RAPE CULTURE & THE #SurvivorPrivilege TREND
One of America’s leading news publications, The Washington Post, recently made headlines itself after publishing a controversial article about rape.
Penned by one of the Post’s conservative columnists George Will, the article expressed the author’s opinion that rape and sexual assault statistics—particularly in universities and colleges—are inaccurate. This is because he suspects that many rape victims actually lie about being raped. The reason? They say many progressive universities and colleges have turned being a victim into a “coveted status”, wherein the rape victim receives certain privileges for being a rape survivor.
RAPE CULTURE IN THE HEADLINES
It is not surprising that such views would be met with criticism and even straightforward outrage, with some critics stating that The Washington Post is seemingly promoting rape culture. There are many facets of rape culture but one underlying concept is true for all these facets. It is a misogynistic culture where the rapist’s actions are justified.
The rape crimes that seem to occur in India on a regular basis is one of the strongest symptoms of rape culture in the modern world. Just recently, two young girls were gang-raped, murdered and left hanging on a mango tree. And of course, there was the devastating case in 2012 where a young woman was gang-raped inside a bus, beaten and thrown out into the street to be left for dead. As if these crimes were not sufficiently horrifying in themselves, what makes violent crimes against women in India so atrocious is the fact that even the governments themselves find a way to justify these crimes. India’s leaders have been quoted making incredibly awful remarks about rape—from saying that it is a mental disorder that cannot be prevented, to claiming that it is “sometimes right”.
But you don’t have to look at countries across the world to find evidence of rape culture. It is, unfortunately, rampant in our own country. For example, there is still a prevalent ideology that rape victims are partially responsible for “provoking” the crime because of what they are wearing or how they are behaving, hence, deeming the rapist’s assault and violence as acceptable.
THE #SURVIVORPRIVILEGE HASHTAG
The George Will article is unfortunate because it only strengthened this rape culture, by implying that women “claim” to be rape victims because being a rape survivor allowed one certain privileges and special treatment.
As a response to Will’s article, the hashtag #SurvivorPrivilege went trending on Twitter, wherein actual rape victims shared the “privileges” they experienced as a result of being sexually assaulted. One victim lost most of her friends because they decided to choose to side with the rapist who was also part of their group. Another one contracted HIV as a result of rape but was not able to tell her own family. Many victims did tell their families, only to be met with skepticism or told back that the rape was their own fault. A couple other victims shared how they had to graduate and work alongside their rapists and pretend that nothing happened.
This Twitter trend aims to enlighten George Will—along with many who have never experienced being raped or violated—about what true rape victims goes through on a daily basis, and there is nothing privileged about it.
#SurvivorPrivilege was losing all my friends when they decided it was easier to remain friends with my rapist than stand with me.
— Robyn Swirling (@RSwirling) June 9, 2014
#SurvivorPrivilege is being told I lied because "nobody would do something like that" to a pregnant woman.
— Aimee (@AimeeRosie) June 9, 2014