Many of us know of the mental and physical damage that can come from gender violence. It is horrific and detrimental to women everywhere. Many men try to ignore or downplay the effects, but women continue to speak out about the attacks and how it can hurt. Yet, the media continues to perpetuate and even embrace rape culture. Why is violence against women still seen as a joke?
Over many years, the media and society have stereotyped our views on how we believe men and women ‘should’ act. Whether it’s in literature, television, magazines or even porn, women can often be represented as ‘damsels in distress’ or ‘subservient’. Men frequently show characteristics of dominance and strength, which is commonly thought of as sexy. Ironically, it’s these exact traits that can be attributed to the action of sexual assault. Within in the past decade, there is said to have been a massive 68 percent increase of rapes, with 321,500 victims (both men and women) per year within the United States. It is possible that the ‘trivialization of rape within the media has anything to do with this increase?
Even in the 21st century, sexual objectification is the standard. In 2013 there was much dispute over the song Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke. The video featured naked women dancing around provocatively. It also revealed Thicke pretending to stick a needle into a girl’s ass while she holds a lamb. Although this doesn’t directly portray sexual assault, the message can be perceived as inappropriate alongside the controversial lyrics of ‘I know you want it’, that isn’t exactly delivering vibes of consent.
Even back in 1993 one of the world’s most well-known bands, Nirvana, released a song titled ‘rape me’ that contains the lyrics “rape me, rape me, my friend.’ Now I don’t believe the singer was referring to the act of violence literally within in the song, but using sexual assault as a metaphor. However, why? Why use the word ‘rape’ at all? The fact that the term is being used in that manner almost feels as if the concept is being trivialized. It’s a sad indictment on society when making remarks and/or jokes about abusing women has become the ‘norm’.
There are an alarming amount of sexual assault memes that not only exist but manage to go viral. Tweets asking others which celebrity they’re most likely to rape. It’s actually really quite despicable when you think about it.
There are also several television shows that address violence against women, most of them using it not to educate others, but as nothing more than a plot point. There is no lesson learned, it is just another woman being forced to endure trauma for no other reason than to attract viewers. Game of Thrones, for example, televises at least a small handful of rape scenes per season, yet very little of them are shown in ways that justify just how traumatic and serious it is. It is never addressed again. There is no consideration of how that would then mentally affect the character afterward.
We can’t ignore the inappropriate jokes that get made when it comes to television sitcoms. For instance, the television sitcom Two Broke Girls made five, yes FIVE rape jokes in one season. When did that become normal? Why have we as a society deemed this acceptable? It almost feels as if the notion of sexual assault is getting used purely for entertainment purposes.
I don’t know when (or why) it became acceptable to belittle, incorrectly portray, and joke about rape but is the media to blame as to why this truly disgraceful crime has become more common? Whether it’s men in power saying stuff like ‘Grab them by the pussy’ or the fact that anyone, regardless of age can access some rather brutal porn clips at the drop of a hat, it seems that rape culture is everywhere we look these days. So, must we blame the media’s dismissive conduct for the increase in sexual assault and rape?