August 06, 2015

Reducing Rape Culture Pt. 2: Personal Responsibility and Holding Others Accountable

"Close-up of The Thinker" by Brian Hillegas
Many in our society won't take responsibility for their own actions and we sometimes excuse each other's bad behavior. This promiscuity promotes rape culture as "boys will be boys," "girls just want to have fun," willful ignorance, and excuse for excuse. Lack of personal responsibility and excuses is a hallmark of sexual predators according to Dr. Leigh Baker. So how can we combat this?

Personal Responsibility


Reducing rape culture begins with the individual. We can't control others, but we can control ourselves. It begins at the level of thought. Consider, what do we feed our minds? Continual thought patterns leads to speech and action. I can make good choices; you can make good choices. When we make mistakes, we can hold ourselves accountable for our actions. No one else has to do that for us; we can do it for ourselves!

Teaching Responsibility


All of us can teach others responsibility who fall under our stewardship. First, we model responsible behavior. Then we teach responsibility in our homes, schools, churches, and other organizations. A large part of teaching responsibility is holding others accountable for their actions: praise for good things and natural consequences, or discipline, for bad things.

Holding Each Other Accountable


Many times we have excuses for sexual offenders that we believe: "It was so long ago" or "such a nice person wouldn't do such a thing." Sometimes offenders don't even have to defend themselves because their charmed followers do it for them. We enable sexual offenders when we excuse their behaviors in any way; or excuse any bad behavior, as simple as telling a crude joke at the workplace or locker room.

Sexual offenders rarely repent when they aren't held accountable by society, religions, and the government. They will try to get away with as much as they can for as long as they can. Many offenders are only afraid of jail and a tarnished reputation. For this reason, we need to report sexual offenses to the police and other government authorities. Reporting to clergy or an employer is not enough. Offenders simply move onto other unsuspecting organizations. Don't pass the buck!

Guardians


As parents, we have the power to shape our sons and daughters into responsible citizens. This begins with the mother and father showing respect to one another. Children will then model respect and empathy for others. Next, hold our children accountable for their actions and they will learn to self-govern over time. Since no one is an expert at parenting your child but you, find an approach that works for you and your child.

Sometimes, parents struggle to teach their children responsible sexual behavior, but you are the best source for that information! Encourage open communication with your child, so if they come across a problem, they feel comfortable coming to you. RAINN has more information here about communicating with your child.

Hold anyone responsible who hurts your child! Many parents don't want to rock the boat if it is a likable relative, coach, teacher, neighbor, or family friend. Your responsibility is your child's well-being, not maintaining a facade or a relationship with a "nice" sexual offender. Sexually abused children are at risk for depression, PTSD, anxiety, sexual dysfunction, infertility, STDs, death, suicide, and more. Your child is your treasure.

Religious Organizations


Churches should discipline their members and report to government authorities. Pastors, bishops, and religious leaders should take a victim seriously who reports to them. On occasion, victims may blame the wrong person or lie, but only the Spirit will witness the truth.

Some religious leaders shut off their brains when a likable member turns out to be a rapist, pedophile, or other sexual predator. Religious leaders need to take off their rose-colored glasses and rely on facts and spiritual intuition. In her book, Anna C. Salter lamented how religious people blind themselves that everyone has good in them. Some people are truly evil and brilliant practiced liars! Or their sin far outweighs the good.

Society and Media


Some in society and media celebrate sexual promiscuity and how many sexual partners someone has had. It becomes a game of sexual conquests--male and female. The foul language and crude jokes present in society and media fuels rape culture. Some media objectifies men's, women's, and adolescents' bodies, leading to disrespect for the opposite gender and children. Don't participate in such media! Gently offer correction when you see someone promoting rape culture.

Society and media should hold sexual offenders accountable for their actions--not run sensationalized stories on them or publish excuses for their behavior. Only report the facts and respect the privacy of the victims and the offender's families. It is traumatizing enough without total strangers judging them.

Government


The government plays a central role in holding criminals accountable. Politicians can take actions to catch and punish sexual predators. Reduce or eliminate government spending on anything non-essential. The savings can go toward catching sexual predators, funding rape kits, education, counseling for offender and victim, and prison time. Reduce salaries and retirements to the lower middle class level for elected and appointed officials. After all, the government is meant to serve, not enrich politicians! It's inexcusable for rape kits to be backlogged when a politician makes six figures. Hold your own accountable and only hire responsible and honest employees. And the list goes on...

In democratic countries we have more control over our government. How can we influence our government? First, vote in responsible representatives. Second, offer ideas, support, or correction to your elected leaders in a respectful manner. We can also pray for our government officials: they can use all the help they can get.

The Work Place


After I married, I worked in a hostile work environment. Employees imitated masturbation and other sex acts in front of rest home and mentally ill patients (some sex offenders) and other employees. They used sexually violent language and gestures: f***, b****, and the middle finger. I witnessed this several times a week. But it was all in a joking manner, so it didn't count according to the manager. No one approached me or touched me, but I felt violated and belittled. Continual crude language, jokes, gestures are sexual harassment whether directed at you or not. The manager condoned the sexual harassment under the guise of free speech. It isn't free speech when it violates someone else's rights. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lists facts here on sexual harassment.

My employer promoted rape culture by her actions and inaction, whether intentional or not. We should have had mandatory education on this issue and employees reprimanded or fired for their behavior. Any criminal behavior should be reported to the police.

No one has to tolerate this and you can take action to prevent this. Address anyone committing sexual harassment. If it continues, report it to management. If your employer ignores the complaint or retaliates, report it to the EEOC or similar government agency. The EEOC will assist you to rectify the situation.

More than I Can Say


There are many ways to promote responsibility and reduce rape culture that I can't list here. With each step forward, we may prevent more sexual abuse and rape. It is worth the effort to save anyone from the horror of rape and to assist offenders in rehabilitation.

What are your thoughts on this issue?