Rape Crisis Movement

The goal of the rape crisis movement was to bring attention to the issue of rape and the freedoms of women. The movement stemmed from the Women’s Rights Movement, which looked to gain equal rights and freedoms for women. The movement also correlates with slavery and the Civil Rights Movement. During slavery, women were raped and assaulted by white men. This continued during the Civil Rights Movement as African American women experienced sexual abuse and violence at the hands of white men in an attempt to terrorize them and silence their efforts to gain freedom. The rape crisis movement was also done to reverse the views women by men as property and sexual objects that they can control and overpower without consent. The same also goes for the mentality on African American women as having no rights and unable to fight back because rape of African Americans was legal. These crimes often went unnoticed due to this mentality. One of the first cases of women fighting back against rape legally were African-American women who were were gang-raped by a white mob during the Memphis Riot of May 1866. (http://independencehouse.org/black-history-month-and-the-rape-crisis-movement/ )This moment is one of many that sparked the rape crisis movement and also intertwined the struggles of both Black American and white women during this time. The movement was not started by one person alone. It developed from the struggles faced by women to gain freedom politically, socially, economically, and physically.

The height of the rape crisis movement occurred during the 1970’s. During this time, more attention and change was brought to the movement. The rape crisis movements’ main approach of protest was educating people on the cause. This was done through speak-outs, informational fliers, support groups for survivors, and speaking with people such as doctors, nurses, young adults, and many others to try and change the mentality of rape. The movement also publicized legal cases of rape and helped bring justice to the women involved. One of these cases was the rape of Joan Little in August 1974. Joan Little was an African American prisoner who was raped by a white jail guard whom she killed in self defense. She escaped from prison and was charged with murder. Activist, Angela Davis led the public in supporting Joan Little and she was cleared on the charges of murder. http://www.resourcesharingproject.org/brief-history-anti-rape-movement This case was a victory for the movement as well as African American women because it showed that their efforts to bring justice and awareness through the legal system were successful. From victories like the Joan Little case and many others, programs to help victims of rape and laws to put away rapists were created in support of victims. Support programs include speak-outs on rape, rape crisis centers, shelters for battered women, government funding for health services following rape such as abortion, education programs about rape, and countless others. Through the revision of laws, more rape victims have come forward and are able to be brought justice.

The effects of the rape crisis movement are still present today. This shows that the movement was successful in its goal to bring awareness and change to the issue of rape. The movement is still very much present today and protests of different forms have risen such as the SlutWalk and the Women’s March that occurred after Donald Trump’s inauguration. The rape movement was not the primary argument of the Women’s March but it was one of many. The movement is also present in protests concerning rapes on college campuses and the encouragement of women, police, and school authorities to come forward and bring justice to the victims. There is also awareness about the freedoms of women to dress and act how they feel and not being told to behave differently to avoid rape. It looks to correct the misconception that its okay from men to rape women because of how they choose to express themselves. Overall, the movement was effective in its goals although there is still a lot changes needed to be made for women, the movement definitely encourages change, educates the public, and supports victims of rape.

The rape crisis movement is meaningful to me, being that I am a female and African American. Its amazing to know that women can support each other in times of crisis and work together to educate others and bring positive changes to the world. I liked discovering the connection between the Civil Rights Movement and the Rape Crisis Movement because it shows how events in history are intertwined and how one cause can help or lead to another. It’s shocking to think that rape was once allowed and an issue that women were not allowed to fight against legally. I’m glad that the women before me were able to make these changes through support programs, awareness, and legal revisions. I couldn’t imagine living in a world where women are forced to hide their struggles and don’t get justice. If the movement did not exist, there would be no justice and support for women against rapists. The mentality that women are sexual objects and property would still exist. This way of thinking might have hindered the Women’s Rights Movement and the ability to see women as being equal to men. This relates to the intertwining of events and the effects they have on each other. Without the power of one movement or event another movement may not progress the way its intended to.

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