I haven’t played Text Twist in years. I really enjoy playing it – so much so that a few years ago, I stopped playing it all together. I figured it was sinful to use so much of my time and mental energy on a game. Well, the other day, my family convinced me to get a Text Twist app on my phone. I looked it up, found Text Twist Turbo, downloaded it, and began playing.
If you’re unfamiliar with Text Twist, it’s a spin-off of Scrabble. You are given letters and must make as many words with those letters as you can. In one of my rounds, I had the following letters.
I was on a word-making roll until I keyed in RAPED. The game told me that wasn’t a word. Next I tried RAPES. Again the game persisted in not allowing my word. Of course when I also tried to play RAPE, my word was rejected.
Rape is a word.
Although the word conjures images and feelings of assault, violation, power, powerlessness, shame, fear, regret, and too many others to name, it is a word. And it is a word that describes an act of violence forced upon far too many people.
I assume the Text Twist Turbo people had no nefarious intent in prohibiting the word RAPE and its variants in their game. I further assume they believed they were doing a social good by attempting to eradicate the word from the English language. But what if their actions were a social ill? What if their actions were themselves a metaphorical rape?
Rape is a word.
And removing it from our lexicon will not prevent its violence from occurring. To the contrary, removing the word for this action further removes discussion about it. If we don’t have a word to talk about it, then we can pretend it doesn’t happen. If we pretend it doesn’t happen, we won’t educate people about it. If we don’t educate people about it, it will happen all the more. When it happens all the more, the people who survive the violence won’t have a way to talk about it and will suffer in silence, perhaps believing they imagined an offense even occurred.
We already struggle enough with people not understanding what rape is. I heard of a teenage girl who awoke to find her boyfriend’s penis inside of her. She didn’t realize she had been raped, even though she clearly did not give consent. I assume her boyfriend may not have understood he needed consent to have sex with his girlfriend.
This is wrong. We should teach our children. We don’t need just to teach our girls how to avoid getting raped. We also need to teach our boys that they are not due any sort of physical intimacy. I’m not indicting males for all rapes, nor am I indicating that females are the only ones who get raped. I’m just trying to start from where we are and expand our educational borders.
I’m offended at the arrogance of pretending rape isn’t a word. We can’t remove it from our vocabulary until we remove it from our society. And even then, we should keep the word so we will remember and survivors will have a voice.