How Did Rape Become a Culture for Young Men?

I want to address men, young men and fathers alike, because it’s our responsibility to change this heinous “culture.”

How did we get here? What led young men to believe that sex is a thing to be forcibly inflicted on young women? What led them to see themselves so dishonorably and to view women so cheaply? Sin unchecked, sex commoditized, and selves worshiped. Young men live without boundaries and with no sense of who they are or what place sex has in life.

 

Rape culture.

I am raising two daughters in a country where this phrase exists, and it is sickening. How can I protect them? How can I raise them to protect themselves?

This phrase is uttered daily with diminishing disgust, not because we are more accepting of rape but because we are progressively anesthetized to its horror because of its prevalence. And the prevalence is terrifying and nauseating

Think about that—rape culture.

A culture in which the violent theft of peace, innocence, wholeness, and well-being is normative.

A culture in which sexual coercion and attacks are just part of life.

A culture in which young women have no advocates, no security, and no value except “twenty minutes of action.” 

Words cannot do justice to how repulsive this is. No woman is ever at fault for an assault done to her. No woman bears blame because a man coerces or forces her into a sexually compromising position. And no unwanted sexual act toward a woman is defensible or ignorable.

So I want to address men, young men and fathers alike, because it’s our responsibility to change this heinous “culture.”

Rape Culture and The Male Athlete

Just these past few weeks we have seen the football program at Baylor University turned upside down as a pattern of sexual assault came to light and it was shown that the athletic director and football coaches did little or nothing to resolve them.

In another well-publicized case a judge sentenced a former Stanford University swimmer to a mere six months in prison—a sentence which he will serve only half of—for raping an unconscious woman because a longer sentence would “have a severe effect on him.” (I should hope so—that is the point of punishment for crimes, after all.)

While these stories were rightly drawing outrage the Washington Post published an article revealing that more than half the college men they surveyed admitted to coercing a partner into sex.

These three stories are disgustingly exemplary of what rape culture is—young men feeling little remorse or hesitation at harming young women and a system of authority that does little to hinder or correct them.

They are not isolated incidents either. In 2014 a female University of Missouri swimmer committed suicide after her rape was not investigated or dealt with by the school or University police.

Nearly every week you can find a story of a male athlete being dismissed from a team for a violent act against a woman. The University of Louisville’s men’s basketball team has been investigated for using female escorts to lure recruits, a tactic rumored to be used widely elsewhere. Are these actions rape? Not technically, but they are exploitative of women and indicative of how so many men view them—all part of rape culture.

I don’t know whether such actions are more prevalent among athletes or simply more publicized, but it seems that their privileged position on college campuses gives some athletes a sense of invulnerability and the system that is supposed to provide oversight actually provides protection from justice.

How did we get here? What led young men to believe that sex is a thing to be forcibly inflicted on young women? What led them to see themselves so dishonorably and to view women so cheaply? Sin unchecked, sex commoditized, and selves worshiped. Young men live without boundaries and with no sense of who they are or what place sex has in life.

Our Sexual Ethic: No Ethic At All

Our country has a broken sexual ethic. It might be more accurate to say we have no sexual ethic.

Sex has no boundaries, no purpose but self-pleasure, and no defined place. It is how we define fulfillment, and in a culture that values self over all else that means an individual’s pursuit of sex can easily go unchecked.

 

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