Rape culture has now reached the monkey bars, according to feminist research, and reports of misogony on the playground are largely to blame. Students and teachers alike have expressed confusion about how to address the problem.
“I see more acts of objectification and slut shaming with the kindergarteners than I do with the fifth graders,” said Sarah Edwards, an elementary school teacher. “These boys may as well be chugging PBRs while drooling over a sorority pillow fight. Frankly, it’s terrifying.”
Edwards, who has been a PE teacher for two years, became aware of the influence of rape culture after completing a Gender Studies course last summer. She says that she regularly sees acts of gender violence, including love notes being passed in the absence of mutually established boundaries and misogynistic terms like “cooties.”
“I try to believe that these boys will one day respect their female classmates, but their incendiary behavior makes that hard to believe,” said Edwards. “A girl can’t even complete a macaroni picture without getting ghosted by some guy that was supposed to help.”
While the definition is ever-changing, rape culture is defined by feminists as the collective acceptance and promotion of misogony and sexual assault, usually in the context of university campuses. While far from scientific, the degree of rape culture is often quantified by multiplying a school’s annual tuition by the number of on-campus fraternities. Instances of rape culture, according to an article on Everyday Feminism, include denial of rape culture and the impact of “toxic hookup culture” on asexual people.
“Rape culture is a type of social conditioning that’s spreading like a virus,” said one protestor at a recent slut walk. “Sometimes it’s something as obvious as sexual assault, but other times it’s just a girl getting her feelings ripped apart.”
Critics have lambasted the concept of rape culture, arguing that the movement has created unwarranted hysteria by overemphasizing cultural factors that have no credible link to sexual violence. America’s largest anti-sexual assault organization, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, released a statement critical of the movement, saying “rape is caused not by cultural factors but by the conscious decisions, of a small percentage of the community, to commit a violent crime.”
Feminists such as Edwards, however, believe that criticism of the movement only serves to embolden male pupils. She has suggested using puppets to teach children about the dangers of date rape and catcalling.
“My female students are carrying a lot of trauma, and it’s my job to let them know that,” Edwards told a reporter. “Everyone, including children, are complicit in rape culture, and the sooner they learn that the better.”