According to Google, the definition of rape culture is this:
‘a society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalising or trivialising sexual assault and abuse’.
This is a reality that we live with every day.
What is Rape?
Rape is the act of sexual assault without the consent of the victim. This can include any type of sexual contact or penetration. It does include those who are
- Under the influence of drugs or alcohol (be that voluntary or not)
- Asleep or unconscious
- Mentally impaired or incapacitated
But the above conditions are ones that people usually forget or don’t even consider as rape. The bottom line is that rape involves the lack of consent. Whether that fact can be proved in court doesn’t matter. Rape isn’t just considered rape when someone can be put in jail with surmountable evidence. This is because rape isn’t about sex or sexual gratification. It is about the control that the rapist is able to gain over their victim.
In our society, when someone has been raped the first thoughts that come into most people’s minds are those of doubt. We ask questions such as ‘how much did you have to drink?’ or ‘what were you wearing?’ This act of blaming the victim has to stop. How can we call ourselves empathetic and understanding individuals if the first things that come to mind when someone says they have been raped is that they may be lying? This convention has cost many rape survivors the opportunity for justice because those who have committed the crime have been able to use this perception of rape to escape a conviction.
A woman named Grace Brown, who is a photographer operating in New York, started a photography project called Project Unbreakable in 2011 after a friend admitted to being sexually assaulted. The photographs contain various victims holding written statements of statements given by their attackers, friends, professors, lawyers or sometimes even the police. It allows the opportunity for rape survivors to have a voice, maybe to compensate for the time when they had none, and to take power back from those words that were once used to hurt them. The project also gives people the choice to remain anonymous if they wish to, allowing them to simply send a picture of the words without featuring in the picture.
Brown had stopped the project in 2015 but has since rekindled it with everything that is occurring in the USA at the moment. When she started the project she said that:
‘People sharing their experiences, sometimes for the first time. It’s a way for them to let go of their story, I guess’.
So please visit the links included for the Tumblr blog and the Instagram account. Let’s help bring awareness to a presently existing problem that needs to stop. And let’s help give our support to these survivors of abuse who deserve recognition for their resilience and strength.