How language influences rape culture


Walking through a school hallway, walking through Frankfurt or talking with your male friends or siblings, you might come across a few phrases that have become all too common, “we just got raped” or “she’s gonna be attacked,” and there’s little done about it. As a 17-year-old girl, I like going dancing, I enjoy expressing myself through clothes and makeup and I love sharing these things with my friends. It’s a Friday night and we’re all waiting until the clock strikes midnight so we can make our way to the club. We’ve spent a few hours together, getting ready, having dinner and drinking wine and screaming our lungs out to Mama Mia. And now we make our way to the Zeil. For any woman who knows this infamous place spackled by meagre trees and the glaring streetlights casting strange shadows onto the cobblestones, she will know how to act. Hunched back, head down, no loud steps, closed coat and perhaps even keys in hand ready to use as a weapon if necessary. These are all things we learn as young girls. This is normal for us. We are so influenced by the language around us, that just a night out with our friends can make our blood run cold with fear and adrenaline. Having strangers stares on our bodies and whistles ringing in our ears is not in any way a compliment or something that boosts our egos. In no way does a hand lingering justify as a “just brushing past.” Women have gotten killed because they have rejected men in their lives. Friendzoning is considered something extremely negative, even though most of the time the woman just wants to have a friendship with a man. Something that should be beautiful and healthy turns into something disgusting, someone you considered a friend thinking you owe them something for that friendship. And all of this is normalized because of language. By using words such as “rape” in our daily vocabulary, and objectifying women not just through looks, but by saying she will be “attacked” and making it seem like a compliment, language influences rape culture. Street harassment has been normalized and something every woman is told to simply accept. The saying that probably annoys me the most is one that every girl has heard from a very young age, “boys will be boys.” This statement does not only victimize women and justify men’s actions, but it also makes it seem as if men have no way to control themselves and no way of learning, which in my eyes is simply rude towards the male species as well. Stopping victim blaming is only one part of decreasing the spread of rape culture. Stopping the language we use actively, helps to choose to diminish rape culture. I believe this starts with authority figures changing their language. Teachers not only asking boys to help them lift something, stopping the need to tell girls to stop showing their bra straps which have been apart of female clothing for over 100 years and banning the statement of “boys will be boys” when we are living in the 21st century. Language is a huge factor of rape culture and changing the way we speak diminishes the objectification of women and the need to dominate us.