Not all men are rapists. However, there is a pervasive culture of gendered violence that is acceptable among some men.
By Doreen Nicoll
Published May 11, 2015
this article has been updated
This is the fourth article in a series for Sexual Assault Prevention Month. This series of articles addresses the issue of sexual assault. The material might be upsetting to some readers. Please take the necessary precautions and have a plan of self-care in place.
Sexual assault is a crime that has far-reaching effects felt by all Canadian girls and women. A 2004 General Social Survey found that 58 percent of Canadian women using public transit were worried about their safety after dark while waiting for or using public transit. 27 percent of women were worried about being alone in their own homes at night. 16 percent of women felt unsafe walking alone after nightfall.
Canadian communities are impacted by sexual assault. Survivors may experience lost potential and productivity. There are immediate and long-term physical and psychological affects that add to health care costs. Funding is required for rape crisis centres, counselling, police and victim services, court and legal costs, as well as correctional services. These are all important reasons why it's imperative to prevent sexual violence.
The Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC) reported that 12 to 17 year old Canadians are the primary consumers of pornography. 35 percent of these youth admitted watching sexually violent scenes while 37 percent watched sexually explicit videos on a regular basis.
METRAC also found that exposure to violence and/or pornography increases:
At the same time, empathy for rape victims declines.
Pornography alone cannot be blamed for rape. However, pornography portrays unhealthy, unrealistic relationships where men are verbally and physically abusive towards women. This plays a role in desensitizing individuals, especially teens, to the act and outcomes of rape.
Not all men are rapists. However, there is a pervasive culture of gendered violence that is acceptable among some men. The Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario released a fact sheet entitled Sexual Violence on Campuses which included the following disturbing statistics:
A study entitled, "Denying Rape but Endorsing Forceful Intercourse: Exploring Differences Among Responders," was published by the Journal of Violence and Gender (Mar 2015, Vol. 2). A synopsis written by Ximena Ramirez highlighted the fact that the study asked male participants two questions:
When rape was described as coercing or forcing, 32 percent of participants admitted to using this behaviour. When the term "rape" was used only 13.6 percent admitted to the exact same behaviour.
Media is very influential when it comes to shaping the attitudes young men have about sexual assault. Recently, Bud Light added a new tag line to some of its bottles: "The perfect beer for removing 'no' from your vocabulary for the night" along with the hashtag #upforwhatever. This ad campaign reinforces rape culture.
A petition recently started demanding Bud Light end the campaign, pull existing product with the tag line and make a financial donation to promote pro-active consent education.
Positive pushback is happening on Canadian campuses where student led campaigns are working to counter rape culture and create more equitable learning and living environments. For more than twenty years the Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario has been promoting the "No Means No' campaign. If you don't have consent, it's sexual assault or rape.
Last word goes to students from Carlton University who know that "No Means No".
Update: updated the sentence "...a pervasive culture of gendered violence that is acceptable among men" to add the clarifier "some". Thanks to the RTH reader who pointed this out. You can jump to the changed paragraph.
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