The Silence Inherent in Rape Culture

I wrote this post in response to the ultraviolet campaign to “Remove Judge Aaron Persky from the bench” for the light sentence handed down to a jock at Stanford convicted of rape, and whose father felt the measly sentence was unjustified because his son only misbehaved for 20 minutes. Note that the judge was also a Stanford graduate.


As a rape survivor, I can promise you that even after 30 years, you never forget, and you never fully heal. So many of us reading this were raped. So many have never told. So many are still ashamed. Some are judging me right now, saying to themselves, you/she shouldn’t tell these stories. You shouldn’t reveal these facts about yourself. You shouldn’t profess such things in public.

We perpetuate rape culture with wishes for such silence. We must not apologize for voices used to advocate for truth. Rape does not define me, but rape shaped me. My guess is that the men who raped me probably committed rape again and again because of our cultural tendency to be hush about taboo subjects.

I guarantee this didn’t start with my generation, nor with my mother’s or her mother’s generation. And given that epigenetics research shows via evident biological markers that ancestral trauma is inherited, you can bet rape culture has impacted virtually every family.

It is perpetuated every time we force a child to accept a hug. Bodily autonomy starts as soon as a baby can indicate with body language the preference of NO. We are conditioned to encourage children to follow our commands and to wear what makes them uncomfortable or what we choose for them. We are all deeply conditioned by an authoritarian paradigm that can be traced throughout our human ancestry.

While I could draw a long list of direct connection between our society’s paradigms of authoritarianism and rape and elaborate on the detailed lifelong impact of being raped, this is about using the Internet to send the message that rape is not acceptable and the punishment for rape should bear the same long-term impact as experienced by a raped person throughout her or his lifetime.

And, if the black and white dynamics of our judicial system cannot split hairs finely enough for every case, then at least in situations like this we have a vehicle for vigilante justice via social media. In my case, I have had no contact with my perpetrators in decades, but if I could, I might remind them of their pathological underpinnings.

I was ‘Roofied’ and raped at a high school graduation party and then raped twice more by acquaintances between ages 18 and 23. I felt I wouldn’t be believed, so I told no one. I didn’t understand what had happened to me. I had never heard of date rape drugs. I became lonely, depressed, and disconnected from myself. My body was not my own anymore, but one of a girl whose head buzzed incessantly with negative self talk. I blamed myself and told no one. Date rape was not even a term used widely at the time. The culture of society taught me to be ashamed of myself. These men planted their darkest selves to haunt my soul, without conscience, and it took decades for me to locate the light trapped within.

It is no different for any other person who experiences being raped. There are no degrees to rate whether one rape is worse than another. It IS identity theft. It IS soul-crushing, and those who learn to put it into perspective are lights for those who still can’t watch portrayals of sexual violence on TV without crying.

Is it really so facetious to suspect that the very judge handing down the light sentence probably perpetrated rape in his own day, there at Stanford? The lack of conscience exhibited by such men is evidence of how entrenched rape culture is in the sectors of privilege in our society.

Perhaps this big machine of society is turning and churning itself as a self-regulating dynamic that will transform our culture like the Paleolithic societies repeatedly referenced by Peter Gray did when shaming those who strayed from tribal ethics. The organic nature of social media affords some measure of justice in this particular case.


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