Rape myths are problematic beliefs on sexual assault. But what’s made them so prevalent? According to University of Minnesota Duluth, they were uncritically and illogically linked to circumstances and individuals throughout our history. All thanks to gender role expectations and a patriarchal society.
We should stop propagating rape myths because they put blame on the victim, shame and judge the rape survivor—and blind us from recognizing a sexual assault.
Here are some of them:
1. Rape is just unwanted sex.
Fact: Rape is much more than unwanted sex. It’s a violent crime. Rapists threaten their victims’ lives.
2. Rape is a spontaneous act.
Fact: Most rapes are carefully planned. The rapist will usually commit the crime again and again.
3. A scantily clad woman wants sex.
Fact: Rapists target people who look vulnerable to them, not women who dress a certain way. Blaming the victims and the way they dress implies they deserved the assault. No one deserves it.
4. Rape only happens to attractive young women.
Fact: Rape can happen to anyone. Age, social class, and ethnicity don’t make people more prone to rape than others.
5. Only promiscuous women get raped.
Fact: As long as there are rapists, anyone is at risk of being raped, especially those who look weak to the rapist.
6. A drunk person is inviting rape.
Fact: A person who is drunk might be incapable of consenting to sex. And sex without consent is rape.
7. Women fantasize about rape.
Fact: No woman fantasizes about rape. There are fantasies on aggressive sex, but they end when they become life-threatening like rape.
8. Women say “no” when they mean “yes.”
Fact: When a woman says “no,” it means “no.”
9. A woman is asking to get raped if she goes to a sketchy area.
Fact: Going to a sketchy area is not saying “yes” to sex.
10. Rapists are done by complete strangers who lurk in dark areas.
Fact: Some rapists can be strangers in the dark, but not all strangers in the dark are rapists. More often than not, rape happens in familiar places and is done by people familiar to the victim.
11. Rapists are lustful, horny guys.
Fact: Rape is not about expressing desire. It’s about asserting one’s power and control over another person. A rapist finds humiliating and controlling his victims through sexual acts satisfying.
12. Rape is a crime of passion.
Fact: It’s an act of violence, not passion. It hurts and shames its victims.
13. It’s not rape if the woman and the man are in a relationship.
Fact: Regardless of relationship status, if someone doesn’t consent to the sexual act, he or she is being raped.
14. A victim who withdraws rape charges was never raped in the first place.
Fact: A victim withdraws the charge because of pressure from other people. This is the case when the rapist is the family’s breadwinner or when the victim fears backlash/revenge from the rapist’s friends or family.
15. Rape victims should “forget” about the rape.
Fact: As much as they have difficulties talking about the assault, all victims should be given the opportunity to talk about the rape to people close to them or to professionals. Telling them to forget about the rape gives them a harder time to recover from it.
16. Men can’t be raped.
Fact: This can happen. The idea that men can’t be raped is based on the idea that men perform sexual acts on women. But women can also force men into it, and men can say no to sex, too.
17. Potential victims can prevent rape.
Fact: More than half the time, rape involves life-threatening physical force or threat. No matter how much they try, most victims can’t defend themselves successfully from the strong and very aggressive rapist. Also, we can’t exactly prevent rape by looking or acting a certain way.
The best way to stop rape from happening is still to teach people not to rape. We should teach people to respect each other and to respect boundaries and consent. We must outwardly disapprove of people who brag about sexual abuse and violence.
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