Sexual violence happens because we still live in a world where there is gender inequality: where we think that women and LGBTQ+ people are less important than men and straight, cisgender people. When we think about sexual violence, we often think about crimes like rape. However, it’s important to think about the everyday behaviours that create a world where rape is made acceptable by normalising harmful attitudes and behaviours. We call this "rape culture".
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What examples of rape culture might you see in your life?
Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia
People using phrases like “that’s so gay” as an insult. This suggests that it is a bad thing to be gay, or that gay people are somehow worse than straight people.
This could mean thinking that men should be more sexually aggressive/dominant, or that women should do all the emotional work in a relationship, like listening to problems and talking about where the relationship is going.
Other examples of gender stereotypes could be:
- Boys shouldn’t wear make-up or skirts
- Girls are naturally more caring
- Boys should be taller than girls
- Girls are overly emotional
- Boys are more aggressive
- Girls are bitchy
- Men should be more dominant
- Boys are always jealous in relationships and don’t like it if girls spend time with other guys
- Girls are attention seeking and may pretend that they have been raped
- Girls are not as good at sports and that’s why female athletes get paid less
Illustratration credit: https://www.instagram.com/frizzkidart/
Gender stereotypes can also mean things like slut shaming: making women feel ashamed of being sexual and not having the same attitude towards men who do the same things.
Illustration credit: https://www.instagram.com/liberaljane/
There are lots of myths surrounding rape and sexual violence: for example, the idea that lots of women lie about being raped. In reality, only 2% of reported rapes turn out to be false – the same rate as for every other crime. These myths are harmful as they make people less likely to feel able to talk about what they have experienced.