© Copyright First Draft

Rape ‘Culture’ in Indian society and Indian Pop culture

Have we arrived at a phase where looking at unfortunate events like Rape news and stories looks normative? Is every rape case in India just another everyday coverage of an incident? Or have we just accepted the new normal? The culture which blames the victim for their sexual assault, makes freedom and independence for the victim more contracted. The history and present become just the periods, where a woman's body becomes a subject.

Ananya Jain

Rape Culture is a societal culture in which sexual violence becomes a norm that blames the victim for their own assaults. It protects the one who has committed the heinous crime and promotes impunity and advocates unreasonable statements for why these women were assaulted.

Every time women attempt to achieve something, they often have to sacrifice their safety and progress. Rape culture has its roots going deep to the long-standing patriarchal structure which was made to benefit men.

The term "rape culture" was originated in the 1970s in ‘Rape: The First Sourcebook for Women’, published by the New York Radical Feminists. At the very beginning of the book, there is a manifesto by The New York Radicals Feminists that states, “Man has invented standards of superiority (male) and inferiority (female). Unsupported by reality as this idea is, man is always uneasy and threatened by the possibility that a woman will one day claim her full right to human existence, so he has found ways to enslave her.” (Rape: The first sourcebook for women, 1970). Possibly the concept of marriage and other social limitations where women are supposed to take care of the household duties is added motivation to the assaults against them.

"We have a patriarchal society in India, which gives more importance to men. Women are usually considered second-class citizens," Dr. Shruti Kapoor, a feminist activist and founder of the Sayfty Trust organization told Deutsche Welle (DW). The concept of violence against women is inherited very twistedly into the young minds of children in India. In a lot of cases, rapes are committed by someone known to the victim and at times, women cannot even complain about non-consensual sex. Non-consensual sex by the husband is seen as his right after marriage. ‘The Quint’ did a survey recently, where they talked to people about rape blame. Most of the answers were wrapping women in their claims, they are even today being controlled in the name of their own honour or safety. Why was she improperly dressed? Why was she in the wrong place at the wrong time? Why does she make boys her friends? Questions like these, try to control the environment in which women try to unfold their new paths every day. Health officials or nurses too faced several assaults and harassment while being on duty during Covid-19.

The gender stereotypes in popular culture certainly play a major role in provoking rape culture. Masculinity is generally portrayed through displaying independence, dominance, and control over feelings and emotions. Men are depicted as more violent and aggressive, acting over their emotions. Indian cinema have this connotation of men being braver and more heroic than the women. And the woman as an actress or performer displays as meek, sensitive, loving, and ultra-family orientated. Stereotypical femininity usually depicts females as sexy characters that are young and thin. Women tend to be portrayed as housewives, sidekicks, martyrs, and sufferers in movies and T.V programs, emphasizing their stereotypes via a means of demonstrating passive and established roles.

One of the largest works of females being depicted as sexual objects is through advertisements, whether it is on television or print, the chosen audience is men, the ‘masculine’ ones in society. Not only in India but media and pop culture provoke rape due to stereotypes among men and women in other countries as well. The glorification of sexual violence is also a major cause of India becoming a major country of Rape Culture.

Edited by Aviva Baig

Second edit: Paridhi Mittal