Once again, an ignorant comment about rape is in the news.
Disbelief rose as an offensive headline jumped out at me recently. “India crime chief causes outrage with ‘If you can’t prevent rape, you enjoy it’ comment.”
According to a EuroNews report, Ranjit Sigha –the chief of India’s equivalent to our FBI – made a comment last week during a conference about illegal sports betting and the need to legalize gambling to make revenue from it. “If you cannot enforce the ban on betting, it is like saying ‘If you can’t prevent rape, you enjoy it.’” Now he’s crying foul, saying his words were taken out of context. Even if they were, the fact that someone in charge of sexual assault investigations would use such an analogy is outrageous and unacceptable.
To even entertain the idea that being raped is like betting or any other illegal behavior that is hard to enforce is insolent at best.
It reminded me of an insulting remark about “legitimate rape” made by Representative Todd Akin from Missouri last year. He found himself in hot water following his absurd statements during an interview. The discussion was about abortion, but that’s not what grabbed my attention.
After being asked about his stance on abortion, he was making the point that he is opposed to it including instances of rape. Agree, or disagree, that’s not my focus. Here is a partial quote that gets to my purpose:
“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Mr. Akin said of pregnancies from rape. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.’ ”
Really? Legitimate Rape? This would be opposed to what? Maybe “Oh, he was drunk and didn’t mean it?” Or, “Well, she was asking for it.” Or even “It’s not really rape when you’re related.” Apparently a legitimate rape is only when it’s a stranger in a dark alley.
Does anyone really believe a woman’s egg can actually tell the difference between a rapist’s sperm and a lover’s sperm? This mindset and type of comment is incomprehensible.
Unfortunately for Mr. Akin, his foolish logic about pregnancy and rape was broadcast for all to hear and see.
Even more unfortunately, there are far too many people who think along these lines.
It’s not just men who are in denial about this. Whoopi Goldberg famously insisted the rape of a then-13 year-old girl by then-45 year-old film director Roman Polanski “wasn’t rape-rape”. She inferred that because the girl didn’t scream and yell and throw punches it wasn’t rape. No, he only got the girl drunk and gave her drugs to make her less resistant.
Apparently that wasn’t legitimate rape, either.
We don’t want to say the “R” word because it’s dirty, shameful, a hot button.
It’s bad enough that women raped by strangers in dark alleys are too often judged and don’t receive the support they need. But, when it’s someone the victim knows; yes even a family member, what does that say about our society when we just look the other way because it’s uncomfortable?
It’s past time for us all to move beyond the barriers of shame, secrecy and ignorance. Sexual violence is far too common. It’s not enough to be outraged for a day, a week, or even a few months. We can put our outrage into action. One way is to consider your own vocabulary. Call it what it is. Rape.
What are your thoughts about the “R” word?