Growing up in a misogynistic society I can safely say every girl and boy has had rape myths tattooed behind their eyeballs. If a girl is raped while drunk it is not her rapist’s fault but her own for getting drunk. If a girl is wearing something “scanty” and is raped it is her fault for dressing a way that awoke the sexual urges in her attacker. If a woman is raped by someone she knows it is her fault for trusting this person, for leading him on, for going into that room, for taking that long ride with them or whatever circumstances the rape occurred in. And if a woman is raped while walking home it is her fault for walking home late. These are some examples of rape myths that are prevalent in our society. This article will attempt to critically evaluate the illogical nature of rape myths and their negative effects in society.
What makes rape myths MYTHS is that they are untrue. They are based on the false assumption that rape is about sex. Psychology points out that rape is about power and sex is used as a tool for gaining this power. If rape was about sex then rapists would seek consentual sex with willing participants such as prostitutes instead of going to unwilling participants and risking jail-time if caught!
Rape myths absolve the perpetrator from his wrongdoing by placing the blame on the victim. By doing this, it reduces the male to a sex fiend that cannot control himself and should not be held accountable for his actions because of his bestial nature. And this is what makes rape myths misogynist. For they degrade the male; he becomes a predator , controlled by his sexual impulses. If we are to subscribe to this flawed logic then society ought to emasculate or lock up all men in a mental institute since there are all a danger to women and children as they have the reasoning capacity of a rabid dog.
Rape myths do not only absolve the perpetrator but also society from its responsibility to protect its women and children and the responsibility to teach its men to respect the rights of their mothers, sisters and wives. Rape myths tell women rape is okay. And that enjoying their freedom of dressing or/and freedom to get drunk or freedom to go to different parts of town or freedom to be flirtatious should be punished. That only men should enjoy these freedoms. They also make it difficult for a rape victim to report her attack since she is worried about the shame and victim-blaming associated with rape . This is why rape is the most under-reported crime.
Subscribing to rape myths in all forms is the same as thinking that thieves that break into houses do so because people own nice things and therefore to avoid being broken into house owners should not own nice things. And that the burglar should be absolved from their crime because the house owner has expensive things. By giving blame to the victim (even partially) one takes away the guilt from the actual wrongdoer.
I know that we often perpetuate rape myths (myself included) without thinking about what we are really saying. That is because rape myths have been so ingrained in us from such a young age that we do not even recognise their fallacious nature. I plead with you dear reader to evaluate the rape myths that you believe and see that their effects are devastating to the victim and a society as a whole. Rape myths hinder the healing process of a victim. Rape is a traumatic experience that takes years to recover from(if at all). By telling the victim you are to blame we are not helping her at all for the victim often blames herself even if she is not to blame. Even if we feel that the victim is to blame let us remember to hold the true culprit responsible for his actions.