“But What Were You Wearing?”

By: Sierra Voorhies

Trigger Warning: rape culture, victim blaming, and sexual assault. 

I’m not quite sure how to start this blog, but I think I will start with the phrase, “What were they wearing?” This is a common question that has been asked in cases of rape and sexual assault, and it perpetuates and supports rape culture. Rape culture is “the belief that victims have contributed to their own victimization and are responsible for what has happened to them” (University of New Hampshire SHARPP). The question “What were you wearing?” implies that someone’s outfit could consent for them to sexual acts, but no matter what someone is wearing, clothing – slutty, provocative, or skimpy – does not give consent for the wearer. Behind this question is the idea that there is some dress, jeans, or some outfit that could make the victim actually the one culpable for the crime against them because they are somehow “asking for it”.

By asking a victim of rape or sexual assault this question, one is placing the blame back on the victim for the crime perpetrated against them. Imagine asking someone, “Why were you wearing that watch? What were you doing in that suit?” This is an outrageous and illogical question,  because it’s obvious in this scenario that the victim does not hold any of the blame for the crime done against them. The same thought must be applied to victims of sexual assault.

In order to bring awareness and growth to the UMKC community, the Women’s Center is doing a display called “What Were They Wearing?” full of outfits that were worn by people when they were assaulted. This display will show how rape culture and victim blaming are part of the rape myth. You can join us on Wednesday April 27 from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. on the second floor of the Student Union, as well as Thursday, April 28 to see the display and get connected with more information. 

Thank you for supporting our programming during Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Throwback Thursday

Crossing the Line cover

In November of 2011, the American Association of University Women conducted a comprehensive survey with a national sample of students grades 7-12. The report offers the most comprehensive research on sexual harassment to date in these ages and reveals some sobering statistics about the prevalence of sexual harassment and the negative impact it has on students’ education.

The report concludes with concrete recommendations and promising practices for preventing sexual harassment. The recommendations are directed at school administrators, educators, parents, students, and community members. The AAUW hopes to inspire readers to take action to help stop this unfortunate epidemic.

Click the link here to download the full report or executive summary as well as additional resources.

http://www.aauw.org/research/crossing-the-line/?utm_content=bufferdbce8&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

 

Throwback Thursday

By: Amanda Johnson

Last June, the World Health Organization published a revealing and haunting study. WHO found that nearly one-third of all women in the world have experienced physical or sexual violence by a partner or sexual violence from a non-partner. WHO calls violence against women a global health problem of epidemic proportions.

Click the links to learn more:

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2013/violence_against_women_20130620/en/

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs239/en/

The Prevalence of “Rape Culture” in Today’s Society

By Amber Charleville

After the recent events of Maryville, a story so close to home (Maryville is an hour and a half north of Kansas City), I thought it might be a good idea to refresh old readers and introduce new readers to what the phrase “rape culture” means.

Here is a definition from the Marshal University Women’s Center’s website: “Rape Culture is an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture.  Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence, thereby creating a society that disregards women’s rights and safety.”

I don’t want to get into a detailed response to the circumstances of Maryville other than to wish for justice to prevail for all involved, but I think it’s important to reflect on the way rape culture impacts and influences our lives when we’re presented with these sorts of horrible, harsh examples. Every two minutes, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted (RAINN.org), and with those sort of sobering statistics in our faces, we can’t deny that something is seriously wrong with our culture.

From songs like “Blame it on the Alcohol” and “Blurred Lines” to advertisements, entertainment, and news sources that perpetuate the commodification and objectification of women’s bodies, everywhere we turn we are exposed to this culture of rape that encourages men to rape and women to stay silent when they are attacked.

I encourage you all to take a moment to reflect on these things and think of ways you can work for change in your daily lives. Even something as simple as telling a friend that a “rape joke” is not okay can make a difference. I want to leave you with the below video to help you think about and recognize rape culture in action:

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJ5dftyWOxo[/youtube]