Advanced Essay #4: How Media Perpetuates Sexual Violence

My goal for this essay was to show how media and pop culture perpetuate sexual violence. I wanted to share my story as well as give other examples. The reason my paper is so long because I wanted to really share what goes through a girl's head when these kind of things happen. I feel like this was one of my best essay's to date. I feel like I really got to express my greater idea as well. My thorough explaining created wonderful lengthy paragraphs causing my essay to be a bit over the word limit.

The sky was bright and full of puffy white clouds. The air had a slight smell of rain and it was really humid. This was a pretty warm day for mid-April. I was wearing my favorite blue dress. The waist had blue flowers and I had put on a jean jacket over it so my outfit would be more “school appropriate.” After school, I was walking down the steps into the train station and I heard someone say,

“How old are you?”

There were a bunch of people at the train station, I did not think they were talking to me. Hundreds of conversations were buzzing around on the steps at 15th street. So, I proceed to walk underground towards the Comcast Center. I can feel someone follow me but I’m not sure; so I keep walking and move to the left.

“Ohh you cut me off” A male voice says jokingly.

“Oh, sorry” I muttered trying to sound as nonchalant as possible.

At this point I was focusing on getting near people so I’d feel more comfortable. There was minimal light in this hallway and we were the only people walking. My heart was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, but my mind knew better. My pace quickened a bit as I got further into the underground

“That dress is short!” he chuckles.

At that moment I’m thinking to myself  ‘Are you serious man?’ I was trying to get rid of the thought that this man was following me a block and a half underground. ‘Maybe he’s just going the same way as me!’ was the thought I tried to keep in my head. All I could do is be annoyed that he felt the need to tell me about my outfit and make me feel uncomfortable as he followed me underground.

“How old are you?”

He was now next to my left shoulder tailing about two feet behind me.

“I’m 15!”

I said in a hurry. I was so shocked that I even said the wrong age. I had been 16 for around four months I was just so blank at that moment.

“Oh shit! Sorry, my bad thought you were older.”

He muttered as he walked back in the opposite direction towards the exit.

After, I was astonished. This man really just followed me through the train station. I mean it’s my body I’m allowed to wear whatever I want. No one deserves to be followed because someone is interested in them because of how much skin they show.

There are so many different variables that resulted in me wearing this outfit so I purposely would not get called out or harassed. I tugged at my dress constantly, wore a jean jacket to cover my arms; things that I wasn’t insecure about became things I was adamant about hiding. I know that what I wear does not give anyone the right to harass me. This is the kind of violence I am faced with most often.

The way that this man acted showed me that to him, girls who dress nice can either be one of two things; fashionable or asking for it and fashionable. Nothing about me said that I wanted him to follow me in a dimly lit hallway. I was minding my business yet, I was still street harassed.

Exploring more into why these things happen, I looked into music. Specifically, hip hop music. The lyrics say one thing, but the actions of the artist are another. Young rapper Xxxtentacion is currently in jail for assaulting his pregnant ex-girlfriend. He has a large fan base that often use the hashtag ‘FreeX’ because they believe that he is innocent. Kodak Black is another rapper that was previously in jail for being accused of raping a fan back in February 2016. In the article ‘Xxxtentacion, Kodak Black & Rap’s Ugly Embrace of Sexual Assault’ the author highlights the fans acceptance of these harsh crimes saying that, “#FreeKodak and #FreeX may have started as rallying cries for pre existing fans trying to maintaining their innocence, but in reality, they’ve acted as advertisements to bring in new listeners. Not only are these alleged crimes not slowing down the careers of either artist, they’re boosting their profiles.” Not only does this normalize that kind of behavior, it also perpetuates the fact that the victim may be lying. Whether these accusations are true or not, victim blaming will still happen and fans will still buy their music regardless and this violence will still happen.

This dismissive behavior of sexual assault and harassment becomes a never ending cycle. The article also highlights the fact that, “Of course, that didn’t stop #FreeKodak from taking over the internet, prioritizing a man’s squandered talents over a woman’s accusation that many still aren’t taking seriously. ...which helped him earn the first top 10 hit of his career.” In result of this, music may play a role, but the artist can also have influence. They live without shame and the women never get justice.

Women are constantly having to face the music, literally. So many songs degrade us and non chalantly talk about sexual violence and harassment as a hook for their song. For example, in Rick Ross’s song ‘U.O.E.N.O’ he raps, “Put molly all in her champagne/She ain’t even know it/ I took her home and I enjoyed that/She ain’t even know it” He is literally talking about drugging a woman and raping her in a song. The only thing the news has said about this is that this lyric is “controversial.” Not only is it controversial, but it is him making money off of talking about sexual violence and having no consequences. The common mindset is, ‘As long as he didn’t actually do it, it's fine.’ What people are failing to realize that normalizing this behavior makes it a “normal” thing for most women.
In conclusion, sexual harassment has to stop. I should not have to dress for other people and whether or not they’ll approach me. Women and girls should not have to live in fear because men feel entitled. To quote the article, ‘What does “non-violence” really mean?’ “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.” If this continues it’ll create an even larger distrust between women and men and everyone in between. We need to be intersectional. Protect the girl in the short dress and the long dress from sexual violence. It can happen to anyone.

CineMasai. "Xxxtentacion, Kodak Black & Rap’s Ugly Embrace of Sexual Assault." DJBOOTH. N.p., 15 Mar. 2017. Web. 23 Mar. 2017. <>.

Staff, Bossip. "Say What? Top 10 Most Controversial Rap Lyrics." Bossip. N.p., 09 Mar. 2017. Web. 23 Mar. 2017. <>.