The Impact Of Media On The Perception Of Rape - Feminist Literature - Essay

2684 words - 11 pages

Rape is defined as the unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse that is
carried out forcibly against a person's will. However, this definition does not encompass the
pain or fear victims of rape experience. Nor does it address the fact that for every 1000 rapes,
only six rapists are put on trial, found guilty, and sent to jail. It does not even mention the high
suicide, drug abuse, or alcohol abuse rates that are common among victims. Rape is a heinous
crime that cannot be described, and while it is at the forefront of American social and cultural
consciousness, the collective understanding is that rape is an uncommon act that is spontaneously
committed by strangers and is the woman's fault for reasons ranging from seductive clothing to
intoxication. However, this stereotype could not be more wrong and The Accused, a movie about
a rape case, Rape Poem, which describes emotions felt by women, and Till it Happens to
You, a song articulating how rape affects everyone, are three sources that seek to comment on
rape and shift the common understanding of this issue. They do this by providing examples of
how the law handles rape, emotions aroused by rape, and comments commonly made to rape
victims, which attack rape culture and creates a new collective understanding of the causes and
effects of rape.

In order to gain a better understanding of the issue of rape in America, some background
knowledge is needed about what rape culture was like prior to 1970. Although women started
taking a larger role in the workforce and in society during the 1900s due to new rights and war,
many women still did not speak out about their rapes or issues in the work environment. Cases
like Cordella Stevenson and nearly 115 other rapes and lynchings occurred between the time
period between 1850 and 1950. For example, 14-year-old Celia was a female slave in 1855 who
was brought over to America by Robert Newsome (Segrave). Newsome repeatedly raped Celia
and one night, after her third pregnancy, Celia fought back, killing Newsome. She was then
executed for the crime of killing her rapist because the law did not recognize African American
rights nor did it recognize women's right to the control of their own body (Seagrave). In Cordella
Stevensons' case, she was brutally gang raped and lynched in the town of Columbus, Mississippi
in 1915 (Segrave). The reason? Some white townsmen had a hunch that her son had burned a
white man's barn down a few months before (Segrave). Her body, found hanging just a few
yards away from the train station, was left mutilated, hanging there naked, for everyone to see
for an entire day before the sheriff finally removed the body (Segrave). So many cases similar to
these happened before the Civil Rights Movement and almost never were the men responsible
sought out, put on trial, and found guilty. However, the second half of the twentieth century
changed nearly everything.

Rape culture during ...

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