semantics

With the recent news about Jian Ghomeshi and Bill Cosby’s alleged predilections for unwanted contact of a sexual nature and ensuing discussion of rape culture, I’m going to write about a subject that will make some people exceedingly uncomfortable.

It’s the use of the word “molest,” particularly when an adult sexually assaults a child

This is a real problem for me and I have a massive axe to grind about this one. Especially when I was told I could not call what happened to me when I was thirteen was “rape” when I was really “molested.” As a result, as an under aged (I was thirteen) gay (well, closeted, confused and afterwards incredibly angry and broken) male, I was not able to consider myself a rape survivor and therefore comment on rape culture.

So let’s first dispense with semantics and get with the dictionary definitions of these terms.

molest
1. To disturb, interfere with, or annoy: “Adams warned them not to molest American ships engaged in lawful commerce” (Walter McDougall).
2a. To subject (a child) to sexual contact; b. To subject (an adult) to unwanted sexual contact.

rape
1. unlawful sexual intercourse or any other sexual penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person, with or without force, by a sex organ, other body part, or foreign object, without the consent of the victim.

So, yes I was disturbed, interfered with and yes annoyed. Yes I was subjected to sexual contact. However the perpetrator indeed had unlawful sexual intercourse with penetration of another person (me) without my consent. This person was a physically larger adult male, who was an authority figure in my faith AND in the community, who used his position to force his genitalia INTO me.

Hmmm…that seems an awful lot like “rape” to me. However an adult raping a child who was thirteen years of age is too icky and uncomfortable for people to consider, so let’s give it a euphemism to make folks (usually other adults) feel more comfortable about it – despite the consequences it has on the victims.

So because I was a young man, abused by a male authority figure, what happened to me wasn’t “rape” according to many who want to discuss rape culture. I was molested which isn’t as serious – I mean after all I was only subjected to sexual contact. Because it was male on male “abuse” I should have been able to suck it up and it should not have impacted me as strongly as it did.

I spent 17 years of my life eating myself to death, trying to bury my feelings, believing that I was not an individual worthy of being loved. I ended up weighing 385 lbs, pre-diabetic with hypertension and failing back due to the added weight. But you know, I was only molested so all of this denial, poor self-image and hatred of myself was due to personal failings and not the irreparable harm caused by being raped.

Bullshit! The concepts of rape culture are a lot more complex than the people who tout it want you to believe. It isn’t so cut and dry and can cross gender lines. Rape isn’t strictly a male on female act – it occurs across gender lines, sexuality and generations. So as a “molestation survivor” or “victim of child sexual abuse” I DO have the right to call myself a “rape survivor.”

Adults who rape children are called “molesters” or “abusers” and not “pederasts who rape children” – time to stop softening what these people do with a euphemism to make us all comfortable about the darker side of human nature and ourselves.

Sorry folks, my name is Myke and I’m a rape survivor. I’ve dealt with it, time for you to do so as well.