the rape was okay. And if the couple was married, 87% of boys and 79% of girls said that rape was okay.
This study shows that as early as age 11, American children are learning that men are entitled to sex from a woman like biological birthrights if he buys her enough gifts or waits long enough. Notice that none of these questions needed have anything to do with what the woman may be wearing. The provocative nature of the woman’s dress need not be addressed because as long as the man is entitled, through the buying her with material gifts and attention, to his sexual satisfaction, both the individual woman’s consent and her dress are irrelevant in the face of a much larger rape culture.
Out of all American rape victims, 60% blame themselves to the point that they never report their rapes, while 97% of rapists “will never spend a day in jail.” Rape victims need to know that the only fault is with our culture, and not with the level of their sobriety, the height of their heels, or the length of their skirts. Rapists need to know that they are rapists. Rapists are not psychological enigmas with wild disorders for which doctors have yet to find treatment. They are only victims of a larger rape culture, and of parents who do not thoroughly warn them against not making victims of others.