Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Rape Culture

Today I am endorsing, reprinting, rebroadcasting, retweeting, +1-ing, sharing, Tumblr-ing, and blogging about this March 21st statement from the non-profit organization, UltraViolet:

"Between the Steubenville trial, the horrible attacks against rape survivor and political analyst Zerlina Maxwell, and CNN's awful coverage of the Steubenville verdict--it's time we had a serious conversation about rape culture.

"Because Todd Akin didn't come up with the term 'legitimate rape' all on his own."

Sure, Akin's phrase "legitimate rape" made me sick to my stomach, but did I do anything about it? Perhaps not immediately, but I have lately begun to focus on rape culture, particularly within the military. And by "focus," I mean turning my energy to the task of eliminating rape within the military through education, training, prevention, intervention, leadership, and teamwork.

We have our work cut out for us as a society. The information graphic below, also from UltraViolet, sums up the nature of the rape culture challenge in this country. The military reflects the society it serves, and the statistics inside the ranks are no better. They may even be worse, when you consider that the military skews younger and so many of our troops have been stressed by a decade of war. But there are no excuses for rape, nor for a culture of permissiveness around sexual violence.

Rape culture is a violent offense to Army values and to the ideal of treating all persons with fairness, dignity, and respect. Is it therefore, as UltraViolet suggests, "Time for a serious conversation?" We're past the point of talking, in my opinion. It's time for a country and a nation's Army to act:
  • change how we train men to be men, replacing toxic masculinity with virtues of strength and justice
  • identify and crack down on potential perpetrators, whose behaviors and attitudes do not conform to the values of fairness, dignity, and respect
  • prosecute offenders to the fullest extent of the law--because rape tears apart a person, a family, and a team
  • train potential victims in awareness, self-defense, and prevention techniques--because perpetrators will avoid strength and exploit weakness 
  • empower bystanders to prevent rape before it happens and intervene in situations which might lead to sexual assault
  • advocate for victims so that more offenses are reported, more cases are tried, and more perpetrators are removed from society.
I believe these actions will address the pandemic of rape, both in the immediate term and also for the long run. If it takes years to build a culture, it can take years to bend it. I doubt anyone would expect to defeat rape culture overnight. Even so, we can only stop rape culture if we recognize it and stand up against it.

Care to help? Consider endorsing, reprinting, rebroadcasting, retweeting, +1-ing, sharing, Tumblr-ing, and blogging about this post, and visit the non-profit organization, UltraViolet for more information.

This post is published with sincere appreciation to my friend CC who brought this infographic to my attention.