“Yo bro, I just got raped on that exam.”
“Let’s play another round so I can finish raping you in this game.”
“He is so damn hot, I’m probably going to have to rape him.”
Discourse on rape. Let me get a few things off my chest…
For starters, why is it that the word “rape,” although extremely vulgar and violating in nature, is oh so casually thrown around in daily conversation? From my experience, I hear the word a lot more often then I should. As a female, daughter, sister, cousin, and friend, I consider myself very sensitive to the word “rape” and its’ presence in our culture and therefore our language. Additionally, as a feminist and a scholar, I have studied various types of documents on the subject and understand its’ gendered association.
As an ARAW facilitator, now on my third year, running these workshops has left me aching with the continuous anxiety of the mix between college students, alcohol, and drugs. Every year I find myself involved in situations that could have otherwise gone completely astray and resulted in violence. I have many friends, including myself, that have either been sexually assaulted or raped on this campus and I have yet to be surprised when I overhear another “rape” joke in public settings.
It is extremely unsettling to me that the usage of the word and the context in which it is used can be so careless and passive. If you were to stop and think about what “rape” means, who is highly affected and susceptible to it, and the reality of it all, I would hope some student’s perceptions would change. “Rape”, as a gendered term, has the tendency to be associated and generalized with heterosexual, male to female encounters. Although statistically the percentage of male to female cases remain much higher than others; it is important to recognize why this is so and what “rape” stands for.
We’re talking about a word representing binaries such as dominance/oppression, power/powerless, control/uncontrollable, force/submission, etc. Gender plays a major role in this definition which then creates a context in which its’ discourse is then formed resulting in linguistic norms. It’s interesting to relate the term usage from the victory in a video game to the violating dominance of a person’s body.
A small four letter word, such as “rape,” has the linguistic power to both represent a tragic experience and at the same time a feeling of defeat and failure. I find it very interesting how a word of such dominance can easily be used within different contexts without sensitivity towards its origin.