THE BLOG

Will Baring Our Breasts End the Culture of Rape?

04/02/2014 05:38 pm ET | Updated Jun 02, 2014
Karen Moskowitz via Getty Images

According to a recent survey, 65 percent of Brazilians either partially or wholly believe that "if dressed provocatively, women deserve to be attacked and raped." The findings also revealed that 58.5 percent think, "if women knew how to behave, there would be less rape."

In response to these shocking stats, Brazilian women have launched a campaign posting semi-nude images of themselves, yet covering their nipples with a sign that reads #NãoMereçoSerEstuprada, which translates to #IDontDeserveToBeRaped. The message is clear. No matter what I am wearing, or not wearing, I don't deserve to be violated.

The mentality of blaming the victim holds women entirely responsible for being raped, while simultaneously excusing men for their actions. That is as absurd as suggesting it was my fault I got mugged because I had money in my wallet that a robber wanted. Can you imagine a police officer telling someone if they didn't want to get their car stolen, it shouldn't have been parked where it could be seen and desired?

I appreciate this campaign as it directly challenges the offensive notion that "she asked for it." An appalling number of people are living with the belief system that the clothes a woman chooses to wear can be linked to whether a man rapes her or not. This logic confuses me. Women in Burka's get raped. Were they asking for it by exposing too much eyelid? Indigenous tribal cultures, where women are bare chested, aren't plagued with rape as a societal issue. Men don't rape because of an alluring mini skirt. Men rape for power.

We live in a culture of dominance, and most boys are raised and conditioned to think about how to dominate others. The alpha male complex permeates past the physical realm, and deep into the psyche. Men dominate each other. Bosses often dominate employees. Politicians too frequently attempt domination over society. War is how we often solve problems in the geopolitical atmosphere. This culture of dominance has saturated nearly all facets of life.

The paradigm of domination is embedded into the archetype of the successful man. This mentality is ingrained in the definition of manliness and what is means to be powerful. It is not hard to make the leap to see how this indoctrination bleeds into a man's sexuality.

The campaign these Brazilians launched is a response to the assumption that women are at fault for being the victim of sexual assault. I applaud their pushing the envelope on this issue. The reality is I could be naked and passed out in front of 20 guys who would never take advantage of my vulnerability. I could also be minding my own business, wearing a potato sack, and attacked by a man in broad daylight.

Dressing like a nun and avoiding dark alleys does not dissolve the culture of rape. The only way women won't be raped by men is when men stop raping women. Shaming women will never end this pandemic. According to the National Violence Against Women Survey, 1 in 6 U.S. women has experienced an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. Whether or not we're aware of it, we all know someone who has been raped. Statistically that means we also know a rapist. Let's follow the Brazilian's initiative and expand this conversation. It is time we heal the stunted masculinity that drives men to commit heinous acts against women. Rape doesn't stop with women, it stops with men.

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