22 Jun 2016 17:08 IST

Mind your language

Don’t trivialise rape with loose talk

One of our superstars reportedly said he felt “raped” after a gruelling shoot for a movie. For now, let’s not debate whether it’s right for him to use such language to describe some physical strain. Let’s not even discuss whether it’s an insult to womankind or a poor attempt at humour. Let us, though, for one moment, imagine how it might actually be to be raped. Terrifying, isn’t it? We know how dreadful it feels to be groped, pinched and assaulted in ways big and small. Even a catcall is enough to set off a writhing jumble of anger, self-loathing, fear and anguish among many women, not to mention the self-doubt that they might have somehow invited the unwelcome attention, a doubt that refuses to be quashed, thanks to centuries of conditioning.

A good portion of profanity in many languages attacks one’s provenance and preferences, almost always in relation to their mother/sister/wife. If the insult is meant for a woman, it’s her morals that come under direct attack. It doesn’t matter that the person using it does not mean it literally. There may be other words, curses, if you like, to express your frustration or anger, without having to engage in loose talk that draws in and assails people unconnected to the issue.

Three years ago, the gory attack and rape of Nirbhaya spurred a storm of protests that went a long way in raising awareness of women’s issues. We now hear of incidents of rape and other violence every single day. And yet, we continue to be insensitive to their magnitude and impact. Big changes can be made in small beginnings. Let us stop to think for a moment the next time we use the word “rape” to describe something that is clearly not, or call someone a name that has nothing to do with their behaviour and everything to do with their parentage.

Deputy Editor