Words are only part of the problem

[Content note: ableism, rape]

It seems everyone is losing faith in politicians these days, and you can see why when it seems every other week one of them is making headlines for having said something horrendously offensive. I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to get tired of public figures apologising for ill-chosen words, when usually the words they’ve chosen are only part of the problem.

Two days, two scandals. Both about words.
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Steubenville, CNN and the language of rape

Steubenville rape case rally - Anonymous

Last week I wrote a piece about Steubenville, victim blaming and rape culture for Indy Voices. I thought I’d cross-post since it’s likely to appeal to this blog’s audience:

‘Who is to blame for sexual assault?’ The language of rape

It’s a seemingly very simple question – and yet it generates heated debate any time rape hits the news.

When a guru claimed that an Indian student was partially responsible for being raped and murdered, his comments were reviled as backward and repulsive; no doubt there will be a similar reaction to police telling a Swiss tourist who was gang raped in India that she must bear some responsibilityfor the attack. Yet however strong the backlash, these opinions are pervasive – not just in India, but also in the West. In every high-profile rape case, there seem to be a crowd of people rushing to find anyone to blame but the perpetrator, be it the victim or society at large.

Who suffers as the result of sexual assault? A slightly less simple question, whose answer is even more widely contested than that of the first. The victim? The community? The attackers?

Over the last few months, the name of a small town in Ohio has become synonymous with a rape case which gained infamy after video footage of the incident was distributed online. Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, two teenage football players from Steubenville, were convicted on Sunday of raping a 16-year-old girl at a series of parties in August. The case has been steeped in controversy since it began, and the trial and its outcome have been the subject of international scrutiny…

Read the whole thing here.

Image: marsmet523 on Flickr.