As I was mining the Internet to find something to write about this week,* I stumbled upon a little info-graphic getting some serious sharsies on Facebook. It calls out those who choose to use ‘gay’ and ‘retarded’ when there’s literally A WHOLE 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 one done up for ‘crazy’ — it, of course, being a loaded word among those suffering from mental health issues — but there’s another word that I’d really like people to stop using in casual conversation: rape.
I’ve overheard/read all of the following, uttered by GROWN-ASS ADULTS: “that 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? I can’t even. The fact that this phrase is emblazoned ON A REAL T-SHIRT YOU CAN BUY to be worn by fanboys makes me want to never leave my house again. WHY DID THIS BECOME A THING?
Rape is a visceral, potent word, and using it carelessly — read: using it to describe, you know, ANYTHING OTHER THAN RAPE — diminishes it. Casual usage desensitizes us to a word that should conjure horror. It silences victims. (I don’t know about you, but I know I’d feel SUPER COMFORTABLE speaking out about a traumatic, life-altering experience surrounded by a bunch of assholes in “George Lucas raped my childhood” crew-necks.) 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 STOP THROWING IT AROUND. We could all afford to be more sensitive — and we could also try a little harder to sound like we’ve read a book before. Choose your words carefully and deliberately. And BUY A DICTIONARY.
Jen Zoratti is the former music editor of Uptown Magazine and freelance pontificator. It warms her cold, frozen heart when words are used correctly. Follow her on Twitter @JenZoratti.
*I was totally going write about the election, you guys, but BOOM! LEGITIMATE DEFEAT! is as far as I got.