A pervasive culture of apathy
“I know you want it, because you’re a good girl.”
I had no problem singing along to Robin Thicke’s jazzy summer anthem. I was attracted to the sound and the lyrics as soon as I heard them stream through my radio. It wasn’t until I got back to campus and back to work with the WHO Speaks team that I actually heard the lyrics for what they are: an excellent example of rape culture.
I’ve had this argument with many friends, many times over, as I did my best to explain the notion of rape culture. Many would say that people, not song lyrics, are the ones actually committing the rape. So why get all worked up about lyrics like Robin Thicke’s?
Many would say that advertisements featuring nude women have become so commonplace that they’re almost harmless. So why try to point out the difference in how men and women are used in commercial advertising?
Many would say that the slogan “no is the new yes” is on a pizza box—people aren’t even thinking about rape when they’re eating a pizza. So why try to point out problems that aren’t even there?
Many would argue not only that a drunk girl is asking to be taken advantage of, but also that the media is right to lament the lost futures of the two boys accused of rape. So why even focus on the idea of victim blaming?
If rape is the actual problem, why attack the little things instead of correcting the larger issue at hand?
Yes, rape is a problem. It’s a huge problem. But what helps perpetuate rape and its aftermath are all of the little things we do, say and condone that are a part of our culture and, by extension, a part of us.
I’ve previously tried my best to not be nit picky and always point out things that offend me in conversation. But becoming desensitized to things that help perpetuate rape culture, objectify women or encourage victim blaming ultimately put us all at risk of not being as responsive as we should be when we hear of situations of sexual misconduct happening to our peers.
I used to carry around my own sense of invincibility. Rape statistics, sexual assault reports: They were just numbers. Not real girls, not my friends, not me.
But in just a year and a half, I have heard more stories and seen more tears than I would have ever imagined entering college as a sheltered freshman.
WHO Speaks debuted our rape culture campaign last week, and some of the first counter-arguments included the idea that a poster campaign doesn’t do anything to initiate change or spark a movement.
No, we can’t stop rape or eliminate rape culture with a few posters. But what we can give you is simple food for thought. Whether it be something you glance at once in the cold waiting at the bus stop, see as you’re walking across the bulletin boards in your hall or see garnering likes on Facebook, the poster is aimed to bring awareness, spark discussion and, more importantly, reveal the nature of rape culture.
That way the next time you hear, “Girl drop it to the floor, I love the way yo booty go. All I wanna do is sit back and watch you move, and I’ll proceed to throw this cash,” or see another naked woman sensually advertising men’s suits, you might think twice about the need to objectify a woman to garner mainstream popularity.
There are actually ways to advertise products without using women. Axe body sprays figured that out after a complete redesign of their product campaign for their Super Bowl ads this year. Previously, their commercials focused on the concept that women were to blame for men’s poor behavior due to their “increasing hotness” over the years. Their new “Make love not war” campaign is a shift in product marketing that focuses on attaching a socially relevant message to their advertising.
Rape culture, embedded in our music, media and language subtly aims to diminish the strength of women in society. Being a part of WHO Speaks makes me more passionate about my status as a woman and encourages me to help show other girls on this campus that being a woman is by no means a flaw. Because ladies, we are flawless.
Nandita Singh is a Trinity sophomore. Her column runs every other Tuesday.