your story wasn’t “raped”

Posted by on May 15th, 2012

[Possible trigger alert]

My own little spiderweb of the internet has been thrumming today because of this.

It’s worth reading the whole thing, if only to see how unprofessional some of the outfits out there really are. These clowns accepted somebody’s story for an anthology and then basically rewrote it, changing details, and even adding a scene of animal abuse.

The responses from the “publisher” are so laughably pathetic that little needs to be said – or indeed added to the vast heap of virtual shit that’s presently raining down on them. If somebody did that to one of my stories without permission, and put it out with my name on it, they’d learn exactly what an “unstable writer” looked like. And of course, it’s hard for new writers out there. It takes time and experience to learn that the terms and justifications offered in defence there are total bullshit, and that no professional publisher would act that way. If you don’t know then fear can creep in about what is and isn’t done. Sympathies must lie with the writer, who’s had the misfortune to have her story butchered by these fucking cowboy dickheads.

However, the last line of the post erodes some of that sympathy:


And that phrase is also used a number of times in the many comments below the post.

Sigh. You had to go and … well, if not ruin the post, then at least spoil it slightly. It ends on a low. Look … your story was not raped. Rape is a serious, devastating, personal crime that destroys lives, and the pernicious theft of the term to describe everything from having your Facebook hacked to having your photograph taken needs to be resisted. It is not that the writer of the post is a bad person; it’s not that the overall point is undermined; it’s just yet another thoughtless acquisition of an important word.

So, with that in mind, I won’t add to that deluge of shit on the publisher, who will doubtless deservedly be out of business shortly anyway, and instead point humbly to this on why rape analogies aren’t cool.

As you were, etc.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 15th, 2012 at 4:31 pm and is filed under General, Rant. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


8 Responses to “your story wasn’t “raped””

  1. Helen Apocalypse Says:

    YES. Was with the author, outraged, right till the end of the article. Then, much sympathy lost.

  2. Luca Says:

    She has now responded to someone (me) on the comments of the post, and amended the article. Still not sure of her amendment however…

  3. Gordon Harries Says:

    It was just a deeply stupid way to end a decent article and managed to turn every discussion of this I’ve seen on this today into being about that line. Which is a great shame, as she raises points worth discussing.

    Luca: me either, but you take what you can get.

  4. stevemosby Says:

    Yeah, it’s a shame that it distracted from the main issue – although you could also say, from the volume of attention, that actually it didn’t, which is part of the problem.

    Luca – me neither. “I apologise you were offended but…” is a fair distance from “I recognise what I said was a problem”. But the point’s made, at least, and I’m glad you made it.

  5. Luca Says:

    I haven’t responded, and not sure if I will. “I apologise if you were offended…” is this worst kind of apology to give, as it absolves her all of responsibility of the offence.

    But is it worth calling her on that as well? Probably not. Think the best outcome is the one that’s occurred.

  6. Archie_V Says:

    I’m not fully convinced that the metaphorical use of a loaded word necessarily makes light of its main meaning. Isn’t it all about context and the writer or speaker’s intent? Consider these:

    “I could murder a pint.”
    “Did you see BGT last night? Total car-crash television.”
    “She’s a slave to her lippy, that woman is.”
    “Call me a gagaphobe if you will, but I can’t stand that damned record.”
    “Adverb abuse is prevalent in self-published fiction.”

    Surely we’d agree that unlawful killing, fatal road accidents, slavery, xeno- and homophobia, and child and domestic abuse are also “serious and devastating” for those who experience them either directly or close up. I certainly understand why people are uncomfortable with the non-literal use of the word rape (I’m not referring to rape “jokes” here, as discussed in the piece Steve links to), but I do wonder why the metaphorical extension of other no-laughing-matter words to trivial contexts presumably gets a pass.

  7. Alex Says:

    Thank you for this. I was so with the article until I got to that point, and then I could not sympathise any longer. What happened to her was awful, and her words don’t take away from that – but it was not, and it never will be, the same thing as rape. That comparison was awful and it completely took me out of everything that she was saying. If she hadn’t said it – or had, at the very least, offered a proper apology for it – I probably would have left the article with a less bitter, dirty taste in my mouth.

  8. stevemosby Says:

    Archie – I know what you mean, but I’m not sure they are all that different, to be honest, beyond the fact that they’re more established semantically. But that does matter: when someone says they could murder a pint, I know what that means, and it doesn’t make me think of actual murder. “Car-crash tv” refers to the phenomenon of wanting to look away but being compelled to keep looking. And so on. A lot of the rape analogies seem too new and contrived.

    But that’s a side point. If you knew someone who’d lost someone to murder, or suffered in a car-crash, and so on, you would probably take care not to use those analogies out of concern or a desire not to be flippant or cause distress. Rape is a horribly prevalent crime: the use of the analogy may cause distress to a significant number of survivors; the analogy being unchallenged may reinforce, however implicitly, that the crime and subsequent distress are considered less important than they should be. If you tell a rape joke in a room full of women, chances are you’re telling it to a number of survivors of rape. An analogy might not be intended the same way, but is equally frivolous and dismissive.

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