Rape is not beating someone at a video game or being beaten in one.
Rape is not being under-prepared for an exam.
Rape is not rebooting a cheesy ’90s children’s show into a gritty short.
Rape is not the horrific treatment of cows in the dairy industry.
Rape is not clear-cut logging.
These are all real-life uses of the word “rape/raped” I’ve heard. And each one makes my blood boil.
Rape is a profoundly dehumanizing act of intimate terror against another person. Multiply marginalized people are disproportionately targeted and impacted by sexualized violence. One in three women is a survivor of sexualized violence. That means there is a survivor in every room.
Think about that. Statistically, there is a survivor of sexualized violence in every room of three or more people. That means that those “edgy” rape jokes, that complete misappropriation of the term rape to refer to some minor setback in your day, that use of rape to describe a legitimate issue like factory farming and environmental degradation? They’re likely reminding someone of the worst day of their life. They may be triggering someone into a state of dissociation, panic, or profound despair.
And they are definitely alienating someone. They are telling survivors in the room that you are not a safe person to disclose to. That you may not be a safe person to be around, period. They are telling a survivor at a protest that you care more about logging or veganism than about violence that disproportionately targets women, trans folks, and people of colour (and folks who occupy one or more of those identities).
When people tell me they don’t know a single woman (or person) who has experienced sexualized violence I think: Fuck that. You’ve just shown yourself to be unsafe to ever tell.