Maintaining distinctions: whatever the context, rape is wrong

June 26, 2013 — Leave a comment

The word ‘rape’ is a negative term. It rightly defines the abhorrent act of sexual violence committed by one human being against another human being.

Thesage’ defines rape as:
a)      The crime of forcing a woman to submit to sexual intercourse White_Cotton_T_Shirt_20130626131821461_20130626133653190against her will.
b)      The act of despoiling a country in warfare

a)      Destroy and strip of its possession
b)      Force (someone) to have sex against their will

(etymologically speaking it means = to seize prey, take by force)

Most psychologically balanced individuals would agree that the integrity of this definition should be upheld in no uncertain terms. The term ‘rape’ describes the act of rape. That is it describes an act of sexual violence, which most Western societies uphold as unacceptable and abhorrent.

However, in some online gaming subcultures the term is tolerated, and in some cases encouraged. For example: some gamers “beat their chests” by frequently ‘smacking’ (verbal taunting/bragging), their opponents with the words ‘rape’, ‘own’ and ‘pawned’ . These are often accompanied by the phrase ‘I just made you my b%#tch’, which is specifically used when one gamer wins or perceives some form of victory – dominance – over their online opponent.

This could just be dismissed as harmless immature, adolescent fun; a reflection of the fact that the online gaming context is predominantly occupied by men, most who feel as though their masculinity, has been forced underground by radical feminism.  This would be accurate up to a point, but it cannot justify the online gaming trend that makes the misappropriation, and therefore watering down, of the term ‘rape’ acceptable.

Yesterday a mate of mine on Facebook linked a 2hr lecture by John Stackhouse (Regent College, Canada) about ‘Sexual Morality, Pastoral Implications, and Public Policy’. (I cautiously agree with his developing theology on this issue and recommend  it.You can listen to that lecture here)…

As far as politicians go, on this issue, today most seem to be content to just ‘go with the flow’ of the plebiscite, so the real leader in Western democratic societies becomes popular opinion – or as Stackhouse pointed out: 51% of the population.

He then goes on to suggest resourceful ways the church can better decode those messages and respond in a balanced and respectful way.

One high point, among many, was when Stackhouse points out a problem with the messages about morality that society as a whole, is sending to the church…using the comedy genre as an example, he stated that the messages the world sends the church regarding sexuality are inconsistent e.g.: hot/cold/hot/cold .. yes…no..maybe…My concern here is that the misuse of the term ‘rape’ communicates an inconsistent message that, to varying degrees, minimises or worse, discounts the significance of its impact on victims of ‘rape’ – potential or actual; physical or virtual.

An example of the inconsistency identified by Stackhouse is found in a recent news report from CNNMoney. The article outlined the decline of a business because it used the word ‘rape’ on one of their products…

‘’Fierce public backlash brought down Solid Gold Bomb, which made headlines in March for offering shirts that said “Keep Calm and Rape a Lot.” The company closed its doors last week and let go its remaining three employees. Company founder Michael Fowler is now swimming in debt and he says he’s still getting death threats, including one caller who hounded him for months insisting on meeting him in person’’ (Jose Pagliery)….read more here

For me, this unveils the brilliance of Stackhouse’s observations.

If anything exemplifies his point about the Church receiving mixed messages from society, about what should be morally acceptable, then surely this is an example which makes it to the top of the list.

The business that decided to put the phrase ‘’keep calm and rape a lot’’ on a t-shirt showed poor judgement. It was a bad decision. Nevertheless, before the men and women involved were crucified, and their livelihoods destroyed, shouldn’t those who protested, have wondered what prompted them to do it?

To say that rape is wrong, is to make an absolute moral statement – in White_Cotton_T_Shirt_20130626131821461this instance Kant’s categorical imperative is more than welcome. Rape is wrong. Therefore, given that the term ‘rape’ is having its meaning watered down by its seemingly jovial and harmless misappropriation in online-gaming. Perhaps society needs to re-examine its own post-modern allegiance to the ideological lie which considers ALL morality to be relative?

In their defence some dedicated game developers and gamers may simply accuse me of ‘’taking it way too seriously’ – dude – ‘it’s just a game’ ”don’t remove it from its context – [then insert the irritating covert aggressive statement] – just say’n”. If this is an adequate defence, then the same ethical principle should be applied to the company that made the t-shirt, after all ”it’s just a t-shirt right? – just say’n”.

If not, does this show that there is a double standard at work here?

The online-gamers’ acquiescent use of the word ‘rape’ makes it a mantra, and waters down the severity of it’s meaning. Essentially the word is deconstructed to a point where it’s meaning bestows a sense of honour on the perpetrator and reinforces a sense of shame on their victims. In the online-gaming context it is a favourable word, one used to illustrate an extension of a gamers real life ability to competitively subdue other human beings. Putting the ‘false sense of accomplishment (re: Jm.4:14-17)’ tangent aside, the fact that the term ‘rape’ is an acceptable word in some  virtual online gaming communities, should not change the way we view the seriousness of the physical crime that it defines.

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