A note to aspiring journalists

Sex Scandal: A controversy around sex that is consensual or at least contractual- such as a politician having an affair or seeing a prostitute.

Sex Charges: Either some hitherto unknown form of electricity, or what happens when bondage goes very, very wrong.

Sexual Assault: When that slightly suspicious lady who cloned her dog is found to have raped a man, (whether Mormon or not) where foreign objects are inserted into body cavities without consent, or any case of rape allegations.

Sexual Abuse: When said rape involves elements of power abuse, (like say, affairs with the boss gone wrong…) pedophilia, etc…

Please get them straight before we have already distressing stories complicated by your often rape-apologist choice of words.

I’ll spare “alleged” if it’s a matter that’s to go to court or if said person is protesting their innocence despite a lack of criminal charges being pressed, but that should be 101-level stuff anyway.

The confusion of politeness

So, one more post about the reaction to this whole Fritzl thing. This ought to be the last though, I think. Having reminded several people I’ve talked to about this news that yes, sex without explicit1 and free2 consent is rape, and weasling out of calling it such is just perpetuating this weird social attitude that while rape is not okay, we don’t necessarily have to condemn it explicitely. As you can imagine, the internal cognitive dissonance of this self-contradictory position makes it pretty funny to even write it down, let alone say it out loud.

One objection I’ve repeatedly heard (although fortunately not yet from people whose opinions I trust and value on this sort of matter) is that rape is not a term that is okay for public discussion. I pushed on this a bit harder and was told we should use the term “non-consensual sex” in the public arena. Why? While rape is a term that covers an emotive subject, it’s not inherently offensive, the word itself has no religious or cultural bias, and there are no strong taboos associated with it. Every bit of revoltion we feel when we hear the word rape is directly merited by the concept. What’s more, I feel that “sex” implies consentuality. The term “non-consensual sex” seems about as appropriate for rape as “non-violent violence” does for mental abuse. I pushed further for clarification about why rape is so objectionable a word to use. Apparently rape is “impolite.” And that one word explained everything I needed to know. Continue reading

The Conspicuously Absent Word

Has anyone else noticed that the word “rape” is missing in action from the news lately? (both one and three on the TV, I have no clue about Prime, and the Dom is also suffering from a bout of rape-avoidance)

Not once have they described Josef Fritzl, who drugged, imprisoned, neglected, repeatedly impregnated, and essentially treated his own daughter as a sex slave as either “abuse” or “rape”. Not even with the qualification that it was “alleged”. Or even in reference to his previous conviction.

Just because a word is emotionally charged (like “murder”, which makes the news all the time) doesn’t mean you can never use it. It merely means you need to reserve it for extreme cases.

If this is not an extreme case, I would like to see what is.