The Ethics Of Rape Culture: Victim Blaming

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It is no secret that rape culture is overwhelmingly prevailing in the modern era. Rape culture is a society or environment where there is a normalization of sexual assault and abuse. It is not just the fixate on high-profile rape cases, such as Harvey Weinstein’s infamous scandal latterly in 2017, but it includes, and is not limited to: victim blaming, sexually derogatory comments, and lenient punishments determined in the courtroom. There are numerous topics that come with the ethics of rape culture, some being controverted for many years. One of many said matters is whether abortion is an ethical step if the pregnancy was the result of a rape. In this paper, each aspect of rape culture listed above will be scrutinized through this question: how does America’s court system and its inconsistent penalty for rape crimes contribute to the presence of rape culture? This examination is exceptionally relevant to society and what the United States has faced in 2018, along with what the country will face in 2019 regarding equality, oppression of women, and the leniency of ravishment malefactions. The ethical lens that will be the focal point throughout this essay will not only investigate the general subject of rape culture, but will delve into the morality of the concerns that come along with it.

There is a particular commonality in each case that actually make it to court: victim blaming and invasive questions inside the courtroom. A great percentage of rape victims are too ashamed or pusillanimous to testify against their predator with the fear of humiliation within the place where they crave justice. Although some do not view this as a part of rape culture, criticizing the victim for their previous choices, ultimately placing the incident’s cause upon the sufferer, is a major aspect that is set directly under the problem. “Victim-blaming attitudes marginalize the victim/survivor and make it harder to come forward and report the abuse. If the survivor knows that you or society blames them for the abuse, s/he will not feel safe or comfortable coming forward and talking to you.” (Southern Connecticut State University, 2018). A notorious example from 2016 is the case of People v. Brock Turner. The rapist, who is a former Stanford attendee, was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster on campus. Turner repeatedly blamed his own actions on the environment of peer pressure and drinking, but there is no mitigation. The victim made a statement as follows: “Alcohol is not an excuse. Regretting drinking is not the same as regretting sexual assault. We were both drunk; the difference is I did not take off your pants and underwear, touch you inappropriately and run away.” (The Odyssey, 2016). Turner was sentenced to only six months in jail, despite being found guilty of three felony sexual assault charges. His short jail sentence and scapegoat of peer pressure and drinking is an example of how rape culture is being enabled throughout today’s society.

Victim blaming is one of the prime examples of rape culture, and that is exactly what occurred within this case. Yet, Jane Doe was questioned about what her habits were, what she ate for dinner, and what she was wearing the night of the assault. She was asked about her behaviors and what she does with her body, and was blamed for drinking too much. Why isn’t Turner receiving the same treatment? The answer is simply because his lawyers, and unfortunately many others, believe it was the survivor’s fault for drinking alcohol incipiently. In this case, the female was shamed for being intoxicated, even though she was taken advantage of, but the drunkenness of Turner served as a justification for what he did, making this a double standard. According to his defense lawyer, because he is a male that withheld a great amount of potential, a male who had a swimming scholarship, a male that had too much on the line to go to prison for a crime that shouldn’t be classified as a crime, Turner did not deserve prison time. What isn’t acknowledged is how the victim suffers after the incident; the lifelong consequences that come with rape. “While it’s normal to have trouble coping in the days or weeks following any type of violence, PTSD is, by its very definition, a long-term problem, which often includes issues with sleeping, nightmares, severe anxiety, numbness, and depression that can last longer than a month. In fact, these symptoms sometimes last for many months or even years and, without treatment, can get worse over time.” (Vartan, Pacific Standard, 2014).

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For decades, women have always been seen as objects: meant to stay in the home, to care for her children, to cook, to clean, and to do all of the other household work. It was often frowned upon for women to go out and work, because that was a man’s job. The oppression of women stems from a man’s proclivity for power and control. “They deny women the right to make decisions so that they can make them for them, leaving women unable to direct their own lives so that they can direct their lives for them.” (Taylor, Steve, “Why Men Oppress Women”, 2012). Although rape culture could be a society promoting rape and sexual assault, it usually isn’t that intense. Most times, it is how a society acts – the cultural practices – that seem to tolerate sexual violence in our communities.

As mentioned previously, debates on the ethical points of abortion of a pregnancy inflicted by rape influences rationalization of this action. One of many vindications for abortion in the case of rape is that the mother did not consent to biological parenthood. In this instance, and any other instance, abortion should be allowable; becoming a biological parent, or caregiver in general, should be voluntary. If a woman is not equipped, she should not be responsible to give birth to a baby if she did not consent to become pregnant, is still a child herself, or cannot financially or socially support an adolescent. While some mothers who were victims of rape appoint to have the baby if the occurrence resulted in one, that should not justify every woman’s choice. Rejecting a woman’s right to abortion, which violates her right to choose what she does with her body, is parallel to a woman saying no and still being violated. A woman being told what to do with her body in terms of not having access to abortion, strips her rights – alike being assaulted. Through this perspective, it is evident that the pro-life ideology is an underlying inclusion to rape culture itself. A woman should have the opportunity to choose her own outcome in either scenario. By not giving birth to a child of rape, women would not be forced to live with a constant reminder of her traumatic experience of being raped, identical to being forcibly impregnated. Women should not have the obligation, or feel like they have to gratify the obligation, of raising any child, whether they were the product of ravishment or the latter.

Invasive questions within a courthouse, victim blaming, maltreatment of women, and the ethics of abortion are all principal aspects of rape culture as a whole. There are various viable solutions to the ending of rape culture, including education of the matter, lessening the occurrence of sexual assault jokes and comments, and having a reliable court system. Although education on rape culture is an extensive approach, it will be the most effective when preventing future generations of detesting the culture. It will be simpler to avoid making sexually offensive remarks in view of the fact that society will finally acknowledge how damaging it is to people in the environment. By having rape and abuse experts on juries, each take will be through an educated perspective. It will be more effective in avoiding bias, creating more outcomes of justice rather than inequity.  

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