i don’t think i’m being overly obsessive

by bezzle

After reading this and this, I couldn’t bring myself to whine about my own life.  Here’s an advance trigger warning that they both are discussions of rape.

The comments also contain a lot of interesting links (especially this one about rape culture), and I will admit to ‘taking a leisurely stroll’ through them, and almost thoroughly agreeing with what had been said.  I think Jeff’s point was ‘the skewed gender statistics of rape are not a manifestation of sexism’.

Just two etymological points I am going to bring up, that aren’t really related to the above.  I dislike the word ‘slut’.  I dislike it because of the absence of a male equivalent, as slut seems to used exclusively for females.  I think this demonstrates the need we have to judge a female by the amount/type of clothing she is wearing, but not so much for males.  I also despise the misuse of the word rape, and I think this post from Leanne (with its quote) sums it up quite well.

i don’t mean to sound righteous or condescending. and i’m sorry if i put a damper on the mood of this blog, but i really wanted to share this quote:

“Let’s talk about rape for a moment. Rape is not what George Lucas did to your childhood. Rape is not what happens when a sports team beats another sports team by a wide margin. Rape is not what happens when your electric bill is higher this month than it was last month. Rape is when a person violates another person in the most despicable, degrading way imaginable and among the myriad of terrible things humans can do to one another, rape is among the worst. I think the casual misappropriation of the concept of rape extending all the way to its widespread comical usage is disgusting even by Internet standards. Off my chest.” – Jeffrey Rowland

I’m going to go a little off topic here, but it’s something I feel quite opinionated about (see old rant about the mis/use of ‘gay’).  I understand that language is constantly changing, and meanings of words shift over time.  But when the meaning of rape is so clearly defined as it is, using the word to mean decisively defeated/owned/smashed is plain rude to people who have experienced rape.  I have not experienced rape myself, but I think such blatant misuse of such a powerful word is cheapening and insensitive of what victims go through.

Someone once said to me, isn’t using words like ‘cool’ also bad then, because we now also use it to mean something totally different to its original meaning?  My answer to that is, by doing using cool to mean awesome, nice, etc. we aren’t hurting, belittling or being offensive.  For example, getting horrible marks in your test and saying you got ‘raped’ is incorrect usage of a word which could offend people who understand the magnitude and suffering that comes with rape, and I’m sure that pain isn’t comparable to those bad marks.  I don’t think anyone would get offended if I said something was cool.

I think, once again, Amanda has said it quite eloquently here:

I more meant to imply that the use of rape in contexts like “God, I was RAPED by that test” to be inappropriate and a trivialisation of what rape is. Language is a powerful tool, and when we treat being figuratively “raped” as an everyday occurrence, it will shape how we regard real sexual assault.

People can get a bit uptight when others don’t agree with their word choice, and I honestly just want to stress that I can’t stop people using the word “rape” in that context, just as I can’t stop people using “faggot” (a still really heavily charged slur against gay people, regardless of how you mean to use it) and the thankfully now less prominent “gay”. However, when you choose to use those words, it’s foolish to blind yourself to the greater implications at hand. Language is a privilege, and how we wield it makes a greater difference than we can really understand. With an understanding of how those words can be really offensive and have been and continue to be used to oppress others, I would hope people make an effort to stop.

“Rape” in that context, “faggot” and “gay” in a derogatory sense are all terms I used to use, which is something I can’t escape from. However, I will say that from personal experience, removing a word from your vocabulary is honestly one of the easiest things to do. It may seem like a habit, but once you make an effort, it will disappear as easily as it came. And to be honest in my opinion, taking care with our language is one of the tiniest steps we can take in helping to create a more equal society for all and one we should all take.

Funny that, maybe it’s because people frequently use ‘rape’ to describe their school marks…

Edit: This and this horrify and disgust me.

One last note: Emily, if you ever read this, I came across this page which may be an interesting take on the statistics in your comment on Jeff’s blog.