Quoting Others Worldly Fragments

The girls who call ‘rape’


There is no difference between being raped

and going head first through a windshield

except that afterward you are afraid

not of cars

but half the human race.

Marge Piercy

Watching the afternoon dwindle away from my bedroom window the other day, Cousin Flighty and I spoke about, politics (the kind generated from a girls high school), plans for the future (the December holiday), how I should be getting married soon so that she can get a new wardrobe and then back to the less significant parts of school, studying for exams. She left me aghast with this, ‘My timetable’s going to rape me.’

In my other life, y’know the much neglected non-blogging one, I’m meant to be putting a microscope to the way my carefully selected pocket of society manipulates language to serve its own nefarious ends since there exists a close relationship between the historically and socially determined circumstances in which a community lives and the language it uses. Basically, the society we live in is reflected in the language we use. So rape, it would seem then, is so much a part of this society, so much a norm, so passively accepted, that the word has now taken on another shade of meaning. Cousin Flighty insists everybody is using it, ‘We don’t mean rape like rape but like we mean it’s really bad.’ Zapiro’s infamous cartoon showed Jacob Zuma about to rape the justice system. Surely there’s something insidiously amiss in a society where rape is so passively accepted in public discourse and used with such indiscriminate aplomb. Is it bound to raise awareness of rape as a crime, as an injustice, as oppression?


8 replies on “The girls who call ‘rape’”

>umadam, true that’s now a global usage.

nooj, I’m an advocate for language change. As long as the world changes, so too language will change with it. My concern is not so much about the language, language is too dynamic for any fuzzy duddy’s attempt to freeze it in time and place. As a sociolinguist I study language as it is used, not as a staid phenomenon.

And perhaps the word rape will come to be more widely used like this, but what does that say about this society?

>can a word describe “rape”?
a lot of words lose their meaning as languages evolve. think of “queer” and “gay”. and yet we should see rape as more than just what ur cuz was describing. on the one hand i understand your activism for the word on the other i think that we should allow English to discard and create as it evolves here…

>Cousini flighty is unfortunately correct..

How was the exam?.. Aweseome, i raped that paper..

How was level 3 on GTA.. It was simple. I raped it..

Sad yet true.. And they say the words i use to blog are harsh.

Im mild comared to Gen_X (generation x)

>gauri, it seems to be particular to South African English, particularly the variety spoken by high schoolers in Johannesburg. South Africa has a very high incidence of rape and sexual violence…

bbaisha,Perhaps our apathy has alredy immunised some of us against its harsher realities?

>I haven’t heard of this before either. While Zapiro’s cartoon had impact, the common usage of this word in the wrong context will eventually provide immunisation of sorts against the horror of the word.

>I haven’t have heard of it before in the context, to tell you the truth. It doesn’t seem to be helping any cause though.

As always Khadija, great quote 🙂

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