Examine Your Language
Words matter. Phrases can be used to actively reinforce the justification of oppressive behavior. Take for example, “boys will be boys.” This phrase is used to uphold rape culture, and minimize and excuse sexual violence, whether knowingly or not. Additional words and phrases reinforce rape culture by blaming, shaming and silencing victims. Our culture reinforces all the doubts in a survivor’s trauma response with the use of rape jokes, victim-blaming and defending abusers in news reports, and our societal silence—all forms of language that normalize sexual violence. All these examples, compounded by silence from many powerful institutions and leaders, continue to normalize sexual violence. It’s time to critically examine our language and actively challenge the structures that uphold rape culture. This includes a deep examination of our language use and, as a society, the need to break the silence around rape culture that allows it to persist.
Because language is a tool for oppression, and because we all have language, we all have a role to play in analyzing our words and doing better. At some point, we all come from a place of being less informed. Once we know better, we have a responsibility to do better.
- Words Matter Video
- Changing the Narrative of Violence Against Women: A Media Resource
- 25 Everyday Examples of Rape Culture
- What My ‘80s Childhood Taught Me About Rape Culture via BUST Magazine
- The Problem with ‘Hey Guys’ via The Atlantic
- 70 Inclusive Language Principles That Will Make You A More Successful Recruiter
- Ableism/Language via Lydia X. Z. Brown