Okay, so I thought – maybe foolishly – that after the discussions of binders of women, the concept of “legitimate” rape, and the whole Republican White House defeat, that maybe we had moved beyond having to classify sexual assault by levels. That, perhaps, we had decided that any sexual assault was bad, and it didn’t matter who did it or who they did it to.
And then KHOU ruined my morning by their oh-so-specific headline: “HPD: Woman date raped by man she met on Facebook.”
Because, you see, HPD (or KHOU…or both) are now saying that this woman’s rape was, well, it was just “date rape.” Like, you know, it’s just “a family matter” when it’s incest or domestic violence.
We have all these great little euphemisms to help take away from what actually happens, and to make us feel better.
Because if it’s “just” “date rape,” well, we don’t have to be concerned. She obviously is part of the problem, right? She met him on Facebook and then met up with him. So we can blame her just as much as we can blame him. Isn’t that the point? Otherwise, why not be clear? Why not say, “Woman raped by sexual predator.” Says the same thing, doesn’t it? But it takes the blame off the victim…it takes the burden of the meeting off the woman…and it shifts that burden to the truth. A predator/criminal/whatever you want to call him sexually assaulted another human being.
Language is such a tricky thing, and we can bend it and use it however we want to. Maybe we should take a time out to examine what we say when we refer to a crime, a criminal, and a victim. Maybe we shouldn’t come up with these little explain-it-away kinds of phrases that make us feel better but make the victim feel even more victimized.
So, just to clear it up for those who missed it:
Rape is rape.
There is no difference between rape, date rape, legitimate rape, incestuous rape, or any of those other little classifications that we like to put on it to try to shift the locus of blame.