Rape Culture: The Media Implies it is Okay

A guest blog article by Brian H. (student, world citizen)

Social norms develop as a result from the collective ideas of a society at any given point in time.  Without looking at a particular group or society, it is impossible to conclude any social norms, whereas social norms can dictate how societies develop and function.  There is a recurring idea found in each generation that the next generation is somehow lesser prepared, less knowledgeable, and has degraded moral compasses.  Some people argue that this is a recent phenomenon: “The very shaping of history now outpaces the ability of people to orient themselves in accordance with cherished values.  And which values?  Even when they do not panic, people often sense that older ways of feeling and thinking have collapsed and that newer beginnings are ambiguous to the point of moral stasis” (Mills 2).  Rape culture, as well as many other social issues, is not the result of new, deteriorated societal norms.  Rape culture has always existed, but is now coming to light as we develop the capacity to think clearly about it.

The idea that rape occurrences and rape culture are only recently on the rise comes from the amount of minds that don’t think about life’s circumstances from a sociological perspective.  Twenty to thirty years ago, many occurrences of rape were not ever reported and the rate of reporting has not increased a lot since then; however, with the help of programs that were designed to help victims feel more anonymous and safe from public ridicule, many more rape victims have come forth to report their incidents in a short amount of time.  This has led many people to imagine that today’s society is much more over-sexed and that sex occurs much more frequently than it used to.  Sex may be occurring at a greater rate among certain demographics, but the increase in frequency is over stated.  Sex was happening back then just as it is happening now, society is just less afraid to talk about it.  Yet people will argue that rape culture is an invention of liberally minded whiners looking for something to harp on, or that it has only become an issue in the last couple of years.  Rape culture has existed for a long while and continues to exist.

In “The Accused” (1988), there is a backlash from society against a woman who is only trying to find justice for her rapists and those who cheered it on.  Her case against the criminal solicitors is even deemed as “precedent setting” by the media.  In “Sleepers” (1996), four boys growing up in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC demonstrate that even after experiencing rape and abuse at the hands of reform school guards, the societal norm of their time pushes them to keep quiet about what they experienced.  That is a large part of what rape culture does.  These movies don’t take place in the twenty-first century, nor were they even produced in the twenty-first century.  The end of “Sleepers” even acknowledges that the State of New York denies that there are any records of this sort of behavior in their systems and they also deny this behavior ever occurred.  With no records being kept of what happened then, it can be easy to look back into the past and draw conclusions that nothing “out of the ordinary” occurred when, in fact, it happened.

It can be a crutch in every generation to think that today’s generation is somehow going to be the end of civilization as we know it.  It gives the other generation validation for its actions and the feeling that they figured out the correct way to live along the way.  When people start accepting that life today is no worse off than it was years and years ago, there can finally be an open discussion that allows people to look at the issues from every angle.  The root of the problem is only waiting to be discovered by fair eyes.


Mills, C. Wright.  2000 (1959).  The Sociological Imagination: 40th Anniversary Edition.  Oxford University Press.


27 thoughts on “Rape Culture: The Media Implies it is Okay

  1. I learned about rape culture during slavery times from my Grandparents and older relativies and from reading about it in books. I learned that black women were raped daily by their slave masters. They bore the children and the slave masters acted as if it never happened. The black men couldn’t do anything out of fear of being killed or sold off. Although Thomas Jefferson was married, he had a mistress who lived in his home and took care of his children and her name was Sally Heming. They had several children. So rape culture is no different then than it is now, it’s just prominent because alot of cases go unreported like Brian said.

    1. Yes, I have heard the same thing from my grandparents and also form movies. Back then they could not say anything about it because who would care and even if they did tell someone they would be called a liar and could get killed because they spoke up. That is kind of how it is today if a girl or guy spoke up, it would feel like social suicide for them and that could be one of the reason a lot of cases go unreported.

  2. Yes I totally agree with what Brian has said that rape culture has always been in existence and in fact I personally thing it is in decreasing rate at the moment because people are more aware of the consequences of raping and victims are more aware of their rights and this is resulting from growing civilization and the impact of education and also growing industrialization. The media has done a great job in trying to bring the awareness of the public to the issue of rape culture and as a result some have misinterpreted this level of publicity to something negative thereby making it look like the rape culture is something that has just begun in this generation.

  3. Rape culture has most certainly been around just as long as humans have. It has been different lately, however, as it has been gaining more and more attention through the media. I cannot help but be hopeful.
    In human history, rape has been seen as the norm; hardly a crime at all. As you mentioned, victims were often afraid of public ridicule, being blamed or called a liar. Even in the last few decades, those who were brought to court on charges of rape were much more often than not found innocent. Or at the very least, given a plea bargain.
    With the attention in the recent years came understanding, from what I’ve seen, and willingness to reach out and help. With women’s rights came voice and the ability to stand up for themselves, and hopefully within the next few generations we will see a large increase in rape reports and justice.

  4. I agree with the author, with the emergence of new technology and a wider more open society we can see the problems better and understand the flaws in our society. Today people interact more socially and our society is changing, with change comes new ideologies of how to react to problems at hand. In this case the problem is rape and how we are seeing it today rather than how people saw it in the past. The way we are handling the issue is the real question, while everyone agrees rape is a bad thing socially what should the punishment be, how severe, and what to do. The media is providing awareness which is great, so we need to get the good from the past and mix it with the new in the present to come up with a fair punishment.

  5. Brian really hit this one on the head. As usual, the media plays a huge role in the promotion of exploiting sex and power and the line between the two are becoming thinner and thinner everyday.

  6. I agree with Brian when he said that rape culture has always existed. I took African American History this semester and I learned that rape was a common thing back when slavery existed in America. The slave women would get raped by their masters. This shows that rape started way before the 21st century. I also agree with him when he says that rape culture is coming to light. Back in the day, people did not discuss rape like they do now. I’m pretty sure people got raped years ago just as often as they get raped now, they just did not speak up on it like people do today.

  7. Rape culture has always existed and always will exist. Agreeing with the author on new groups and technology advancements have brought the rape culture to the public eye. A few months back Redeye a free Chicago new paper, did an article on sexual assaults in Chicago. Methods like these shock, worry, and make people aware of what the rape culture is. I feel that the more knowledge and awareness of the culture is how society will fend of the growing culture.

  8. I agree with the author. I also believe that rape culture has existed since the dawn of age. I just have to wonder is rape more accessible today? Is rape more common nowadays than it has ever been? The incredible facility in which humans get intoxicating substances has allowed for rape to become more common and easier.
    Even though it might occur at the same rates as it used to, I believe the biggest problem with the way the media handles this issue is the it does not oppose it. Having shows, music videos, and movies get more explicit by the year only helps society develop a greater understanding and tolerance for rape.

  9. I agree that the rape victims numbers are growing because many more are coming forward today. There is a confidential system that handles victims suffering from rape. As was pointed out, many reports years back then were never reported. But something is different today then years ago. More awareness has surely come around regarding what defines a rape victim. I can’t speak on behalf of years ago what the regulations were for rape victims. What I’m trying to get at is, back in the 70s or 80s, would a partner that had consumed alcohol and had sex consensually be considered rape? With the consumption of alcohol lets say 2 drinks, was it acknowledged back then are it is today. Todays society pretty much has a zero tolerance when it comes to drinking and sex. Even with verbal consent, no one can really consent to sex even if they have one drink of alcohol. We look at it like that today. Did we look at it like that years ago? If no, that would be one factor why the rising number or reports coming forward today.

  10. Wow that’s something! I agree with the author Brian on this topic as well. I agree that rape has been around since forever,yet in these more recent times it has become more apart of today’s society and is taken quite seriously. Every few days you’ll hear another crazy story about sexual assault to the point where it has just become apart of the “real world:. It’s a shame that so many people are so new to the whole idea of rape being an issue now. I’m sure that rape has been around for a long time, yet it saddens me to think that rape wasn’t taken as serious as it is now.

  11. I agree with the fact that rape has always been around. In the past it has been kept quite and the fact that people are speaking out against it is a good thing. I don’t believe that the media has made rape more culturally excepted by making society a “sex crazied” one. People are just more comfortable with talking about sex these days, and I think thats a good thing. The more we talk about sex in general, the more openess we are as a society, the more rape victims will come forward. The first step is amiting that there is a problem and then discussing the problem to find the solution. Rape wasn’t talked about in the past so it seemed like it didn’t happen has much, but as we are finding out through media it did happen. No one ever came forward in the past because they were scared and society often treated the victims poorly. With all the support that victims can find now a days, I believe society is one the right track.

  12. I also think that rape culture always existed. It was here especially during slavery but didn’t stop. While there obviously aren’t any slaves to take advantage of these days I still see this a lot (with African Americans). So these acts have never truly slowed. I would agree too, that rape is coming more to light, however, in East St. Louis I know several people who were raped and it is never talked about or mentioned. Just shushed and swept under the rug

  13. I enjoyed the link between the supposed increase in rape to the supposed degradation of society. With rape i feel that it is impossible to tell whether it is on the rise for attitudes towards rape itself has changed greatly. In earlier American culture there was a strong power put in patriarchy and the idea of the homemaker “objectified” woman being a normal occurrence. I enjoy collecting old advertisements for products especially those in the fifties and as i would look through antique stores or second hand shops I was surprised to find that some advertisements would openly condone hitting or punishing women. The acceptance of this violence towards women may have made things such as rape to be ignored or unreported. Importance shouldn’t be on the supposed rise of rape but just that it still exists in our society at large rates. People are focused on shunning change that they are quick to point out the pitfalls of newer generations. People place emphasis their own generations norms as opposed to looking at the large scope of society and the standards they hold.

  14. Wow, this author deserves an applause; fantastic points. This article is very true. The same things have happened over and over again; history repeats itself. Now, thanks to social media, we can see things instantaneously. The horror over rape and other things, war, murder, kidnapping, natural disasters, has occurred before! And is just as heartbreaking. I have experienced personally how generations above mine think the way this author described. Multiple older people truly believe that this generation is awful. When in reality, they were just as bad and are claiming the exact things against younger generations that were bombarded upon them. History repeating itself.

  15. I feel most people on this blog including me can see where Brian is coming from, kudos to him for such a well put article. Rape is beginning to get more light, but if you look at it from a certain angle, it also seems to be on rise. Technology of today makes rape more easy to achieve. Not only that, but I also feel the actions of our generation contribute to this risen factor. Our generation of today, seem to expose their body more and more as time goes on. Also, being drunk, is another opening for people to rape. When drunk, people tend to be more vulnerable and can do very little for themselves if found in this position. Lastly. . . drugging. This seems to be the new trend of the world today. Drugs are secretly slipped in to peoples drink to achieve this action and make rape much easier. If you have noticed, all the factors that I’ve listed above has either started in the 21 century or at least has been on the rise. I feel this generation is actually contributing to this act called rape, nonetheless they still deserve justice for the crimes committed on them.

    1. I don’t think rape is on the rise at all. In fact, I think it is happening less. I believe awareness is such that more people are reporting it. The fear of stigma is down. This means a greater number of people tell someone, making it appear that the number of actual rapes has gone up, when in fact we cannot truly assess that. Additionally, while it may not be prudent to get drunk, wear skimpy clothes, or accept a potentially drugged drink from a stranger, the person who is rape is NEVER to be blamed. Period.

      1. Agreed, I am not blaming any of the victims, I was only mentioning things that contribute to rape. But one cannot deny the fact that with all the things I previously mentioned, it has contributed to rape. Sure you say rape may not be on the rise, but you cannot deny that there are various things in the world of today that makes rape easier to commit.

  16. It is very true that past generations like to call new generations lazy or different then their own. In fact new generations are going to be different, but just because somethings different doesn’t mean it’s not as good. These insecurities of past generations may contribute into the way rape has been viewed. One might call it embarrassing to admit that rape was going on so they just “made sure” it wasn’t going on. Now with laws like SASETA in Illinois, rape victims don’t have be afraid of backlash of peers, family, or any “victim blaming” because they can anonymously report it and be checked out. Today is heading in the right direction of public social awareness on subjects that previous generations started in much smaller numbers.

  17. I agree, rape culture has always existed and it probably always will but the difference today is that it is no longer ignored. Victims often feel embarrassed or that it is their fault but they should never feel this way. Today society spreads the acknowledgement of this issue and urges victims to help themselves and others by telling people what happened to them. Now if only more people would acknowledge the fact that rape culture is not new, it is simply only finally being talked about. Then maybe people would see that this century is not more troubled than the past, it is simply more open and aware of the issues that occur daily in the world.

  18. I definitely agree with this article. Rape culture is and has been existing. The difference between now and back then however is the fact that back then there wasn’t really much awareness of the problem. In times of slavery, women got raped by their masters daily. There wasn’t much they could do about it or they could possibly be killed. Today, rape is taken much more seriously than ever before. I am not content with much of what is going on in our society, however I am blessed situations like these are taken much more seriously and a lot is done about it. People are more aware of this issue than ever before. Of course I do wish that there wasn’t any issue to be aware about in the first place. But looking at the world we live in, there will always be issues like this daily.

  19. I could not agree more with the statement Brian made about rape culture being less existing in earlier years and generations. The only reason rape culture is more known and popular today is because their is much more awareness about it in the world. Communities now have support groups for victims of rape which leads them to be more open to an extent about their abuse. Societies in earlier generations were very secure and formal, which is why things like tattoos aren’t accepted by some people who were born in those generations. The same goes for talking about sex and having sex, or being raped; it wasn’t something they openly talked about with one another. People mainly believe what they hear from word of mouth, so when things like rape and sex were happening but there was no awareness or no discussion about these issues, people didn’t believe these issues weren’t really of importance or a main issue. Today we constantly hear stories of victims coming forward about their rape, and support groups have formed in communities,because there is more awareness the earlier generations believe rape and sex are happening more because of our generation, when in fact the society if just becoming more comfortable and open with these issues.

  20. This article made me think of a conversation I had with my grandmother were she told me there were no rapes when she was growing up. I laughed at her and had to explain that, yes, there were rapes and rapists. There was a time when men could use and abuse women and no one said anything because they were women, but today is different. Slowly, people are opening their eyes and realizing how important consent is.
    However, there’s an emphasis on slowly. Although Title IX declares that each school must take reports of sexual assault seriously, many universities do not. For instance, recently at Michigan State University, a student was offered $10,000 to drop her lawsuit against her assaulter. In some cases we are moving forward, sadly though, we are always moving backwards.

  21. I agree with the statement in this article that talks about rape not being a new occurrence in society, and that is has been around forever. Rape is now finally being talked about more and recognized as a traumatizing action; however, I feel that there is still not enough being done to educate the public on this matter. In my opinion, rape education should start at an early age, such as middle school, to get the message out there that this can happen to anyone. The media could easily broadcast more messages on this topic instead of overlooking rape or pushing it under the rug like it seems to do now. Rape culture, unfortunately, is all too real and happens way more than some people like to lead on.

  22. I agree with you, people make is seem like rape is on the rise and is this new scary thing. When in fact rape has always been around. People are just finally being able to talk about things without caring what the world will say. Sadly, years ago the victims were blamed and interrogated after coming forward about a rape. With the fear of being judged many people just tried to forget and live with it. Rape is never a victims fault, and is never ok. We have always lived in a rape culture but hopefully being open about this issue it will get enough attention that some serious action will be taken place.

  23. I agree with this blog completely. Social media makes rape sound not as bad as it actually is. For instance look at some of the recent crimes of rape. Many nowadays has an athlete being the one accused of it. Since thanks to social media the judges and the juries believe that is not a major offence but it actually is. I have known many people who have been raped in their lifetime and the person walked away while they were scared for life. We need social media to portray that rape is absolutely not okay.

  24. Every generation thinks that their age group is the best. Everyone has heard their grandparents begin a sentence with “back in my day”. The fact of the matter is that every era will have their own set of problems and solutions. Nonconsensual sex, drugs, greed, every possibly horrible thing has occurred with each generation. However, now it is easier to spread the bad news. Negative news is popular news. Four generations ago, if a teen became pregnant she could be sent away to a distant relative until the baby was born so that “shame” wouldn’t be brought on the family. Now, that’s not so easy. The dirty laundry is easier to spread and because of that people have become more comfortable with airing it themselves.

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