Calling all Florida State University students, staff (including adjunct teachers), and faculty: Working Method Contemporary is hosting a show titled Rape Culture. This is a juried all-media show with an up-front political agenda aimed at increasing awareness of and dialogue about the rape epidemic on American campuses and a culture that subtly encourages rape. The show is media-fluid and encourages performance, text, video and social practice work alongside more traditional 2D and 3D art. This show will include a printed catalog and awards.
Rape culture is where people are bombarded with images, language, laws, and other everyday phenomena that not only validate, but also perpetuate, rape. Rape culture includes jokes, TV, music, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words and imagery, that make violence against women and sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe that rape is inevitable. Rather than realizing the culture of rape is a problem that needs to be changed, people in a rape culture believe that the constancy of rape is “just the way things are.”
The media perpetuates rape by excusing it, validating myths about rape, and/or sexualizing rape. One of the frequent continuations of this is through ideas such as The Stanger Rape myth. The Stranger Rape Myth is the idea that most rape is random and that rapists don’t know their victims. The image that follows is of a crazy rapist waiting in the bushes or lurking in dark alleys. The truth is, however, that statistically most rape victims and survivors are raped by people they know. It is frequently reinforced through Lifetime movies like She Fought Alone, or most episodes of Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit. This kind of media furthers rape, because it continues the shame and silence that surrounds the majority of survivors who were raped by friends or family; and it allows perpetrators to avoid dealing with their problems, since they do not match the profile of rapists “As Seen On TV.”
Art and culture have the power to make a real difference. Just as the media reinforces rape culture, art can showcase the truth about the problem. By creating an exhibition documenting rape culture awareness of rape culture is increased, a dialogue about the rape epidemic on American campuses begins and the culture that subtly encourages rape is brought to light. Care will be taken in the jury process to be sure that work displayed focuses on the agency and humanity of the victim, and cannot be mistaken as imagery glorifying rape. By taking steps to combat the media adding to the problem others can be inspired by media that fights against the culture of rape.