North be boys” reinforces the idea that if

North American society hasbecome a basis for rape culture and sexual assault dismissal to flourish.

Thereare over 460, 000 sexual assaults every year in Canada and 97% of those perpetratorswill never face a jail sentence (Johnson, 2012). Behind the eyes of thesurvivors is a number of emotions, thoughts and feelings. The constant worrythat it will happen again, the fear, shame, guilt, embarrassment, the worrythat they’ll loose their job, house, family. Only 33% of female survivorsreport their experience to the police (Patel, 2014). Instead of asking “whatwere your wearing?”, “how much did you drink?”, and “why didn’t you report itsooner?”, recognize the mental and physical barriers that were put in placethat prevented the survivor. Understand the difficulties and discriminatorypractices put in place by the judicial and government systems against survivors.

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But also gain a better understanding of how our daily words, actions, and mediadirectly effect individuals affected by sexual misconduct.  The term “rape culture”is used to describe “a society in which sexual violence is prevalent, excused,and encouraged by popular attitudes, norms, and media messages” (Strain 2016).  Rape culture is constantly perpetrated inmedia and is imbedded into society. The music we hear, the words we speak, ouractions and the words we hear behind closed doors all contributes to thenormalization of sexual violence against women. Common phrases like “Boys willbe boys” reinforces the idea that if men commit sexual violence againstsomeone’s consent, they won’t be punished.

Victim-blaming attitudes such asthis, reinforce what the perpetrator has been saying all along; that it is thevictim’s fault this is happening (Southern Connecticut State University, 2017).By engaging in victim-blaming attitudes, society allows the abuser toperpetrate sexual assault while avoiding accountability for their actions.Sexualassault and violence against women has been ignored, normalized, and made intojokes. Catcalling, street harassment and sexual assault has been embedded intosociety which has lead to the normalization of it. In 2014, Stop Street Harassmentcommissioned a nationally representative survey in the United States. Thesurvey found that 65% of all women had experienced street harassment. Amongthose women, 23%  had been touchedinappropriately and 20% had been followed (Stop Street Harassment, 2014). Catcallingupholds the idea that women and femmes are objects to be desired and thatcatcallers have the right to objectify them.

The idea that catcalling isharmless shows that rape culture expects masculine folks to do or say whateverthey want regarding femme folks’ bodies without consequence.  When we say that catcalling is harmless,we’re actually reinforcing rape culture, because we’re silencing women andfemmes after they experience sexual harassment. Society has normalizedharassment against women as a way to protect and excuse the offender. When wesee no issue, it is because we have failed too see the truth behind each wordand action that instills sexual violence. We are in a society of passivity andtolerance, which allows sexual violence to persist.

It’s no surprise that wewould refuse to acknowledge that rape and sexual violence is the normality, wewould rather believe that they aren’t real or that, we can’t do anything aboutit. When we refuse to acknowledge the reality of rape culture we continue toallow offenders to go without penalty and leave survivors silenced. The government in theUnited States actively works towards silencing women and their ability to makedecisions. In 2013, 700 bills were proposed in the United States to regulate awoman’s body. 80% of those who proposed the bills were men (Strasser, 2013).  As of this year, two bills have been passed byhouse in order to stop funding for abortions and make abortions illegal afterfive months into the pregnancy (Govtrack, 2017). These law not only dictate andcontrol what women should do with their bodies but strip women of their basichuman rights.

Women who have been sexually assaulted and impregnated would beforced to give birth to a child despite the detriment it would cause on hermental and physical health. In a recent study done by the department ofObstetrics and Gynecology at the Medical University of South Carolina, Raperesults in 32,000 pregnancies each year (Holmes, 1996). This alone shows the potentialof power that men in the government and in daily life hold over all women. Thisdirectly correlates to the judicial system and the lack of appropriate penaltyfor perpetrators of sexual crimes.

In recent years, sexualassault cases have been emerging at an alarming rate. A number of individualshave come forward with their experiences with sexual assault. Even more alarmingis the leniency that our court systems bestow upon the perpetrators,specifically white men. With the soft judgments placed upon sexual offenders,it comes as no surprise that many people dismiss rape culture as feministpropaganda. However, statistical data serves as evidence that the courtsystems, and American society, must take rape culture more seriously for thesake of the men and women that suffer because of it.

A prime example of leniencyin the court room is the Brock Turner case. On January 18th, 2015, a Stanfordstudent named Brock Turner was found sexually assaulting an unconscious womanoutside a fraternity party. Turner was found guilty of five sexual assaultcharges, and faced a maximum sentence of ten years in jail. However, the judgeonly sentenced Turner to six months in jail; however, only served three monthsin prison (Webber, 2016). The judge stated that a longer sentence would havehad a “severe impact” on Turner (Webber, 2017). This type of turnout hasnegative impact on more than just the victim.

Brock Turner is a straight,wealthy, cis gendered white male. His privilege gave him three months in prisonrather than the maximum sentence of ten years. If we are to eradicate sexualviolence in our society, the justice system must stop sympathizing withrapists.           In a case done in October of 2017, juror Shawna Gore sharedher experience.

Gore was called in for jury duty for a sexual assault case- anintoxicated man sexually assaulted a woman outside of a nightclub. There were30 potential jurors in the room, twelve of which were women. The first questionthe defence attorney asked the women on jury was “have you ever been assaultedby a man?” All twelve women in the room said yes- later every woman wasdismissed from the pool of jurors. These women were deemed “impartial”.

Theoutcome of the trial would have gone differently if the men in the rr wereasked if they had ever assaulted anyone. By this action the court excused theabusive behaviour of the men in the room and deemed it as unimportant. Thelegal system is designed to protect victims of sexual assault, yet all it seemsto do is excuse the perpetrators and reinforce rape culture.          

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