Oh, Rape Analogies


So, Pandagon recently discussed a pretty disturbing conservative-leaning “comic” that depicted a scene between President Obama and the Statue of Liberty after he had apparently raped her — he tells her to shut up, and promises to come back with friends to repeat the act.  The rape metaphor is pretty popular in politics, but that was a particularly disturbing example of it.

Unfortunately, Bill Maher has come out with one equally so.  I’m not going to quote it, because it’s pretty harsh.

What is it with the rape metaphors in politics?  What makes people think that horrible, violent, triggering, marginalizing analogies are at all appropriate to a political discussion?  You want to say that Obama should ignore the loudly-expressed opinions of the conservative right and go about his business through the appropriate venues, fine.  I wouldn’t be opposed to that.  But graphic rape analogies are not just unnecessary — they are cruel.

According to RAINN, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will be a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime.  This means that 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men have the potential to have serious flashbacks about an assault due to such graphic rape metaphors.  This does not include the number of people who have not been assaulted who could potentially be disturbed by these — including, but not limited to, people who have witnessed an assault or have friends and loved ones who have been assaulted.

There are ways to get your point across that do not involve rape imagery.  It seems that such analogies have become the unthinking go-to descriptors when it comes to the discussion of politics.

The Pandagon article went in a different direction with this (they discuss more of the conservative use of such metaphors paralleled with their treatment of actual  cases of rape), but there is one quote in particular I think is very relevant.

I have, thankfully, never been a victim of sexual assault, but I’ve met my share of survivors, read their stories and done my best, as a compassionate human, to understand what the attacks have done to them, and to work as an ally to make sure that I stand against those who would minimize those attacks.

I cannot speak for anyone who’s suffered through the process of dealing with assault, but I’ve yet to see anyone who’s dealt first-hand with the issue see it as a metaphor to be drug out to describe political events. It’s far too personal for that. It’s like describing a zoning decision as a Holocaust — it’s just too big to be a metaphor.

One Response to “Oh, Rape Analogies”

  1. 1 Edman

    Bill, WTF?

    I’m always torn on whether to like Maher or not. Sometimes he’ll make a great point while being funny, like in “Religulous”, but then turn around and throw something like this out there.

    I really hope he’s called out on this one.

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