Sunday, April 28, 2013

Rape Isn't a Sport


To people who use "rape" to describe a cricket performance:

There is nothing even remotely funny about rape. If you think it is a clever word to describe the utter decimation of a cricket team by another, think again.

You are on Facebook. You are actively vocal about your opinions thanks to its Status Update feature. That makes you tech-savvy and educated. Wait, did I say educated? I take that back. I’ll go with "literate". You are literate enough to voice your opinion about a cricket match, but when you say things like "XYZ raped the ABC team" or "XYZ was gang-raped by 11 men", you prove you are far from educated.

We live in India during a time when no other word is more commonly splashed around in the media than "rape". We have the dubious distinction of nurturing a "rape culture".

Rape culture does not just begin and end with the men who think that women are mere objects for them to violate. Rape culture includes the society that encourages it. A society that is insensitive to the plight of thousands of women and young girls who are brutalized.

That society includes you. You who so callously bandies around words like "rape" and "gang rape" to describe a cricket performance.

Think about the young woman who was gang raped by six men on a bus, who screamed for help even as the brutes gouged out her innards with an iron rod. Think about a five-year-old girl who lies in a hospital, traumatized after being gang raped by two men – men who did things so terrible to her tiny body, it makes me sick to even mention here. Think about the six-year-old girl who was found in a public toilet, raped and left for dead, her throat slit.

That is RAPE. Is that what you equate with the blistering knock of Chris Gayle? Is that the word you want to use to describe the complete annihilation of PWI or RCB?

Are you that insensitive? Or is it simply apathy? Are you so smug and content in the belief that it couldn't happen to you or to someone you love? That rape only happens to someone else – some nameless faceless stranger whose ordeal earns her a two-column piece on the front page, an hour’s debate on the 9:00 news and a candle light vigil at the India Gate.

What if (God forbid) it did happen to you or someone close to you? Would you still use "rape" or "gang rape" to describe a spectacular performance?

Open the dictionary. You will find it to be a wonderful book. There are words like "decimate", "obliterate", "annihilate", "drubbing", "defeat", "vanquish", "expunge" and more. Or is your brain, much like your petty insensitive mind, so tiny that it can only grasp completely inappropriate four-letter words?

17 comments:

  1. Thank you for writing this piece.

    I wish I had written it as I strongly feel the same.

    Its not just insensitivity but just what male lingo is all about. Doing things associated with forced involuntary sex with females is heroism. Comes from deep insecurity or not being able to win a girl's heart otherwise apparently.

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  2. Very well written. Your words mirror the rage that every woman feels.

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  3. @Vikrama: You'll be surprised - it wasn't male lingo. A status update by a woman inspired this post. Insensitivity transcends genders. Here's a twitpic of the exchange: http://t.co/wFcxKz3WAm

    @Anna: Thanks :) There are men out there who are equally enraged. That is some sort of solace.

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  4. Well said.

    I still have no idea why your post won't show up on my feed reader.

    Thanks to Bhumika and Anu's FB status that got me here.

    May I subscribe to you on FB?

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  5. That's a very good topic you have chosen to write about.

    Loved it :)

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  6. It's sad that one would choose to use such language in the wake of the horrific rapes recently. It's also ironical that my spell check asks me if I'm sure I meant "rapes" and not tapes/rates, but we exercise no discretion or checks when such language is used.

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  7. @Praveen: I'm not sure why that is. But yes, you could use the FB route.

    @SEPO: Thanks!

    @Taran: It's complete insensitivity. I heard there's an FB page which has memes parodying the 5-year-old girl. Disgusting.

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  8. Aptly put. To add to your point, apart from the callous usage of the word 'rape' I also have a problem with the candlelight vigils and the prime time news debates.
    The debates do not move beyond the point of raising fingers, heated arguments, verbose comments and all silence then.
    We forget, we move on and we wait for another incident to take place, another ghastly crime to shake us up awake, and then an uproar again.
    It is like a never-ending cycle.

    Why do have to wait for things to happen? Why can we not be pro-active and try and change the system? Clean the dirt?

    Why can't daughters be raised not in fear?

    Time we teach our daughters to fight and not fear and our sons to protect and respect.

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  9. @Sakshi: Very true. Unfortunately, public memory is short and media houses just want maximum mileage out of horrific incidents to bump up their ratings.

    We have to be the change that we want to see - teach youngsters to be respectful and sensitive, to understand the equality of genders and so forth.

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  10. Much needed article. Especially after recent press about it,ppl should be more conscious of their linked expressions.

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  11. Thank you for writing this. I was aghast just a few days ago when I read a status update on Facebook. It is unfortunate that people are accepting the fact that rape is something mundane. It should not be! And it is definitely not to be used to describe an event that does not relate to its actual meaning.

    People who have their heads high up their behinds, think we are prude to be thinking this way and it's "just an expression". If you are one of them, please go talk to a person who has gone through the trauma and then decide.

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  12. I tend to use that word without knowing its negative impact. I Apologize. Will stop doing it here onwards. Good Post.

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  13. I know exactly what you mean. This isn't limited to sports alone. I've heard men use the term in the corporate world to describe review meetings and I've always cringed. Stunted vocabulary.

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  14. @Karthik: Thanks :) It's good to see a change for the better.

    @Smriti: Stunted vocabulary, deformed souls, putrid brains.

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  15. Very Sensitive Topic & Excellent Write up!!
    I Strongly Have The Same Feeling, But Not Have The Platform To Share.

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  16. Your post made me look back at the past. I grew up in a lower middle class set up. Back in school days, kids ( are 12 – 14 yr old referred to as kids these days ?) used ‘rape’ in different contexts so often that it almost was part of the common vocabulary of growing up days. And ‘rape’ as a word was not just about girls, infact , ‘sodomy’ as an abuse was more commonly used . Makes me wonder if we really understood what we were uttering. While it is highly insensitive to be using ‘rape’ without giving thought to the trauma and the male brutality, I think we who get offended should make some changes to the way we react to such utterances. Instead of rushing to judge someone, I believe we should politely point out the insensitivity of such status or comments.
    I think the male psyche still views rape as a titillating factor. Blame it on Bollywood movies or whatever the sources are. But this titillation runs deep beyond immediate social constructs. This might be me theorizing without any scientific proof, I still think rape disgusts and titillates men at different levels. Men (introspective men to be precise) I believe have always dabbled with this inherent contradictory undertones in their persona. On one side, ‘rape’ evokes the deepest disgust for fellow beings who commit such horrendous act and also maybe at a deeper level a rabid curiosity. Guess now am completely off tangent. The point I was trying to make, while there are idiots who put such messages across visibly, there are millions who are ‘illiterates’ at deeper levels. And the question is , how do we annihilate this level. Is it really possible ? how do we as individuals instill belief system which defeats even nascent undertones which are brutal in their very nature ?..

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  17. @mizarukikazaruiwazaru: Well said and I agree. Insensitive words, used completely out of context, have become such a common part of social interactions that we often lose sight of their real meaning or how insensitive it is. I've found that politely pointing it out works - well, most times. There's the occasional guffaw and sneer.

    It is almost impossible to think we can completely obliterate the 'illiteracy' at deeper levels. One can only try. Tiny baby steps at a time.

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