Perhaps you have heard a similar phrase after a sporting event: “Oh man, that team got raped.” Or maybe you remember the writers of the animated show “South Park” depicting Steven Spielberg and George Lucas raping Indiana Jones.
There’s also the scene in the film “Observe and Report” where Seth Rogan date rapes Anna Ferris.
In all of these instances, rape is used in an attempt to be funny – attempt being the key word.
Americans should not be caught chuckling about a crime that victimized more than 100,000 U.S. citizens in 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Even less humorous is that Time magazine reported that same year that more than 25 percent of South African men surveyed said they had committed rape.
As students, it is time we decide once and for all that rape is not a punch line. It is a crime against humanity that causes severe physical and psychological damage. The casual usage of this word in the media and from people of our generation has desensitized rape in our culture.
While they weren’t dropping the “r-word,” a fraternity at Yale University marched pledges around the girls’ dorms last October chanting: “No means yes, yes means anal,” according to Time. The U.S. Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights did not find the antics funny and is investigating Yale for not adequately punishing the students, according to Time.
Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, education institutions that receive public funding cannot discriminate against women. Some say by failing to deal with this incident correctly, the university has undermined Title IX. The Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity also failed in its attempt at humor.
The reality is that saying something for pure shock value is not humor. It’s not just a word, it’s a dehumanizing act that is becoming more and more accepted, as far as entertainment is concerned.
Rape transcends the realm of “just words” inhabited by slang curse words and derogatory slurs. It is too severe to let slip through the cracks into the category of cool lingo.
We need to take a stand against cheap humor like this. We already say “killed,” “beat” and “whooped” in the same regard. Do we really need to add another violent act to our everyday vocabulary, much less this one?
Recently, USF held its “Take Back The Night” event that spoke out against sexual violence.
I believe we should also take back the word. The word “rape” should never be used lightly because it describes one of the most heinous acts a human being can commit.
Joe Polito is a junior majoring in mass communications.