Critique and graphic by: Chris Talbot-Heindl
Over the weekend, I was having a nice little political conversation in my front yard, when it happened. The dick said “rape” in reference to financial pressure. Guess what, dick, what you are describing isn’t “rape.” Not even remotely.
I would like to take this time to critique people who use the word “rape” to signify something other than rape.
Rape as a verb means to force another person to have sexual intercourse without their consent and against their will. Know how I know that? Because I opened a fucking dictionary, and because the verb happened to me.
People like to use the word “rape” willy nilly to describe anything they don’t like that has happened. This not only belittles the brutality that survivors have experienced, but it also cheapens the power of the word. The act of rape is such a barbarity that the word needs to remain severe. Period.
I had a boss once, let’s call him “Dick.” Dick liked to use the verb and the noun “rape” to signify all kinds of things, big and small. He did this often and without consideration. During a staff meeting, employees were encouraged to speak about what their ideal situation in the office was to develop a safe space. I spoke out and stated that as a survivor, I did not feel the office was a safe space when people used the word “rape.” I explained that when I heard the word, my back would stiffen, my heart would palpitate, and I would get cold sweats. That word for me brought back a flood of memories and feelings that I didn’t want to deal with on a daily basis, and especially not in an office that purported to be a “safe space.”
Dick’s response was a surprising one. Dick told me that people in the office shouldn’t have to curtail their language to make others feel more comfortable. He explained that if we abstained from the word “rape,” we may have to desist from using other words that made others feel uncomfortable (“you may even be asked not to swear!”), and this could be a slippery slope into not being able to say anything. It was something along those lines, although I can’t recall it exactly, as my shock had kicked in and I was only half hearing the drivel pouring out of his mouth.
My reaction: Dick is a dick.
I don’t go around advertising to people that I am a survivor (except, obviously to make a point, such as I’m doing right now). I don’t introduce myself, “Hi, my name is Chris, and I’m a survivor.” If I am divulging that I am, it is because, A.) I trust you completely and want to share that part of my history with you, or B.) because you are triggering something and I want you to fucking stop what you are doing before I have a full blown melt-down.
But people like Dick and the man I talked to over the weekend can’t fathom these things. Thankfully, rape has never happened to them. Unfortunately, they feel so strongly about whatever subject they are talking about, they feel it necessary to use an intense word, regardless of what its true meaning is or how it may make others feel. Unfortunately, they apparently also are incapable of opening a fucking Thesaurus.
To all of the Dicks in the world, please make a mental note: what you are doing is hurting survivors and you should desist immediately.
And to help you in your search for a potent and extreme word, here’s a few you might try: fucked, screwed, cheated, tricked, deceived, swindled, conned, scammed, duped, fooled, ripped off, bamboozled, stiffed, coerced, pressured, browbeat, bulldozed, ruined, destroyed, fouled, twisted, extorted, forced, wrested, hoodwinked, double-crossed, shafted, finagled, put one over, pulled a fast one, suckered, etc.