Let’s Retire ‘Rape’ as a Metaphor

In an interview published today by Sky News, Charlize Theron likens press intrusions to rape:

“I don’t [google myself], so that’s my saving grace. When you start living in that world, and doing that, you start I guess feeling raped.”

As a survivor of domestic violence herself, and a longtime ambassador to end sexual abuse in South Africa and with the UN, Theron still felt the reference was appropriate, underscoring how normalized the rape metaphor has become. To be clear, journalists going through your garbage and taking long lens photos is intrusive, but it’s not rape and it’s not like rape.  Rape is what happened to two girls in India before they were left to die, hanging from a tree. Rape is what often happens to women who refuse the advances of men. And rape is what happens to someone every two minutes in the US.

So when Deborah Simmons, Glenn BeckJennifer Lawrence, Johnny DeppMiley Cyrus, or any other public figure makes rape a joke or uses it as a metaphor in politics, in sports, or in celebrity news – we’re diminishing the struggles of survivors.

It’s time to retire rape as a metaphor.