Rape Culture

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Eiley Kuhlmey


This three-piece, oil paint on canvas series is titled “Rape Culture” and is inspired by the societal normalization of sexual assault and harassment directed at women. While the matter of rape culture is far from a new issue, for the first time in American history, the tolerance of the sexual violation of women has faced serious scrutiny, leading to the recent era of the Me Too and Time’s Up movements. Witnessing this critical historical shift towards acknowledging and reframing a culture that traditionally victimized rapists and sexual abusers and simultaneously blamed women has inspired this work. This series analyzes the past, present, and future of American rape culture. The first piece depicts a dumpster with the words “Boys will be boys” written across it and relates to the case in which Brock Turner brutally raped a woman behind a dumpster. Turner was sentenced to only six months in jail (though he only served three months) because the judge maintained that he did not want to see Turner’s life ruined as a result of his actions, while entirely dismissing the consequences felt by the victim. Tragically, cases similar to this one are all too common in American society, where the abuser is prioritized over justice for the victim. The second painting is a martini glass with the words “She asked for it” written upon it, which speaks to the commonplace occurrence of date rape drugs being added to drinks and victim blaming associated with rape and sexual assault -- both of which are still persistent threats today. In the third piece, women’s undergarments are painted with the phrase “This is not consent”. This piece recognizes that women are not deserving of sexual aggression, regardless of what they are wearing, and pays homage to the current women’s movements (with particular ties to the This is Not Consent movement in Ireland). This painting emphasizes a future in which consent is respected and in which women subjected to sexual violation are given the justice they deserve.

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