Rape Culture: The Brett Kavanaugh Case

Sophia Bare, Reporter

On Saturday, October 6th, Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a Supreme Court justice by the Senate with a vote of 50-48-1 (for – against – abstaining), proving once again, how little the United States cares about women and sexual abuse victims. Of course, it is not anything outstanding, more like one of the many nails (not the final, for most likely many more will be to come) pounded into the coffin that is rape culture in the US. And yes, I said rape culture. Whenever an activist wants to talk about the culture in America that commodifies women’s bodies, defangs the vicious nature of abusers (serial and otherwise) and devalues the experiences of women who have been sexually harassed (and by extent male and other survivors of sexually charged violence) — and they dare use the phrase “rape culture” — it seems an innumerable amount of people come out of the woodwork to admonish the phrase, and by extension, the concept. The defense of America seems to rely on racism targeted towards Middle Eastern and African countries accusing them of being much harsher in terms of sexual violence towards women. In reality, these people who say this most likely do not care about women who are victims of sexual violence in those countries, only using their pain as a “gotcha” to activists who (surprising! I know) care about more than one issue at a time.

But what even is rape culture? As the WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre puts it, rape culture is “is a term that was coined by feminists in the United States in the 1970’s… designed to show the ways in which society blamed victims of sexual assault and normalized male sexual violence.” Nothing is more indicative of that than the fact that the President of the United States (who has 17 outstanding sexual assault allegations against him) nominated a Supreme Court judge who was accused of sexual assault by two separate women and who went through a scathing court trial where he acted a blubbery, uncoordinated mess. Yet he still got confirmed to be a Supreme Court justice — a lifetime commitment to law and order. When I heard this, I was in shock. I underestimated how vitriolic and apathetic politics was — towards women, towards people of color, towards oppressed minorities and victims. And what can we do? A democracy is supposed to be for the people yet… is this what the people want? At the same time I am not blind, nor am I naive. I see the way men joke about sexual assault. I see how they ogle a woman’s body. I see the numerous number of celebrities who walk away scot-free (Woody Allen, Casey Affleck, Luc Besson, etc.) from charges of child rape, sexual abuse and so on and so forth. Rape accusations don’t destroy people’s lives. I have seen enough powerful men walk free and leave their victims traumatized to know that. That sounds like rape culture to me.