I am going to talk about a four letter word thrown around causally in society today. (Fair warning, this post may not be easy to read.)
The word is rape.
Rape is a topic that is tricky in the Christian community. The open and welcoming arms of Christ are not always echoed by the members of a congregation that does not have the skills to address the issue of rape. But I am not going to address the dogma, reasons, or implications of rape, instead I want to talk about the word rape.
- You have the word thrown around in relation to abortion rights.
- Sexual liberation activists use this word frequently.
- I read an article last week in which the author wrote that she felt like she had been "verbally raped" on twitter because of something the opposing side said to her.
- I was with a group of Christians this last week and I heard a young man say, "Yeah, the test was terrible, it totally raped me." I turned to see who could possibly be comparing their failure to perform academically to the egregious violation of the human body. The offenders? Not some rough scary man but rather two teenage boys; judging by their letter jackets, juniors in high school.
So what bothers me so much about these things? People say that I am reading too much into it, that it is just a word. But that is not true. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines rape as:
unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will usually of a female or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent.
an outrageous violation
Rape is an outrageous violation. We have become incredibly desensitized to the word rape and I think we have forgotten what it really means. Your lack of preparation for a test, is not rape. Your acing a test is not rape. Someone saying something you don't want to hear is not rape. We start hearing about date rape in middle/high school. We see movies, television shows, and books that romanticize and downplay rape. I believe that this desensitization and romanticism comes from a warped view of masculinity and femininity.
So, I am calling for action.
Men, stand up. I know that term is thrown around casually in male circles more often than in women's circles. Stand up for your wives, mothers, sisters, friends, daughters. You were given the incredible job of protecting the women in your life.I believe that part of that protection includes reminding other men that just because the rest of the world says it, does not mean that it is ok. Yeah, it can (and probably will be) awkward. However, on this I would like to quote Ellie Wiesel who said that regarding moral issues, "We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim... sometimes we must interfere". I guarantee you when you put a stop to that kind of conversation there is at least one person in every single group that will be immensely thankful for your bravery.
Women, speak up. I should have said something to the young men, and I did not. I didn't want to make anyone uncomfortable. I didn't want to be that crazy woman. And you know what? It has been nagging at me for days. I have no problem telling a group of people to watch their language or comments if they are inappropriate. Why is this subject any different? Because there is a curtain around the issue of rape. It is a word that leaves people with a bitter taste in their mouths if they really stop to think about it. So, women (especially those who have experienced rape) need to speak up and lift the curtain. Rape does not make you dirty or unclean, it does not make you damaged for not wanting to hear that word in everyday conversation. Don't let your voice be silenced by fear judgement or condemnation. You are a child of God, protected by His healing hands.
If you have been a victim of sexual assault or rape, speak up. There are churches, missions, and organizations that can help you, no matter how long ago the crime occurred. Do not let being the victim be the end of your story. You survived, now it is time to thrive under the all encompassing arms of Jesus Christ. He is the only way to be free from the devastation that is rape. If you have questions or need resources contact me here and I will gladly pass along information.