The Danger in Renaming Rape

Link to "When You Call a Rape Anything But Rape, You Are Just Making Excuses for Rapists"
Link to “When You Call a Rape Anything But Rape, You Are Just Making Excuses for Rapists”

“If you kill a person, you’re a murderer. If you steal, no one would hesitate to call you a thief. But in America, when you force yourself on someone sexually, some people will jump through flaming hoops not to call you a rapist…’Sex’ isn’t nonconsensual. Only rape is. Conflating the two gives credence to the myth that rape is just a particular shade of sex, rather than a violent crime” (linked above).

“A widely accepted definition of rape—even a progressive, feminist one—will not change everything, and it won’t eradicate rape. But it is a necessary step to shift the culture. The reason we have qualifiers—legitimate, forcible, date, gray—is because at the end of the day it’s not enough to say ‘rape’. We don’t believe it on its own and we want to know what “kind” of assault it was in order to make a value judgment about what really happened—and to believe that it couldn’t happen to us. It’s not because most people are bad, or want to blame rape victims. Americans are simply too mired in misogyny…” (Ending Rape Illiteracy, Jessica Valenti 2012)

Related Posts:

Rape Apologism and Denialism

Universities Rebrand Rape

Sexual Violence: Understanding the Terms

Blaming the Victim


3 thoughts on “The Danger in Renaming Rape

  1. I do agree with the idea that we should not white wash rape and make “gray area rape” acceptable. However, as a survivor of sexual abuse from an intimate partner, I personally would benefit if we found another word for that type of rape. The word “rape” just doesn’t fit for me, even though that’s what it technically was. It’s not that it wasn’t as bad as the more traditional definition of rape, where the act is physically violent and by someone that’s a stranger or acquaintance. It’s just that it really is very different in how it affected me compared to that type (in guilt for not fighting back, emotions related to it being consensual some other times, etc.), why it happened, etc. than if it had been more cut and dry.

    Because of that, I’ve had a really hard time seeing it as as bad as it was, simply because the only word out there, “rape”, just doesn’t fit with what happened in my head or the head’s of people around me. And so I minimize it, as do those around me. At least for me, I feel if we had a more specific word for this type of rape/abuse, that was created by people who do not minimize rape (which is what most current names for “types” of rape that you rightfully criticize are doing), then I would be less likely to minimize my own experiences, because I wouldn’t have to worry it wasn’t “really” rape. I could easily identify it as “that’s what it was, and that’s how bad it was, and that’s why it affected me”. I don’t know if that makes sense or not, but I’d prefer to have a specific word that means “person you were in some sort of romantic/sexual relationship with forced you to have sex by threats, ignoring your no, etc.”. Rape is just too general to encompass that. I typically use nonconsensual sex, sexual abuse, or sexual assault, as those seem a little more inclusive of my experience, but I don’t feel they’re enough.

    So it’s not that what happened to me wasn’t rape in the technical form of the word as “sex someone finds a way to force when the other person is not giving consent”. It’s just that the connotations both I and many people in society have with the word “rape”, isn’t inclusive enough. And I don’t think that those connotations will completely go away, because the more conventional implications in the word “rape” is just too ingrained in me. And I also just can’t put him in the same category as a stranger in the bushes type of rapist. It’s not even that I’m saying he’s worse or better than that type of person. It’s just that it’s such a different situation, with different effects on the survivor, that I would be able to move on much better if I had a far more fitting word for it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s