No one teaches a boy to be a rapist, but teaches him to feel superior to girls, and teaches a girl to feel inferior. According to lawyer Leticia Lessa, a Master’s student in Law at the Federal University of Paraná with research in domestic violence and former member of the Maria da Penha Nucleus of the State University of Maringá (NUMAPE-UEM), there are, in this sense, research that indicates that girls aged 6 years no longer consider themselves intelligent and give up activities.
Although they appear subtle, daily acts contribute to this feeling of superiority of the boys and, finally, to the practice of rape. The culture of rape begins at home, when certain male behaviors are taken for granted and girls are reprimanded for acts of violence suffered. Understand more below.
What is the culture of rape
The rape culture exists because we are in a context of profound gender inequality. In other words, there is a dehumanization of women and an objectification of their bodies, and this starts at an early age. In this sense, countless comments serve to further reinforce this culture, although they are considered by many to be jokes.
Lessa also indicates that, in a survey conducted in 2013, it was found that more women interviewed declared that they had suffered situations of violence than men interviewed acknowledged having committed. For example, while 25 women reported having been cursed or assaulted for having rejected a male assault, only 5 men admitted to having committed such an assault. In other words, for men, acting in a superior and aggressive manner towards women is often so naturalized that they do not even perceive it as violence.
What we consume on television also contributes a lot to the construction of the rape culture. Many programs and advertisements place women as objects of desire or in a position of submission, as the figure that is made to take care of the home and children and, generally, is in a position inferior to that of men. In this sense, the same lawyer consulted recalls a survey by the Patrícia Galvão Institute, carried out in 2013, which revealed that 65% of Brazilian women do not see themselves in the advertisements shown on television, and that for 35% of them, women are never presented as a smart person.
While the girls are growing up, the parents censor their clothes and bodies, even though the censorship is disguised as care and concern. In relation to boys, this zeal is much less. These are some examples of how everyday practices help to formalize the culture of rape, because they reinforce the idea that men can do much more than women. The feeling of superiority leads them to believe that, because they can do more, they can also disregard their consent – they do not ask, they do not expect and / or they do not accept “no”.
Why talk about the culture of rape
The need to talk about the culture of rape is revealed mainly when one observes a data such as that brought by the research of the Avon Institute / Data Popular, according to which, spontaneously, only 10% of the women interviewed reported having suffered violence in the university environment, but when they were encouraged with a list of situations of violence, that percentage increased to 67%. In the same way with men: only 2% spontaneously admitted the practice of some act of violence. However, with the stimulus on the list, that number jumped to 38%.
Furthermore, when sexual violence in a society is often considered the victim’s fault, it is because there is a culture of rape. And the details of everyday life further reinforce this habit: many behaviors and characteristics of the victim are used as justifications for the violence suffered. It is as if the woman does not have a right over her own body and her will.
When we doubt the victim and relegate violence because of his past or his sexual practices, we are reinforcing the culture of rape. In this culture, it is more acceptable to believe in a supposed natural malice of women than to recognize that men commit rape. That is precisely why machismo maintains the rape culture, and talking about it is the first step to deconstruct this practice.
6 facts to better understand the culture of rape
A series of myths about rape and the culture that perpetuates it are spread daily. Check out the facts below to better understand:
1. Girls are the weaker sex
The woman is expected to be delicate, behaved and care for the well-being of the man, who is supposedly stronger and more courageous. As Evelin Cavalini, national adviser on women’s rights in the ministry of women, family and human rights and co-founder of the association None to Less, recalls, these differences are not biological, but socially constructed, and establish a relationship of superiority of a gender over the other. That is where the idea comes from that men cannot cry and that women should be responsible for everything – including the violence they may suffer.
2. The culture of rape is disseminated by the media
On TV, music and advertising, women are exploited and presented as if they were a “thing” and not a human being. Although this may seem harmless, it makes many men, from an early age, understand that the female body has no value and that it exists only to serve them – that is, they begin to attack, maim, rape and murder women based on this ideal. On this subject, Cavalini indicates the book “The male domination”, by the French philosopher Pierre Bourdieu, which explains how society “authorizes” men to feel that they have property over female bodies.
3. Rape culture has nothing to do with love
Sending or sharing videos that defame known or unknown, disqualifying women simply because of gender, romanticizing jealousy, consuming pornography and sexualizing children are practices that contribute to the culture of rape. That idea that the classmate at school hit his friend because he likes her is an example of this, and teaches that love can be measured with pain.
In addition, Cavalini recalls that it was only in 2005 that the rapist could not be punished if he married the victim in the penal code, and that marital rape is still debated (although, by law, it is a crime). Society still understands that the married woman has “conjugal duties” and that the husband’s will overrides the wife’s will. Examples like these reveal how the culture of rape is rooted in society.
4. The rapist may be someone very close
Rapists are not always unknown. In fact, according to Civil Police clerk Paula Apoloni, founder of the Batom Patrol project, in about 80% of cases, the rapist is a known person, such as a father, stepfather, uncle, grandfather or neighbor, among others.
Rape happens everywhere and occurs whenever the woman does not consent to the sexual act – even if it is with her husband or boyfriend. For this reason, as lawyer Leticia Lessa recalls, it is important not only to teach girls early on that no one has the right to touch their bodies without consent, but also for boys to hear and accept the “no”, even if it is without words. That is, consent is a premise for any sexual contact. What must be deduced is always no and never yes.
5. Nothing justifies rape
Regardless of clothes, appearance, behavior or alcoholic degree, nothing justifies violence against women. Even during a sexual act, she has the right to say no and to want to stop there. Putting these issues into evidence is a characteristic of the rape culture, which is more concerned with pointing out “defects” in the victim’s behavior than worrying about the rapist.
In this sense, Evelin Cavalini recalls that a case that had worldwide repercussions was that of a Canadian student raped on the campus of a university who, when seeking help from a guard, heard from her that she would have been raped because she was dressed “like a bitch” . This is the origin of the demonstrations entitled “march of the bitches”, which questioned the culture of rape and fought for the woman’s right to be where, how and when she wants without being raped.
6. Whoever is silent does not consent
The idea that the woman “drank because she wanted to and knew the risk she was taking” is a recurring thought for many men who commit sexual violence, but do not see themselves as rapists. It is important to emphasize that if the woman is not in full capacity to agree to the sexual act, it is rape.
It is very important that we keep these points in mind. This avoids the reproduction of speeches that perpetuate the culture of rape and makes us more aware of our rights on a daily basis.
The culture of rape in Brazil
Women’s fear of sexual violence is enormous. On this issue, the lawyer and researcher Leticia Lessa mentions the Local Democracy Index survey, from the Sivis Institute, carried out in the city of Curitiba, in Paraná, in which 73% of the women interviewed said they were afraid to go out alone, especially at night . In addition, 23.47% of women rule out the possibility of walking alone, while only 11.47% of men do.
According to another survey, conducted by Datafolha, in 2016, 33% of the population believes that the victim is guilty in a rape case. We are talking about one in three Brazilians.
Among men, thinking is even more common: 42% of them say that “women who behave well are not raped”. This data proves that the culture of rape has very deep social roots and needs to be discussed in order to learn how to fight it.
Counselor Evelin Cavalini recalls that the “Chega de Fiu Fiu” campaign, launched in 2013, by Think Olga and the Feminist anti-pedophilia page are examples of 21st century movements in the face of the rape culture. The first fight against sexual harassment in public places and the second against pornography that targets women and entices girls. Cavalini reinforces the belief that everyone must be attentive and vigilant in order to combat the culture of rape and the evil it represents for our society.
Videos to reflect a little more
We have separated some videos that help to complement the vision about the culture of rape and how men and women can fight it. Check out:
Understand the culture of rape in minutes
How many women do you know have been harassed on the street? Do you think that this has nothing to do with sexual violence, as it is just a teaser? That is where you are wrong: we are talking about a practice that is part of the culture of rape. This video will help you understand.
Social networks spread the culture of rape
In this Jout Jout video, she comments on an episode that occurred with a 12-year-old girl who participated in a TV show. This is also part of the rape culture and you will understand why playing the video.
Origins of the rape culture in Brazil
In this video, researcher Djamila Ribeiro comments on the origin of the rape culture in Brazil, which goes back to the time when slave masters went to the slave quarters to rape women.
Tea and consent
If you have ever felt in the position of thinking that “just drawing” for certain people to understand how the issue of consent works, perhaps this video will help. He is extremely didactic and uses the tea metaphor to talk about consenting to sexual intercourse (but not only).
Other research and data on the subject
There is a lot of research and initiatives gathering data and trying to make society aware of the rape culture. Some of them are:
The culture of rape is directly linked to the way society educates boys and girls and, therefore, it is essential that the deconstruction of these gender identities be done. To better understand how machismo silences and can appear in a very subtle way, learn to recognize sexism. Let’s watch out for all the signs!