Editor’s Note: The author, Amber Hill, is a student in the spring 2011 Women’s Studies Program Feminist Theory course at The University of Akron.
In that second, when that word is still hanging in the air, engulfing every ounce of oxygen you try to breathe, your soul is writhing inside of you, and you feel too much to comprehend.
When it’s over, when that whole second has passed, it is now a taste. A smell. A ringing in your ears. You feel like you just made it out of somewhere no one was ever meant to go.
Put rape into context
We know what rape is. We all know how horrible it is. It is one of the worst things that can be done to a person. Yet it happens to women every day. Two hundred and forty times a day actually. A woman is raped every six minutes.
Do not make it just a statistic. Stop and think about it. Put it into context. How many hours do you sleep? Times that by 10, and that is how many women got raped while you slept. Why? Is that a question without an answer? Maybe, but maybe not.
Rape is about power. It is not sexual. It is about making someone see they are less, they are weak, and they are not in control. It is about dominance.
Who gets raped? Women. Men are at the top in our society; according to the world, they are in control. There are certain expectations of women in our society. What we should do and what we should not do. How we should act, what we should say and what we should not. Women get punished for not doing what they are expected. Women cannot have power over men. To men, a good way to show her that is to rape her.
Research study shows women get the blame
The funny thing is that we blame women for being raped. I know, sounds absurd right? There have been plenty of studies done on victim blame in rape cases. And yes, we blame women, but guess who gets blamed more for their rape. Women who are not acting like women “should” act.
Studies have also shown that women who have had sex before get less sympathy for being raped, and women who are sexually promiscuous get little to no sympathy and are fully blamed.
Certain non-stereotypical characteristics of women make them more prone to be blamed. A woman who is not acting in the stereotypical way for a woman is blamed for her rape!
I conducted a research study in which 300 participants of mixed gender, age, race and class, viewed two rape scenarios. One of a stereotypical (traditional) woman, at home cooking dinner waiting for her husband and children to get home and then she is raped. The other is of a non-stereotypical (nontraditional) woman, a woman in college, at a party talking with a guy, then he rapes her.
After many tests, it was found that significantly more people blamed the nonstereotypical (nontraditional) woman. It was her fault, she asked for it, the boy should not feel guilty and he is not to blame. But for the traditional woman (at home where she belongs) it was opposite; no one blamed her.
Another test I ran was to see if men attributed more blame to women, overall, for being raped. This seemed like an obvious yes. Surprisingly, for my study, men did not attribute more blame than women did it. Most men and most women blame women for being raped. I have found studies that yielded results for both, men blaming women slightly more and it coming out as mine did. But regardless, most women are blaming women for being raped either way.
What we can do
We need to band together and help each other, not conform to this patriarchal society that blames women for being raped by men. It is completely foolish and preposterous to blame women for such a horrid act that is forcibly done to her.
It will only be us who will stop it; we have to do something about it. I believe it is the lack of education and knowledge, of men and women that cause most people to conform to society and be judgmental toward women, even as victims of rape.
Sources for more information
- http://www.amnestyusa.org/violence-against-women/violence-against-women—a-fact-sheet/page.do?id=1108440 – Fact sheet
- http://www.ria.buffalo.edu/pdf/RIB08-4.pdf – A study: Social influences on judgments of rape victims: the role of the negative and positive social reactions of others
- http://tarjomeh.com/account/file/2171_att.pdf – A study: Attribution of blame in cases of rape: An analysis of participant gender, type of rape and perceived similarity to the victim
- http://oro.open.ac.uk/15302/2/44F845E5.pdf – A study: Attrition in rape cases: Developing a profile and identifying relevant factors.