Why Couldn't I Say "Rape"

One of my extremely good friends is finishing out her high school career abroad, and I spent the weekend at her apartment with some other friends as a send-off party before she left. When we were discussing how she would get around, since she can’t drive yet, she said that she wouldn’t go into a taxi alone. I agreed.

“Yeah, that’s not a good idea, you don’t wanna get…hurt,” I said.

The word I had in mind was raped, but I felt uncomfortable saying it. She didn’t, though.

“Yeah, since I definitely do not want to get raped or molested or something by a cab driver,” she said.

Why did I have such a problem saying the word rape? Seriously, what was wrong with me? Rape is a crime, just like murder. Both are horrible, horrible sins, but they happen every day. I have no problem saying the word murder; why did I feel uncomfortable with the word rape? I felt sickened with myself.

I’ve only just realized that I shouldn’t have felt that way. I should feel sickened with society for fostering the idea that rape, domestic violence, and other crimes against women are bad words, taboo topics, Things-That-Must-Not-Be-Named. The only way to combat something is to be able to discuss it; if you sweep it under the rug and try to forget it exists, it’ll never be stopped.

My favorite book of all time is Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. (Every self-respecting feminist MUST have read it. If you have not, go reserve it at the library. I’m serious. Right now.) The main character, Melinda, is shunned by her peers for calling the police at a party - but they don’t know that the reason she called was because she had been raped. Nobody does. Because of her outcast status and PTSD from the rape, she stops speaking until she finally tells what happened at the party.

We need to speak out loud on behalf of all the Melindas out there who feel that they can't speak for themselves. Unfortunately, there are a lot of them. Every nine seconds, a woman is assaulted. We need to be vocal about stopping rape and other sex crimes, and helping survivors go on with their lives. If we don’t force society to talk about rape and help those who have survived it, rape will continue to ruin the lives of women around the world.

More articles by Category: Arts and culture, Feminism, Gender-based violence, Violence against women
More articles by Tag: Activism and advocacy, Rape, Sexualized violence, Domestic violence, Sexuality, Books



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