Sunday, September 22, 2013

A protest in spite of being shut out.

Much has been said about the power of words. An English playwright wrote the now immortal line "The Pen is Mightier than the Sword". One can, in times of need choose to use words instead of  force and avert great crises. Perhaps the most blazing example of this is what is going on in Syria. On the other hand, words can do as much damage as the sword. Words can be hurtful, painful, and trauma inducing. Words can never be taken back. Words can kill.

As language evolves we human beings tend to use words in lots of different contexts without fully understanding what they mean. "I got gypped", "That's so ghetto", "You're being gay" are phrases which people frequently use without knowing what they mean exactly. They don't understand where they are coming from, how they got coined, and how by using that phrase one can in just a moment rob a whole group of people of their voice, their power, and their identity. I probably do it too. But I try not to. I try to be as sensitive as I can. I can't think of an example right this minute, but I hope that when I am being insensitive, someone will tell me, and give me a chance to apologize and acknowledge that I really should know better. It is after all the right thing to do.

I have (now had) a friend on facebook who I had expected would do the same. Today, I noticed his status which read exactly, "ManU getting raped by Man City :( " I protested. Thankfully, I had the good sense to take screenshots of the conversation to show my friends. A very good friend of mine helped me put it into a composite. All possible identifiers have been blurred out, because, I really do hope that he was just being stubborn and not willfully ignorant. I didn't remember to take a screenshot of the original status message, but hopefully, the comment preceding mine in the screenshot stands in for it.

The conversation quickly deteriorated. While I couldn't take screenshots of that part (it happened really quickly) I managed to copy and paste the conversation to show another friend. It went like this, verbatim:

Dudebro - The only reason I want to block you, is not to silence you but I don't have time to get into a stupid long ass argument because someone does not understand the difference between a literal meaning and metaphor. Why people always have to be morally correct? 

 Me -· Well, I disagree. What people fail to do when using the words like this is to have empathy for people who have actually been raped. I have worked with rape victims, and the trauma never leaves them. When they see their pain being trivialized it brings up a lot of ptsd. Think about a boy who was raped when he was a child, or a woman who was attacked - any other usage of the word "rape" needlessly brings up issues for them, right? Its the same reason we should not be using the word "gay" to put someone down either. We are human beings because we have the ability to be "human" - empathetic, sympathetic beings. Why not just do that, and listen and raise your awareness when someone steps forward and tells you that you are failing? That's what I believe. IF someone tells me that I was being hurtful, I believe that the human thing to do is to say, I'm sorry, not justify what I said. How do you know I wasn't raped? How do you know what that word means to me?

And dudebro, I'm a pretty intelligent person. The problem isn't with me not understanding what you said. I am simply telling you that its a problematic usage of the word. And I am not one to have "discovered" this suddenly either. Now, you can choose to do whatever, but your choice doesn't make me wrong. 

 Dudebro -  Does not make you right either.... 

 Me -  whatever makes you happy. But I hope this makes you think before you say it again. Cos that will be the right thing to do.  

 Dudebro - Same goes for you..  

 Me - I'm not the one being insensitive here. Your behaviour didn't teach me anything good. It just showed me how insensitive some people can be.  

 Dudebro - blah blah blah 

 Me - yup. that's nice and very mature.  

(At this point he deleted all my comments and his replies that appeared on his status message.)

Me - I called it right? youre such a self important prick I knew you'd do that. I called it right? Only serves to show me that I was right.

Dudebro - Fuck off Rini.

And, then he deleted me off his friend's list.

Please note that I have not made any changes to the copied and pasted parts of the conversation above. I have not even fixed typos I made to preserve the integrity of my post. Oh and obviously, the guy's name isn't dudebro (Although I wouldn't be surprised if some "famous" couple happens upon this name in an effort to be unique). My friend very eloquently used this word to describe my now former friend.

The point of me posting this here is probably to some extent shame publicly. Although, if he was being willfully ignorant I don't expect this post to change anything. But more importantly, I think that when the whole world is at our fingertips, and one word can make or break a person's moment/day/life, people really should learn to be a lot more sensitive and respectful. Acknowledging when one has hurt someone else is probably more important than being aware. I was never raped, but I have been molested, like many girls/boys who have grown up in India. I can't even begin to understand the kind of trauma that a person has leftover from physical assault of any kind. Let's all just be a little more sensitive when we use words. Let's all just be a little more empathetic. Perhaps then, people will feel safer and will come forward when they have been victimized. If my comments on his status made sense to one person on his entire friends list I consider my Sunday morning not wasted.


  1. Had a very similar experience in our Bibliophiles United community, where a member started a topic comparing the hype around bad books to rape. not metaphorical rape, he was talking about real rape, expressing anguish that the outrage against bad books and authors and fans of such books do not match the outrage against the nirbhaya rapists.

    Dumbledore said that fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself. Being too casual about a word could lead to casualness about the act itself.

  2. Agree completely to Amritorupa's comment above.

    A rephrasing, however, may look like "Man, U getting raped by Man-City?"