This Calgary Herald column, discussing the language surrounding sexual violence in laws pertaining to sex offender registry, was brought to my attention today.
I agree; it is absolutely necessary to be mindful of our words when discussing the issue. With the innuendo that inevitably crops up upon entering uncomfortable territory, it’s all too easy to follow the language to a safer, more removed area. A place where we can minimize or equivocate to our heart’s content without a moment’s reflection on the many, many voices and experiences dismissed and voided in the process. Enough tone and distance, and one might even have trouble identifying sexual assault at all. To wit:
“The college student who finds himself up on charges the night after a drunken party because a female partygoer sobered up and decided what happened between them wasn’t consensual after all, is not a sex offender whose name should appear in the registry.”
Apparently, you’re not a real sex offender if you have the right dictionary (survivor; see also: “blaming”), and a copy of Rape Myths Mad Libs. I’d drink to that, but then I’d have to change my mind after I sobered up.
Contact the Herald and let them know (with “precise wording”) what you think about the importance of language.
(Also, check out Joseph’s detailed post for more analysis and less knee-jerk sarcasm)