Edward Lovo / Silhouette Staff
Rape is a social problem perpetuated by the culture of rape. Rape culture is an unfamiliar concept to many, and because of its unfamiliarity, many will deny its existence. Really. However, the concept becomes easy to digest when attention is drawn elsewhere.
Over the past few months, CNN has provided a lot of coverage on India. CNN reported on the case of a New Delhi gang rape occurring shortly before the new year.
The protests that the case initiated spread in pockets of India and Nepal. There’s been aggression on the peaceful demonstrators committed by the police force, rapes committed by the police and more cases of gang rapes (including the even more recent case of a Swiss tourist), met with commitments from India to reform legislation.
This is partly because of pressure from protestors and partly because of the international spotlight. CNN even included firsthand accounts by Anjana Menon and Shreyasi Singh detailing the culture of rape in India.
However, CNN and other media sources have fixated on rape culture in India to the point of losing sight of rape culture in North America.
To make myself clear, rape culture is different in India than it is in North America, but this doesn’t change the problem that is rape culture here.
For CNN and other media, the theme of rape undergoes a transformation from India to North America, or from East to West.
The network is quick to highlight the backwardness of other cultures, but when addressing rape cases of its own society, it participates in the practices that it condemns in those cultures.
CNN eagerly reports that women are raped by police in India, but doesn’t lift a finger to type the same stories in North America. CNN eagerly reports the rape culture in India, publishing firsthand accounts, but what about the many women that have spoken out against rape culture in North America? CNN is vindictive of rapists in India, but somehow found the heart to sympathize with the rapists in the recent Steubenville case.
The disparity of coverage between India and North America by CNN gives birth to the illusion that rape is not a social problem in North America, but that it is in India. CNN isn’t the only culprit; ABC, NBC and USA Today have also contributed to this illusion. There is rape culture in North America. Rape is a problem here, and it must be treated as such.
Ironically, CNN has been participating in rape culture from the very beginning of its coverage on India. Due to the differences in rape coverage for CNN in the East and West, recipients of media are the recipients of distorted representations.
Hidden in between the lines is the message, “India is backward, not us.”
This message is part and parcel of rape culture, contributes to it, perpetuates it and glosses over it.
We’re backwards. After all, SlutWalk didn’t start in Toronto for nothing.