Rape culture is a heated topic that has been hugely exacerbated by the media and its treatment of the topic. We’ve seen how specific incidents have sparked a media frenzy and caused all sorts of polarizing reactions to the people involved.
We have seen the way certain celebrities and high-profile athletes seem to get raked over the coals by the court of public opinion, but all that seems to do is in fact enhance their profile somehow, and people eventually forget about their crimes and misdemeanors. Meanwhile, victims all over the country are having a tough time being taken seriously.
Rape and consent is not a black and white issue according to legislation in certain states, so you can imagine how that has a trickle-down effect in the way society views it. We hear rape jokes on television, in stand-up comedy and hear it in our music.
Women are the majority of rape victims in the United States and across the world, yet somehow their is some sort of consensus that her morals need to be questioned, rather than approach this as a sex crime.
This frustrating issue was explored in a slam poetry event in Oakland, CA at the prelims of the 2o14 National Poetry Slam by artists Freequency and Desiree Dallagiacomo. Their 3 minute piece called “American Rape Culture” points to a specific area of pop culture which they say has a massive effect on how we view rape today.
They call out certain artists like Robin Thicke and his controversial hit from 2013 ‘Blurred Lines’ and other music stars whose lyrics we have all sung along to for years, but may not even realize how it is dumbing down the seriousness of rape. One song is a popular Christmas track we hear on the radio, in stores and at parties each season, which will definitely make think differently about singing “Baby It’s Cold Outside” this year!
Rick Ross, Ben Harper and Tyler The Creator are just a few other musicians mentioned, who the duo call “Rapists in sheep’s clothing”.
Here’s a list Upworthy put together of the songs mentioned in the video and the greater implications that are not often thought of when the lyrics are being blasted:
1. “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke and Pharrell: As if the title and lyrics weren’t bad enough, Robin Thicke went on to say how it was a pleasure to degrade women. Here’s how some real rape survivors responded to his song.
2. “You Don’t Even Know It” by Rick Ross: Lyrics to this song include: “I put molly [ecstasy] all in her Champagne / she ain’t even know it / I took her home and enjoyed that / she ain’t even know it.” Ross’ glorification of rape got him dropped by Reebok. He later made a statement with an apology … sort of.
3. “The Wrong Way” by Sublime: One of Sublime’s hit songs is about a 12-year-old girl sold for sex by her dad and brother. Even though the song is kinda self-aware and the narrator expresses pity for her, he still rationalizes what he does by saying that he’s “only a man.”
4. “Blame It on the Alcohol” by Jamie Foxx: I think Jamie Foxx can only blame himself for lyrics like: “Just one more round and you’re down, I know it / Couple more shots you open up like a book.” That’s not consent. That’s rape. In fact, studies show that rapists deliberately use alcohol as a tool to choose their victims.
5. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” written by Frank Loesser: This song is supposed to be cute, but it’s really about coercing a woman into having sex. It’s so bad, there’s a parody sketch on it. Several, in fact.
6. Tyler the Creator: I can’t limit this to just one song because his themes in general are about raping, killing, and mutilating women. Why is this allowed?
7. “Steal My Kisses” by Ben Harper: In the song, Harper sings, “I always have to steal my kisses from you / You wouldn’t even come around to see me / And since you’re headin’ up to Carolina / You know I’m gonna be right there behind you.” Note to songwriters: Stalking is not romantic. (That goes for you too, Sting.)
8. “Summer Nights” by Grease: It’s all summer fun until the Greasers ask Danny, “Did she put up a fight?” It’s beyond awkward — it’s against the law.
“In less than 40 years rape has been refined from punishable by death to qualifier,” goes the poem in the video below. “Rape joke, rape song, rape scene. From birth American culture teaches children which gender they will be: the perpetrator or the victim.”
“We teach our boys control. Don’t give in, don’t be a pussy. Take! Take! Take! We teach our girls ‘I know you want it’, ‘don’t scream’, ‘don’t fight back’, Take it! Take it! Take it!”
“Rape…now laughs loudest when comedians use rape as punch lines, crown prom kings while girls are sent home for wearing outfits too tempting for young boys,” they continue calling out the inherent and dangerous double standards that not only exist, but seek to perpetrate rape culture. It is any wonder some young men are raised to genuinely think girls purely exist for their sexual pleasure, when all they see and hear are lyrics like the ones listed above, and see the star treatment some famous pro athletes are still getting despite their crimes?
This video may have been from December 2014 according to the date on Youtube, but it is definitely not past its use-by date. It is relevant now and needs to be shared far and wide.
These are the messages that need to infiltrate the mindless culture that doesn’t seek to question the way rape is treated in entertainment, instead willingly goes along with and and then scratches its head wondering how we got in so deep. Let’s make conscious choices not to laugh at rape jokes, not to tell them, not to slut-shame, not to victim-blame, and not to excuse the actions of a perpetrator because of status.
Watch “American Rape Culture”: