Editor’s Note: This is part of a project to better connect the Daily Lobo with the University of New Mexico Communication and Journalism Department.
Kate Harding spoke at the University of New Mexico Thursday night, to address the myths of rape culture in her lecture, “Taking Down Rape Culture.”
Harding said she is a proud feminist and author of several books concerning rape, rape culture and feminism. Her lecture came during UNM’s Campus Safety Week and National Campus Safety Awareness Month.
“I believe this talk will help people to understand more about what rape culture is,” said Rob Burford, the Office of Equal Opportunity Clery Act compliance officer. “It’s important that other people hear about that.”
Harding defined rape culture as the normalization of sexual assault and abuse within our society. She gave examples, such as laughing at rape jokes — like a prison inmate dropping a bar of soap — or “totally getting raped” by someone in a video game.
Harding said this kind of terminology that transforms rape into a joke goes unnoticed, because we see it everywhere. We watch it in “romantic comedies that normalize stalking,” she said. We watch it in every romantic scene where “suddenly you have these two-people kissing each other and then fall into bed and there is never a word exchanged.”
“Consent is everything,” said Sarah East, Women’s Resource Center communications assistant. “You need to make sure that you have consent, that everyone participating in whatever you’re doing is enthusiastic.”
“In Rick and Morty a jelly bean tries to rape a boy in a cartoon, and after watching how (Harding) presented rape in pop culture, it made me rethink if that was actually funny,” UNM student Kaya Begay said.
The three main myths Harding addresses are: victim blaming, express disbelief and exonerating the perpetrator.
Harding said rapists are the only reason rape happens — not alcohol, not what the victim is wearing, not anything else but the rapists.
“You are very much taught to blame victims and to do anything you can to kind of let the perpetrator off the hook so you don’t have deal with the reality that some people who look like really nice people…might also be the kind of people that commit sexual violence,” Harding said.
Harding said victims look like ordinary people, just like rapists do, explaining that some believe rapists look a certain way, when in reality they look like their victims: ordinary.
Finally, Harding explained how to escape rape culture by breaking down human prejudices and encouraging the support of victims, rather than attacking them.
Amy Byres is a UNM student enrolled in CJ171 and a guest reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DailyLobo.