The other day, I was texting a friend while driving. Since that is illegal- I wasn’t actually texting in the conventional sense- but I was speaking into my phone’s voice recorder -which takes what I say and transcribes it into a text. So there I was in the middle of a heavy text conversation- as heavy as a text conversation can get- talking about how I was r****. I looked down at my phone. R****? Not often is anyone daring enough to censor me, least of all my cell phone. In the past, I’ve noticed the voice recorder had blocked a few words from being transcribed and changed certain words from their original form to words like f***, b****, and s***. That I can understand- well no not really, but I do know that the FCC also blocks out many of those words on open channels, so in the conventional sense it is common in the US for those typical “swears” to be censored, but rape?
I was offended that my phone was censoring the word “rape.” Why is rape a bad word? In most conversations I imagine the word rape comes up because a person is talking about something that happened to them or a story they saw on the news. What I am saying is that it is unlikely that the person who is shouting r*** into their text voice recorder is unlikely to be a rapist sharing their sex-crime plans for the evening, which happens to also be the only foreseeable reason censorship of this word is even slightly necessary, because even in that instance, I think it’s better if the word is not censored (think incriminating evidence). I’m sure that 99% of the people who are using the word rape in the sentence are usually innocent victims, or concerned friends or citizens.That makes it sketchy that “r***” is what comes out when I’m trying to say the word “rape” into my text voice recorder. To me, this is very telling, and I’m about to call Verizon’s headquarters to complain.
At first I though it was a fluke. I was driving, maybe the phone thought I said something else. I couldn’t just write this article without doing more research. Is sat in my office alone with my phone. “Rape, rape, rape, raped,” I said speaking into the phone directly and hoping no one was home and could hear me. Surely what I was doing would look odd to anyone who happened to pass by. I waited a minute for it to transcribe my voice, then looked down at the phone “R***, r***, r***, r*****.” Son of a b****, I thought to myself.
R***? What does this really say to me? It regurgitates the ideologies and judgements of our culture; a culture where rape is not the fault of the perpetrator, rather the fault of the victim for doing, saying, or wearing the wrong thing. Our culture is a culture where the word “rape” is offensive. Our society has a strong victim blaming policy when it comes to rape. Not only does our society suffer from habitual victim blaming of rape victims, but like many third world nations, it suffers from something much worse; defending and protecting the lives and the reputation of rapists at the victims expense. So why should I be surprised the American phone company that I pay ridiculous amounts of money per month has the same attitude?
Maybe I should just shut my mouth and be happy I don’t live in Morocco, where I would’ve been black listed by society if I chose not to marry my rapist or in Bangladesh where Sharia Law might allow my family to beat me to death. You know, I am not going to shut my mouth, that had always been something I’ve been unable to do. It’s always been something that’s gotten me in trouble in school or almost fired from a job, or whatever. I am going to keep b******* about this because a rape victim living a life of silence and misery to avoid offending the offending parties and society is a slow death of spirit. So f*** you Verizon. I will be calling your headquarters on my drive to work this morning. You better have some answers ready.