Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The R-Word

I’m not sure how to talk about it. Rape. It’s a word I’ve been hearing thrown around all too often. Thankfully, I’ve never had this horrid act perpetrated upon me, but the sound of it still bothers me. Maybe it’s been too much Law & Order: SVU. I don’t know.

I think, at least once a week, I hear someone use this word to describe something commonplace. A store is “raping” us with prices. We’re getting “raped” by taxes. Can’t they use a different word? Can’t they say that we’re getting “screwed”? Or “fucked”? I could deal with “fuck” and any of the “fuck” derivatives. “Fuck” can have positive and negative connotations. No one would ever equate “screw” and “fuck” with “rape”. They are simply not equivalent words. Why are they treated as such?

One side note. A man who happens to say this word a lot, also made a really horrid comment about “mentally handicapped” / “special needs” people. At the place where I work, we do printing for various companies, one of which produces books which act as teaching aids for these individuals. Some teach the workers what is appropriate with their clients others teach about sexuality as they grow older. Discussing the job, he said that someone should just burn their hands and that would teach them not to touch themselves or anyone else. I was appalled! I didn’t know what to say. What can you say to something like that? I know I could have said something, like, “That was a disgusting thing to say!” But I didn’t. I just went about my work like nothing was said. I suppose I didn’t want to make my work condition even more horrible.

I also don’t mean to say it is just a particular man or men alone. I have heard these comments from the fairer sex as well. To hear another woman speak about getting raped by the government or whatever, disturbs me in a different way than when a man says it. When a man says it, I can just blame it on him being an insensitive prick. When a woman says it, I wonder is something wrong with her or wrong with me?

Maybe I am too sensitive to these sorts of things. Maybe I need to grow a thicker skin. Maybe I just need to accept these traits in others and not let it bother me. Yet, I also worry about it not bothering me anymore. I certainly never want to take such a volatile word and treat as just that, a word. I never want to say anything that would disturb someone so much, they couldn’t stop thinking about it for days and have to write some 500 words about it!

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