A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Think about it

Posted by Pepper on January 7, 2015

I am talking about the usage of the word ‘rape’. I’ve given it a lot of thought. Do most of you even know that the original meaning of the word was; ‘destroy or strip of possession’. Or like Wiki says, “to snatch, to grab, to carry off”. It is only in recent times that the word become synonymous with forced intercourse or sexual assault.

Have a look at the etymology on wiki. I’ve pasted it below for the sake of convenience.

Etymology of term

The term rape originates in the Latin rapere (supine stem raptum), “to snatch, to grab, to carry off”.[21][22] Since the 14th century, the term has come to mean “to seize and take away by force”.[1] In Roman law the carrying off of a woman by force, with or without intercourse, constituted “raptus”.[22] In Medieval English law the same term could refer to either kidnapping or rape in the modern sense of “sexual violation”.[21] The original meaning of “carry off by force” is still found in some phrases, such as “rape and pillage” or in titles, such as the story of the Rape of the Sabine Women or the poem The Rape of the Lock, which is about the theft of a lock of hair.

Here is another link that says the same thing.


And now, we as a society have begun to condemn, criticize and hate people who use the word ‘rape’ in its original form. The other day, I heard somebody say, “It was so cold, the strong wind was raping me”. The girl who made that statement was condemned by one and all. She was called insensitive and inhuman for using the word so callously. Everybody hated her for her supposedly inconsiderate words. She was made to feel very ashamed.

But it set me thinking. We have started associating that word ONLY with sexual assault and anybody who uses it keeping its original meaning in mind is a monster. Why? In my ideal world, I would reclaim the original meaning and context and STOP associating the word with sexual violation. Instead, we choose to affiliate the word only with sexual violation and assault and want to forget about its original meaning. Hmm..

15 Responses to “Think about it”

  1. Vani said

    ‘Gay’ is another such word 🙂

    • Pepper said

      Thankfully, I still get by with using that word without getting people to raise their eyebrows or giving me deathly glares. I often say I am happy and gay today 😀

  2. Boiling said

    Well whatever the word originally meant, what matters is what it means now. There are so many words that originally meant something nice and now have a negative connotation. Languages evolve.

    • Pepper said

      The word still means both the things. But we have become so politically correct that we do not allow the word to be used in any other way. I understand rape is a very heinous crime, but so is murder (infact I think murder is worse). But we usually don’t criticize people for saying “the comedian killed it on stage” or “my boss killed me today”, do we? By being so sensitive about the usage of rape alone, we are in a way making the crime even worse than it already is. Not sure how to put this, but it’s like adding to a victim’s shame by telling him/her “you were subject to the worst crime of the lot. It’s much worse to be raped than to be murdered!”

      In hindsight, the example I have given may also not be the best to illustrate my point. A better one would be its common usage is in sports. For example – “the cricket team raped their opponents on the field today” is a no-no vs “the cricket team plundered their opponents on the field today” is ok. Raped and plundered are synonyms, so both should fit in this context. But when one uses the term rape, it is implicitly assumed that he/she only meant sexual crime, so he/she must have meant the opponents were violated, humiliated, shamed and everything associated with the crime, and hence, is a very callous person who is inconsiderate to rape survivors.

      While there are a lot of people who do use the term insensitively in the latter sense, there are some who genuinely use it in the former context. I think, neither should they be criticized so much, nor should the other meaning of the word be forgotten and eliminated from our lexicon. Just my thoughts.

      • Boiling said

        Now that you put it that way, I think it is acceptable as long as the word is in the dictionary but often certain words lose their meanings over time. Lot of words change their contexts over time. Some words come to represent certain ideas.

        Apple may be a fruit but when you say apple, most people immediately think of steve jobs

        In terms of political correctness, it is considered wrong to say a hell lot of things. Everything becomes an issue these days!

        • Pepper said

          Haan, that’s what I am saying. We should be allowed to use the word keeping in mind the dictionary definition of it. If there are multiple definitions, we should be able to use the word in multiple ways. If you look at the word ‘rape’, you’ll know it has more than one definition in the dictionary.

          Similarly, like you say Apple. Just because it has now come to be associated with Steve Jobs, we shouldn’t ban people from referring to it as a fruit, right!

  3. Deboshree said

    Thanks for sharing this Pepper. I will admit I am one of those people who admit casual and often needless use of this word. However, I suspect that the people I hear using the word more often than not imply the sexual interpretation.

  4. Deboshree said

    *I meant I detest needless use of the word.

  5. I had no clue about the original meaning of the word. I am one of those who uses the work out of context a lot. Thankfylly noone has reprimanded me for the same … Yet.

  6. aarya said

    I am one of those who would mind the usage of word rape; reason could be that I was not even aware that it had some other meaning. But I would still think that the person using such a word is doing so to get attention and maybe sound sensational. Like a friend who would say ‘The food was orgasmic’.

    • Deboshree said

      Yes this too! On similar lines, I know some people who use “sexy” as an adjective for everything ranging from earrings to potted plants. Drives me nuts.

    • Stu said

      Agree with Aarya. I wonder if the girl you quoted in your example, Pepper, actually was aware of the etymology and the exact meaning. there are good chances she wasn’t. if she was and she only used this word because she thought the wind was going ““to snatch, to grab, to carry off” and thus she can/should use the word Rape, it’s another matter.

      Similarly I wouldn’t also condone anybody who says stuff like e.g. oh your mother looks like a bitch, because suppose she actually does look like a cute cocker-spaniel. sometimes one has got to respect sensibilities. we can argue for argument’s sake though.

  7. Reblogged this on oshriradhekrishnabole.

  8. I did not know that the word meant that either! Though I did think that even otherwise, making a deal of it in another context did not need the hype or condemnation it gets. Other words too “he’s getting fucked/screwed at work”. Big deal. I am not sure using the word in other contexts is insensitivity. Might be, for someone who has undergone the pain, and yes there one has to be careful, but then one should be (and is) careful saying “nobody died” in front anyone who has recently suffered that loss too.
    Too much thought happening, but what I am saying is we outrage way too much about peripheral stuff that we forget the main thing.

  9. The problem lies in its current interpretation and form. Like for instance, Germany raping Brazil during last WC. Guess, its a sports and the word is so abused, nowadays. I feel we should avoid being insensitive. But, on the other hand, what do you think of the Chatur thingy in 3 Idiots? Quite debatable.

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