Thursday, May 07, 2009
RAPE and The Use of Language
Right now I'm fighting HARD to maintain charity, although to be honest, I've already lost it tonight, and I'm still trying to figure out how to be sorry enough to take it to Confession.
There are few things that really get to me, and strike me right to the core of my heart and soul. There are few things that terrify me to such a degree I'd rather die a thousand horrible deaths than suffer it.
I'm arachnophobic, very obviously so, but I'd rather allow spiders to crawl all over me than suffer what so many women and men survive every minute of every day: RAPE
What has set me off? I saw that word used today in frivolous terms. I fully believe that the person using the word "rape" has never experienced the violation of body and soul, and likely has never had anyone close to him suffer it, either. He's likely not a person to whom it would ever happen. The reality is that to him, "rape" is just a word used in frequent news headlines, and the many euphamisms that discuss it probably make it seem like a word as normal as "terrorist" or "homicide" or "airstrike".
Oh, wait. I see the problem.
When, exactly, did those words become "normal"?
We live in a violent society. Words, especially words involving sexual connotation, are tossed around like confetti. And all too often, what is supposed to be the most sacred, holy act a human being can do is twisted and turned into perversion, or violence...anything other than what God intended it to be. I was raised to believe that sexual relations is a participation in God's own creative power, and even a further participation in salvation. It is supposed to be intimate, beautiful, personal, loving...and productive. Perhaps that product isn't always children, but more of a unitive aspect of self-giving and trust between a man and a woman who have become one flesh through the Sacrament of Marriage.
Call me naive.
Yet what has happened? It goes all the way back to Eden; before the fall, Adam and Eve were naked without shame. After the fall, what was the FIRST thing they did? They covered themselves. Why? Because suddenly, they had ceased to be persons, but had become objects of desire. Even before they hid themselves from God, they hid themselves from EACH OTHER.
Fast forward to today. We can't get away from sex. It's everywhere. It's in our faces. If we want to be chaste, we are attacked. The idea of celibacy is attacked and "experts" tell us it's unhealthy while they go on and on actively encouraging the various perversions that cause various ongoing mental illnesses and ongoing victimizations.
I know what you're thinking.
You're thinking that because the word "rape" used frivolously is offensive to me, it must have happened to me. You're psychoanalyzing me.
It's OK..I do it, too. Having worked a long time in mental health, it's a side effect to make such assumptions. In fact, I work really hard NOT to profile people, because, in reality, even if I'm right, it's a violation of that individual's privacy. To a degree, that kind of profiling can be helpful in aiding someone, in understanding them, and reacting to them in a professional manner. To another degree...it's an abuse of one's position and knowledge, it's an affront to the dignity of the person you've made an unwitting target, and it COULD be a detriment to the reputation of that person, whether you are right or wrong about them.
I'm not going to answer whether it's happened to me or not, because the question is irrelevant. To suggest I'm offended because it might have happened to me is to say that those who have not experienced such a horrible violence can't get involved because they know nothing about it. Conversely, if I were to say that it has not happened to me, you would muse that the offense comes from some other source, not the actual act of violence itself, and therefore I must be upset by something else, something very Freudian or Jungian?
Sound about right?
You don't get that answer. It's irrelevant. And no matter what you decide about it...you're wrong.
The reality is this: if you use words like "Rape" frivolously to discuss what one sports team is doing to another, you've crossed a boundary.
If you notice, even MEDIA outlets, those known to go OUT OF THEIR WAY to use words to overdramatize actions refrain from using "rape" from anything other than what it is. They will use other euphamisms, and even non-mainstream news outlets will watch certain words. No doubt it won't be long before that changes, but let's be thankful for that blessed respect where we can get it, ok?
Words Implicate the Soul
When I was in law enforcement training, we had a class in interviewing. Everything I learned there has actually been bourne out, spiritually, for me. Those things of which we are guilty we tend to talk around. If you talk to a person about whether or not he set a house on fire, if he is guilty, he will say that he was never near the house, he will say that he never lit matches near the house...he will never use the words "set fire" or even "fire'. If you talk to someone who has just murdered someone, they will say they never "harmed" that person. They will do everything they can to soften the terms used.
If you talk to a rapist, that man will never use the word "rape". If DNA evidence is present, he will use the words "sex", "intercourse", vulgar terms, and if it is suggested that he raped the woman, he will say, "she wasn't forced to do anything." He talks around the word. A truthful person will use the word.
Why? Because they accept that violent word as meaning something horrible and they CONDEMN the horror of the act. Only one who condemns the act can find the strength to say the word.
This reality is being lessened in our world, where violent words are becoming frivolous and even pretentious slang.
We are being desensitized, every day, to acts expressed through language. Connotations are being changed. We are being lulled. We are being manipulated into a Pavlovian universe where bad is being made to seem good.
And yet...if we speak out at the wrongness of this manipulation, we are villified. We are bullied. We are ridiculed.
What disappointed me most tonight is that the person who caused the offense is supposed to be one of the "good guys." He's supposed to be, and presents himself as being one of those who respects the role of women and the role of men.
And yet, he didn't see a problem with his word usage. I'll not name him, it doesn't matter. Sadly, he represents too many men, and even too many women who would also not see the problem. Even further, this person claims that because other women have not claimed to be offended, they must not be so.
How sad. Firstly that apparently offense against the dignity of the person comes from someone who should know better. Secondly, because he assumes that because other women have not spoken up, they must not be offended, and because that non-vote of silence was taken, perhaps I don't have a right to be offended.
I AM offended, I have the RIGHT to be offended, and DAMN IT, as long as such abuse occurs, I am GOING to be offended, and I REFUSE to apologize for standing up for what is right!
Language is important! We need to stand up and refuse to be cowed, refuse to be intimidated by people who suggest we be more "tolerant", who suggest we "calm down", or that maybe we don't have the right to have an opinion to something clearly stated.
When I worked in psych, I once had a patient who had more than enough ability to overpower me suggest, in anger that a certain waif of a staff person be raped because of the limits she set. I've had multiple patients suggest, in all sincerity, "You should get raped, b***".
I've been in positions, at work, where that could have happened.
"RAPE" is NOT a frivolous word. It's an act of the worst kind of violence that can ever happen to someone, male or female. It means something. Something more awful than anything any of us want to imagine. Worse than many of us COULD imagine.
We need to take care in how we use language. Are we desensitized to its true meaning? Are we desensitizing others? Are we offended but afraid to speak up for fear we might be attacked?
Doesn't that SAY something?
People, speak up! We Christians are being accused of "hate speech", but in reality, we've been experiencing it for a long time. They're just changing the definition because we've let it happen. We've let people who speak for evil desensitize us to violent words such that we don't see the violence in them anymore. We let people who speak for evil change the legal definitions such that they twist the meanings in order to silence our protests as we try to live out holiness and speak for God.
I, for one, am not willing to stand for this. Are YOU?