I’ve blogged about this before, but Mikki Halpin has a great piece on Alternet about how the word “rape” is thrown around so much that it trivializes and belittles its severity. Rape is used to describe any bad experience, from taking a hard test to performing poorly in an audition. When 1 in 6 women is the victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime and in America, a woman is sexually assaulted every 2 minutes, rape is not a term to be taken lightly nor is it something to just throw around and laugh about. As Halpin writes:
“The more we dilute this word, the more we play down the power of sexual violence,” says Angela Rose, founder and executive director of Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment, a group devoted to education and action surrounding rape. “It actually adds to the silence surrounding this issue because it diverts attention.”
…”People use the word ‘rape’ to hype an experience, such as Jon Stewart’s political critique of Jim Cramer’s financial predictions,” says Anderson. “The hype may grab attention, but it belittles rape.” This demoralizes victims, whose traumatic experience is now ranked along with a poor performance review or a hefty cell phone bill.
Rose agrees, saying, “The more we dilute this word, the more it will alienate and isolate the victims of sex crimes, who are often already additionally traumatized by sexualized reporting of rape in the media and a blame-the-victim attitude on the part of some members of law enforcement.”
Exactly. Throwing around the word rape is certainly attention grabbing and will produce a response from people, but it can be very triggering for and insensitive to survivors. Hapin finishes with:
A joke is not just a joke.
And rape means rape. When someone says, “I was raped,” there should not be multiple competing interpretations to the statement.
Once more: “The unlawful compelling of a woman through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.”
This is not a word that should be diluted, diverted or disambiguated. It is a specific word to describe a specific, horrific act. Let’s keep it that way, while working to reduce the need to use it at all.
Yes, let’s use rape when we are talking about rape, not a difficult exam, a bad audition, a bad business deal, etc. Rape is a serious matter and it needs to be treated as such. Continuing along this thread, rape cases need to be treated seriously and rape kits need to be tested. Rape kits, or evidence collection kits, are not fun. They are a six hour long intrusive, uncomfortable full body exam. No one gets a rape kit done just for giggles. Yet,
Stunningly often, the rape kit isn’t tested at all because it’s not deemed a priority. If it is tested, this happens at such a lackadaisical pace that it may be a year or more before there are results (if expedited, results are technically possible in a week).
So while we have breakthrough DNA technologies to find culprits and exculpate innocent suspects, we aren’t using them properly — and those who work in this field believe the reason is an underlying doubt about the seriousness of some rape cases. In short, this isn’t justice; it’s indifference.
It is indifference. And people need to get over the false idea that rape is just a women’s issue. It’s not. It’s something that affects the entire community.