Today: Jun 25, 2024

The effects of living in a “rape culture”

photo courtesy | An example of how sexual references are used in everyday advertisements, media, television , music and movies.

Mackenzie Hurlbert – General Assignment Reporter

Rape is on television nightly, publicized for entertainment on shows like Jersey Shore. It is hinted at in advertisements, featured in magazines for shoes and sunglasses because sex sells. We may not realize it, but we live in a rape culture, and as Ebony McClease’s discussion “Living in a Rape Culture” pointed out, our society is blindly sex-obsessed to the point where rape is often brushed under the rug or declared illegitimate.

“Our culture is very awkward around this idea of sex and what sex means. You have eight different messages going on,” said McClease during the discussion last Wednesday, Apr. 3. “You have the ‘You shouldn’t be having sex at all message.’ Then you have the ‘You should have sex if you find the right person.’ Then it’s the, ‘You should have sex as long as you’re not having sex with too many people…’  To be honest nobody can really navigate what this message is.”

McClease asked the group questions about media and how our ideas of sex are influenced by advertisements, celebrities and reality TV shows.

“When it comes to sex, our group is very much around this idea of sexual pleasure in very plentiful quantities,” said McClease about the current student population. “Kim Kardashian got famous off of a sex tape… Her fame sky-rocketed after sex tape was leaked. Her image got bigger off of this idea that she was having sex.” McClease then went on to explain how this idea has been replicated throughout society, and in turn there is this idea that women are at the sexual beck-and-call of their male counterparts.

Along with this idea comes the objectification of women in general. We see in advertisements, on TV, and in real life how women are commonly seen as objects to be desired, owned, and used. Advertisements link women to cars and shoes, objects to be bought and used. One participant of the discussion mentioned that the association of women in car ads creates this objectified image. Cars can be bought and driven, and this could lead to the idea that women are objects to be possessed and commanded.

McClease cited the show Jersey Shore as an example of how sex and rape are becoming entertainment and portrayed as the ‘thing to do.’

“Our culture is bombarded with this image of rape. It is illegal to have sex with someone who can’t consent, which means if you are drunk, you can not consent to sex. What is every girl on the Jersey Shore that they bring home? Drunk,” said McClease. “We are watching rapes in real-time. In some instances, the girls are so drunk that they are throwing up. The reality is, how many of them are being prosecuted for this? None. We’re watching rape on TV.”

photo courtesy | poppysmicc.wordpress.comAn example of how sexual references are used in everyday
advertisements, media, television , music and movies.
photo courtesy |
An example of how sexual references are used in everyday
advertisements, media, television , music and movies.

McClease and the group also brought up the Ohio rape story that has been covered in the news over the past few months. The high school football team gang-raped a drunk, passed-out girl, who didn’t find out about the rape until seeing photos on Instagram the following day. McClease pointed out how while these men broke a federal law, they are still receiving pity from people because “their lives will be ruined.” Examples like this show how rape has been belittled into this “illegitimate” and unsure act. People protest, ‘The girl wanted it’ or ‘She was dressed like a slut’ in order to justify the action. If it had been murder instead of rape, the verdict would be undoubtedly guilty, but when sex, gender roles, and sexist views are involved, the situation becomes complicated.

Junior Alexandra Murray attended the discussion as homework for one of her classes, but she was pleasantly surprised at how thought-provoking and interesting it turned out to be.

“I just liked that it was actually an open dialogue about the injustices that women often face,” said Murray. “I haven’t seen anything like it recently, and I think especially in the last couple weeks it has been a really big issue with the Steubenville rape cases, and I think getting together and talking about it and what we can do to stop rape culture and victim shaming during these very violent sexual assault.”

When asked if she had learned anything new about the topic throughout the discussion, Murray said, “The sexualization of advertisements. I had recognized that in the past, but just the way she presented it showed it is really everywhere and the objectification of women and the correlation of those objects in the commercials to the women that they are being used for. I thought that was a really interesting point that I hadn’t made a connection to in the past.” Murray looks forward to attending more discussions led by McClease.

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