Her Me Out's Running Definitions
Not always sure what the heck I’m talking about? Learn more with my list of running definitions to help you become a master at spotting and combatting rape culture!
**First things first, I often use quite binary language. Woman, man. Female, male. When I use these words, I intend for them to be inclusive of male and female identifying people. Additionally, some of the issues I discuss can be quite heteronormative in nature, as they’re meant to define the gender norms that we’ve been cordoned into.
I do my best to point this out slash use more inclusive language. But tell me if I’m being dumb. It’s always good to know!
Perpeturapetion is a concept that I use a lot here. It’s one I developed when I first started talking about rape culture (see the definition below) in the way that I do. And it all came from the documentary that I made as the thesis for my Masters degree.
Simply, perpeturapetion is the perpetuation of rape culture in the media or everyday life. We’ve grown up in a world that has perpeturaped us, and so we consistently perpeturape ourselves. And, it turns out, it’s pretty fun - and crazy important - to talk about it.
So let’s talk about rape culture and why it’s so hard to shake! Tell me something dumb you accidentally said that wasn’t great for women, and I’ll tell you about the time I laughed at a joke that made me super uncomfortable rather than shutting it down immediately.
And never forget: it’s a culture, people! So let’s get into what rape culture really means so you can start pointing out perpeturapetion.
Rape culture is made up of the parts of culture that allow, encourage or support the rape and sexual assault of - largely - women. It also includes the misrepresentation and subsequent abuse of why rape and sexual assault occur.
It encompasses a whole lot of bull that will make you super furious and a little nauseous. And once you start to recognize rape culture, you’ll undoubtably see it absolutely everywhere! (Are we having fun yet??)
It’s in the way that we praise men for their sexual endeavors and discredit women for theirs. It’s why women have to choose between being a prude or being a slut - with either option being negative.
Rape culture continues to be defined and frequently rejected as well. And even if you aren’t one hundred percent sure about what it is, I think you kinda know that it exists. Just look at the #MeToo movement, and you’re on your way to perceiving a culture that we feel but struggle to define.
For a better understanding of rape culture and how it is often used to undermine women, let’s move on to Rape Myths!
Rape myths are the fictional stories we tell to explain why rape occurs so as to deflect blame. For all of history, we’ve loved to blame women, and not just for their own sexual attacks. And because it’s so natural for us to blame women for small things, it’s even more natural for us to blame them for huge things - like rape.
Have you ever heard a story about a woman being asked what they were wearing on the day they were raped? This is probably the most widely recognized rape myth: that a woman’s appearance warrants rape or sexual assault.
Rape myths also include language such as “she was asking for it” or “boys will be boys”. Additionally, they’re often used in rape cases to subtly encourage jurors and judges to lay blame on victims for their own behavior - which contributes to why women are afraid to report rape.
Rape myths work because they’ve been used throughout history. They permeate our most common stories & narratives and have lasted through the ages.
To understand why rape myths have lasted for so long, it’s important to understand Symbolic Annihilation.
Have you ever gone to a museum and thought to yourself…but where are all the women?
Feel free to exchange museum for movie, play or television show. And if you haven’t experience this, maybe you need to look a bit closer at who is mostly being represented.
Symbolic annihilation was first used by George Gerbner in 1976 to describe the the absence of or under-representation of marginalized groups in the mainstream media. It can be used in terms of race, sexual orientation, gender and so on, but here we focus mostly on the symbolic annihilation of women.
This kind of symbolic annihilation is not only about under-representation but includes the misrepresentation of women, which has symbolically tarnished the idea of how women are defined in mainstream society.
This is why it’s so hard for women to be seen in roles of power, as masculine or unfeminine and even to break out of the accepted female narratives of ingenue or whore.
The symbolic annihilation of women has tainted the stories that we tell about women, thus affecting how we view women in the world and the spaces we find them fit to be.
And this is all ultimately a product of the male gaze, something we’ll be defining next!
The Male Gaze
Ahh the Male Gaze. We’ve all been Male Gazed at for far too long, my friends.
So the Male Gaze is a term used in feminist theory to describe how women have been depicted throughout history. The easiest way to understand this term is to think of the Male Gaze as a lens that we’ve viewed gender through. This lens has played a huge role in how we represent women in our media and culture, and, let me tell you, the people holding the camera have certainly not been women.
Instead, the Male Gaze has provided us with a primarily masculine and heterosexual idea of the world, which in turn depicts women as sexual objects, objects of desire or just not how women would choose to represent themselves.
And it kinda effing sucks.
Because of the Male Gaze, women have struggled to break into the mainstream media to tell their own stories. It’s also lead to a toxic idea of masculinity that a lot of men feel bound to, which is just as destructive.
But not to worry, change is in the air thanks to Badass Women.
I’m not sure how much this term needs defining, but I use it a lot. So we’ll go ahead and give it the praise it deserves.
Badass women are the ladies out there that support each other and who you should be supporting. They are stellar people whose aim is to bring inclusivity and agency to the female, trans, & LQBTQ community, consciousness and body.
How to identify a badass woman? Just listen to her. You’ll probably see pretty quickly that the badass is there.
I’ll be updating this post as more terms become relevant. Keep checking in if you aren’t sure what the hell I’m talking about! Not sure how much it will help but lord will I try.