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#RapeCultureIsWhen you censor the victims in favor of the rapist

Deborah Cruz-Beck is a SheKnows parenting expert and blogger at The TRUTH About Motherhood, which she calls a place of "humor, support, honesty and integrity." Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Tanvi Kumar, a senior year Fond du Lac High School journalist, wrote an article about rape culture that has snowballed into a movement. Let's keep it going.

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Photo credit: Simone Becchetti/E+/Getty Images

Tanvi Kumar, a senior year Fond du Lac High School journalist, wrote an article about what she thought was her high school’s laissez-faire attitude toward rape that has caused a big reaction at her high school, even drawing criticism from the principal and superintendent. The article, The Rape Joke, came to fruition after Kumar heard jokes being made about rape at her school and stumbled across a student-run Twitter account that poked fun at rape. Kumar did her legwork; she talked to victims of sexual assault, visited abuse treatment centers and went over the article with her advisor before even publishing, but she never expected what would happen next.

That article has snowballed into a movement. The article has been read aloud in her school and discussed in classrooms and a teacher even shared her own personal story of sexual assault with Kumar. The article has opened up the dialogue about rape, and could be just the catalyst we need to change rape culture. The response has been overwhelming in both directions.

District administrators reacted to Kumar's article by enacting a censorship policy. The censorship has outraged students and faculty, and caused a controversy over First Amendment rights that has caused a national uproar.

This all comes at a time in history when rape has become tolerable. We like to think that we don’t have the stomach for it, but when it comes down to it, many people find it more repulsive to discuss rape in polite society than rape itself. We live in a rape culture where our children are assaulted by music lyrics in which we talk openly about raping underage girls set to a catchy beat. This is acceptable, but an article exposing the reality of rape is in bad taste.

Rape and violence against women has become so much the norm that no one even flinches anymore when it shows up in films, magazine layouts, fashion spreads, books or even jokes. This teaches our society, boys and girls, that women are weak and vulnerable. It not-so-subtly sends the message that women are put on this earth to be used at the will and pleasure of men, to be discarded like trash, and their cries for help are unheard because women don’t matter. There is no rape culture hysteria because this is serious; no one is overreacting. We need to react more strongly.

Last year when the Steubenville rape case happened, the public was more enraged that the rapists were having their lives ruined by being labeled as rapists than by the fact that a young girl had been exploited and sexually violated by several young men while they laughed and filmed the entire thing, because apparently it’s funny to crush a young girl’s soul and steal her virtue. As a woman, I can’t even wrap my brain around this mentality, and it wasn’t just the men who were more upset about the boys than the victim.

I don’t think anyone openly thinks rape is anything other than a violent act against the victim, except for maybe the rapist. The problem is not that we think rape itself is acceptable, but that we allow it to no longer shock and outrage us. We are slowly learning to accept it as part of life. Bad things happen to people. But we must stand up for what is right. We need to teach our sons to respect women, women’s bodies and themselves as men. Stop objectifying women. We are more than just sources of pleasure and vessels of birth.

Rape is never okay under any circumstances and we have to stop being so dismissive of the victims and tolerant of the rapists. If a person says no or is unable to coherently consent, it is rape. A person who has been raped has been the victim of a violent crime. It is never the victim’s fault no matter what they are wearing, doing, drinking or saying. I don’t care if a co-ed is half naked, drunk and passed out on your bed. If you have sex with her in that condition, you just committed rape. You are a rapist. Rape is rape. There is no rape and rape-rape. It is all rape.

What do you think when you see this hashtag #RapeCultureIsWhen?

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