As a survivor of rape I notice that the word “rape” gets thrown around a lot out of context. RAINN defines sexual assault, based on the general definition used by the U.S. Justice Department, as “forced sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal, or oral penetration. Penetration may be a body part or an object.” The problem starts when people use the word “rape” to describe situations that aren’t actually rape (i.e. “I just got raped by that test,” or “I totally got raped by that video game,” or “I just got raped out of all this money.”)
Using the word out of its original context can diminish or belittle that actual crime that leaves victims scarred mentally, emotionally, and physically. Rape is a violent crime that should be recognized as just that. Rape is not a metaphor and should not be used as one. It is very disrespectful and offensive to survivors and people who know survivors of rape.
Another example of using the word in an offensive manner is Facebook rape, also known as “frape.” Frape is a slang term that is used to describe someone who posts a status on someone else’s (usually their friends) Facebook page when they stay logged in. It is disgusting to me how many “Frape” fan pages there are on Facebook. Anyone who thinks using the term in this manner is funny is obviously immature, insensitive, and unaware of the implications this can have on victims when they see these pages. There are also many websites that allow people to share examples of “frape” so they can laugh about it and have a good time.
Rape is a serious crime that violates a person’s humanity. Survivors of rape suffer from many mental health issues ranging from depression to post-traumatic stress disorder among others. A person’s life is forever changed by this act of violence that violates a person and leaves them damaged and broken inside.
Language is powerful. The way we talk and use words can change how someone perceives a particular word or situation. People need to think before they speak. It is easy for rape to become trivialized in our society because of the way our culture perceives rape. There is a lot of victim blaming that goes on because people don’t take this violent crime seriously enough.
The next time you hear someone use the word “rape” out of context I challenge you to educate them on what rape and sexual assault actually is. The stigma of rape needs to be abolished so victims feel more comfortable coming forward to report these crimes. One way we can put an end to this stigma is by using the word “rape” in its proper context. It is NOT a metaphor. Every time I hear someone use the word out of context my stomach gets twisted in knots. I have already been traumatized and people turn the word and act of violence into a joke.
We need to continue to challenge language that commits oppression. Rape is not a joke and it shouldn’t be made into one. The next time you tell your friends that you have been “raped by a video game” or “someone raped you in a basketball game” just remember that the person standing next to you may be a survivor of rape or sexual assault. If you were that person who had this violent crime perpetrated against you and you heard someone use an expression like that, how would you feel?