Call it what it really is: rape

25 08 2009

One way that rape culture functions and continues to thrive is through invisibility. The mainstream media poorly covers sexual violence (if they cover it at all). Often times sexual assault and rape get erased from the picture – instead of using the words sexual assault or rape, mainstream news sources will just use sex. So instead of saying that Person X raped Person Y, headlines or articles will say things along the lines of Person X had sex with Person Y. Case in point:

From NBC: A police officer in Connecticut is being charged with first degree sexual assault and criminal impersonation after police say he posed as his twin brother to have sex with a woman.

Okay, so at least they explicitly state that the officer is charged with first degree sexual assault. But then they go on to say “he posed as his twin brother to have sex with a woman”. Wrong, he did not have sex with a woman, he raped a woman. There was no consent. She did not have consented to having sex with him because he was impersonating his twin brother and fooling her so that he could rape her.

Here’s another one describing the same violation from The Telegraph UK:

Jared Rohrig, 25, pretended to be his brother Joe to trick the woman into bed.

Again, the words sexual assault or rape are entirely omitted from the story. The language used here is extremely trivializing and makes it seem more like some kind of soap opera story or some ridiculous drama you’d see on television.

By continuing to unidentify and unexamine rape, we are enabling it to persist without taking notice of its heinous criminal nature.  Failing to name rape as rape simply bolsters rape culture and belittles the severity of the crime.  We need to call it what it is: rape.

H/t Womanist Musings.


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