Friday, 20 August 2010

Feminist Friday v.IV: Power of Words

Words are some of the most powerful weapons we have, but their misappropriation can be just as damaging. One of things that pisses me off the most is the misappropriation and misuse of the word "rape."

I'm pretty sure I don't need to go into a feminist analysis of rape and start quoting MacKinnon or Dworkin for us all to agree that rape is a horrible crime. We don't need to discuss radical vs liberal views on why it happens; it happens and it shouldn't, ever.

What pisses me off is when people take "rape" a word used to describe one of the most hateful and damaging crimes and use it to describe something completely inappropriate.

"Hey man, did you see the game last night? The Bengals totally got raped."

"Ugh, I hate Verizon my stupid phone doesn't work, they totally raped me."

Really? The entire Cincinnati football team was forced against their will to have sex? Verizon sold you a crappy phone and then you were taken into the back for non-consensual sex? Oh that didn't happen? You mean the Bengals just lost by a large margin and you over-payed for a piece of crap phone? You didn't actually mean rape at all? I didn't think so.

When you take a word which describes a despicable act and use it so casually to describe mundane and normal things, you strip the word of it's power. When you use that word so nonchalantly it normalizes the event it is meant to describe. When you use "rape" without even thinking about it you marginalize the millions of men and women who have been raped.

I know most people don't think before they speak; they don't mean to normalize and minimize the experiences of those who have been raped, but they are. When you take something that should never happen and use it to describe normal events you are trivializing what rape is.

So what's the point of my rant? Think before you speak. Choose your words carefully and make sure they mean what you are really trying to convey.



WORDS










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3 comments:

Lane said...

I couldn't agree more with this post...I often cringe when I hear 'rape' used that way, knowing that statistically a survivor of actual rape is within earshot.

myshorterstories said...

Not a fan of the word being used that way at all. My least favorite is a mid-90s one: "that totally raped my buzz."

Monique said...

Good job "babysitting" your friends blog! Very nice...