mid-day editorial: Don't use 'rape' as a sound byte

May 03, 2016, 08:01 IST | MiD DAY Correspondent

Motormouth Donald Trump has done it again. The Republican frontrunner for the US presidential race on Sunday referred to China’s dominance in trade as the “rape” of United States.

Trump — a politician who clearly believes in grabbing eyeballs at any cost — was lamenting the country’s trade deficit with China, and stated that the US cannot allow China to keep raping it. This is not the first time that Trump has done this — in 2011, he had used a similar analogy in another context.

While Trump may be dismissed as a motormouth, one cannot be so dismissive about his usage of the term ‘rape’. Even throwing around phrases like ‘I feel raped’ in sports or other such contexts is unwarranted at best and heinous at worst. Only a rape victim — or survivor, as they are called now — will know what it feels like to be raped. There is no parallel for such a violent sexual assault, so turning it into an analogy is particularly odious.

Not only is it incredibly insensitive to the survivors, it also gives rape a casual kind of flippancy. This might lead people to think it is okay to use rape to describe various situations, but it is not. Rape and its consequences leave a scar on the victim; survivors struggle through a lifetime battling with different feelings, fears and phobias.

In this day and age, nearly everything a famous person utters is splashed everywhere, given the lightning speed at which news travels these days, and the way in which social media reaches out to pick the most attention-grabbing statements. Now, more than ever, it important that celebrities choose their words wisely and well.

Statements like Trump’s remark show gross disrespect to rape survivors and are hardly different from repulsive jokes about sexual assault that are so casually bandied about by people who think it is hugely funny to ridicule rape (not the rapists) and trivialise a very serious crime.

Don’t use rape to make a point. It’s just not on.

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