“How did you do?”
“I just raped that test.”
Stop right there. That is not okay. Sometimes our words have a stronger impact than we see, and this is just one example of this phenomenon. The impact that language such as this has is an unintentional promotion of sexual violence. We’re in an age that is no longer accepting that sexual abuse is okay, and this language counters those steps forward.
When a rape victim hears the word used in that context, they don’t think of doing really well on a test. They think of the traumatizing experience that had significant effects on their life. It also gives less gravity to instances when the word rape needs to be used literally. This same thought can apply to other words, as well.
These are some words that might be offensive or hurtful for others to hear and that promote sexual violence:
The list goes on and on. The important thing to note is that words like these, while derogatory, are often used when friends talk to each other, as if they were terms of endearment. By accepting the usage of these words, we open the door to using them in hurtful ways. Sharing with friends your feelings about these words is key to stopping this trend sooner rather than later.
This is not meant to call out or blame anybody for the language they use, but rather to educate about how changing that language will help the anti-abuse cause. We understand that this language is all around us – on TV, online and in everyday conversation – and this makes it nearly impossible to avoid exposure.
Most people at some point have used a word they probably shouldn’t have. The mature thing to do is to take responsibility for having said it, and vow to try and change the way you express yourself.
How do we stop others from saying it, though? It is well known here at loveisrespect that you cannot make anybody decide to do anything. The choice to pay attention to language has to be solely made by the other person. The most you can do is educate them.
Confronting friends and strangers is a brave move. Make sure to explain why you’re not OK with that language and explain why that term could be offensive to others. Make sure to engage others in conversation, but never in a heated discussion so that the situation does not escalate.
Remember that everyone deserves respect in a relationship. While language that is promoting sexual violence is still strongly used, it makes it more difficult to promote this truth. Let’s all pay attention to the language we use and work together to help people in abusive situations.