In recent years, the most controversial subject has been brought to surface by many and has been one of the most argued subjects around the world. In the United States, sexual assault is known to be a frequent occurrence with an estimate of one in four women that would most likely be a victim in their lifetime. Sexual assault has become part of a bigger issue, it is represented as a social problem and many has adopted it in our culture. With such high rates of rape cases in the United States, rape culture is becoming more adaptive in our society and it is a crucial subject to comprehend and to be educated on. It is also important to learn how rape culture have been driving the acceptance of sexual violence and rape myths.
Inevitably, rape myths are beliefs that causes strong contribution to sexual violence and rape culture these days. These beliefs also contribute by shifting blame for sexual assault from offenders to victims. Most beliefs contributing to rape myths may include the ‘women asking for it.’ As evidence, Peter observed Sue was wearing a bodycon dress and that automatically resulted in the thought of having a chance to sleep with her only because she gave him what people would call the signal. Such common rape acuities exemplify beliefs that are practically not realistic. According to Iconis “rape myths as attitudes & beliefs that are generally false but are widely and persistently held, and that serve to deny and justify male sexual aggression against women”.
On one hand, men may see rape myths to confirm men’s sexual acts against women. On the other hand, women may see rape as a denial of personal defenselessness. For instance, men validating rape myths would be that if there are no result of bruising, that would indicate the victim was not sexually assaulted, therefore the victim may not claim they were raped. In other words, if a victim does not show any evidence of struggle or physical harm, they cannot claim anything has happened. The same thing would go for women, a way they are contributing to rape myths are the fact that they believe if they do no act in a promiscuous way, they will certainly not be a victim to such horrendous act. Hence, Sue thinking she could get out the situation by asking Peter to go for a walk because subconsciously she knew did not want to be in that position or damage her social image.
Moreover, rape myths help contain rape culture. It is a common belief that rape, or sexual assault does not happen as often as people would like to imagine, but, approximately 293,000 victims would be sexually assaulted every year in the United States. Research shows that one sexual assault occurs every 2 minutes. Another belief is that a person is more prone to sexual assaults wearing revealing clothes or drinking a lot. And unfortunately, that will automatically reveal that the person is asking for it and the clothing choices are an invitation and consent to sexual activity.
Sexual assault is seen as an act of lust that cannot be controlled, which can be true in some cases but it is also about control. Peter believed Sue stopped resisting because she finally was into having sexual intercourse with him but was not thinking right in the first place. What is obvious is that Sue did not fight back, Peter believed that she finally wanted to engage in sexual activity with him. But to Sue, she seemed as though she was experiencing what is called “tonic immobility.” In better words, it a frozen response during an assault when someone cannot physically move or speak. Peter had this idea of Sue wearing the tight black dress and the look was an invitation to get what he wanted. “It is usually only women who dress suggestively who are raped. Thus, if a woman was not dressed suggestively, it was not rape; if she was dressed suggestively, it was her fault.” States Common Myths and Facts about the Causes of Sexual Violence (N.D).
Under Florida’s law, rape is not clearly defined but the state classifies all forms of sexual penetration under the same category. Sexual Battery and Rape in Florida indicates “Sexual Battery, known as rape, is one of the most aggressively prosecuted crimes in Florida and carries some of the most severe and long-lasting penalties of any criminal offenses”. Unquestionably, most rape cases often come down to the accuser’s word against the accused. So, to say I were in Sue’s situation, I would have fought Peter back and insist on stopping him simply because I would have not wanted to engage in any sexual activity with him. I personally know that I am not strong enough to stop him. Peter would have to force contact and that would result Peter committing aggravated assault.
However, sexual assault/battery is a serious crime and the legal definition is, any non-consensual physical or penetrable contact with another person using their sexual organ or a physical object. Under Florida Statute 794.011, it is an illegal crime to commit this act and there would be major penalties when someone take part to such crime. In my case, Peter would be charged with Aggravated Assault, otherwise known as sexual battery. This serious crime would put Peter behind bars for up to thirty years, along with thirty-six years of probation, and a ten thousand dollars fine. Hornby in Sexual Battery and Rape in Florida, states that “Under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code, Aggravated Sexual Battery is assigned a level 8 offense severity ranking and, absent prior criminal history or grounds for a downward departure sentence, and a judge is required to sentence a person convicted of aggravated sexual battery to a minimum sentence of seven and a half years in prison followed by at least two years of sex offender probation” states Common Myths and Facts about the Causes of Sexual Violence.
To finalize, the purpose of this paper was to show how rape myths has been accepted in our society, whether it was from a man’s perspective or a woman’s perspective. There have been a great amount of people who became victims of attempted rape and sexual assault. With the result of having such high rate in sexual violence, we can conclude that we are in need for a social change. Whether it is taking offender’s actions and hold them accountable or believing that one’s clothing choice might be the result in being a victim. We must be able to comprehend the beliefs and the myths behind rape culture and sexual assault to put a stop to such things.