Rape-in-the-English-dictionary

Photo by Marlo Campbell

An earlier version of this column originally ran at Spectator Tribune, republished with permission. Read more SCREAMING at the Spec Trib.

One late night when I was mining the Internet to find something to write about, I stumbled upon a little infographic getting some serious sharsies on Facebook. It calls out those who choose to use ‘gay’ and ‘retarded’ when there’s literally A WHOLE FUCKING DICTIONARY full of other words that would not only be way less offensive, but probably way more accurate.

WORDS HAVE MEANINGS, YOU GUYS.

One of my FB pals rightly suggested there should be a similar infographic done up for ‘crazy’ — it, of course, being a loaded word among those suffering from mental health issues.

There’s another word that I’d really like people to stop using in casual conversation: rape.

I’ve overheard all of the following, mostly uttered by literate grown-ass adults who have mortgages: “that bill totally raped my bank account” and “stop raping my phone” and, my personal favourite, “George Lucas raped my childhood.”

O RLY? George Lucas forced sex on your childhood? JESUS CHRIST I CAN’T EVEN. And the fact that this bon mot was emblazoned ON REAL T-SHIRTS FANBOYS COULD ACTUALLY BUY makes me want to never leave my house again.

Rape is a visceral, potent word and using it carelessly — read: using it to describe, you know, ANYTHING OTHER THAN RAPE — diminishes it. Careless usage trivializes a word that should conjure absolute horror.

Careless usage also silences victims because that word’s reality gets divorced from the word itself.

Imagine being a survivor of a traumatic, life-altering event and then having to move through life surrounded by a bunch of assholes in “George Lucas raped my childhood” crew-necks. Way to completely minimize someone’s experience.

I know most people who use such eloquent turns of phrase as “that guy totally raped my Facebook page” don’t condone rape — but they sure as shit contribute to rape culture.

As a fellow feminist columnist writes, “You start throwing it around like it doesn’t mean anything and, sooner rather than later, it won’t.” SO LET’S STOP THROWING IT AROUND. We could all afford to be more sensitive — and, frankly, we could also try a little harder to sound like we’ve read a book before.