Against the Slang Use of the Word Rape: A Langtonian-Birdian Reproach
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A disturbing trend that has surfaced recently in slang language is to use the word rape in a joking or hyperbolic manner. An example of this is, "I raped that exam!" In this paper, I argue that such use of the term rape is immoral. I begin by modeling my case after British philosopher Rae Langton's argument that pornography "silences" the speech of women in a particular way. I then discuss Alexander Bird's objection to Langton's notion of "silencing." In the end, I develop a hybrid theory that respects the cogency of Bird's objection while retaining the spirit of Langton's view. By analyzing communication in a novel way, I argue that the slang use of the word rape immorally silences rape victims/survivors, although not in the way Langton's argument would suggest. * This article may be triggering to survivors of sexual assault and abuse.