Likely, I have grasped your attention using this provocative, yet apt, title. It is my precise intention to provoke thought. Take a moment to consider what I may mean by saying rape is a loving touch or how that thought originated.
Words matter greatly in relationships. Much of the conflict I see in child custody cases originates through differing applications of meanings to words or actions. I can give you a definition of “discipline” derived from assorted lexicons or use in a sentence; It was necessary for the athletes to have a coach to discipline them so they wouldn’t overwork their muscles and cause injury. Yet, ask a set of parents what it means to “discipline” a child and you may get one who is way off the mark and has a definition akin to retribution or vengeance. When uniformity in definitions is lacking conflict may arise. Similarly, there are situational definitions. What speed is “fast” when driving on the interstate or running in a hallway?
In statutes terms are defined, usually in a definitions section at the beginning of the chapter, as they may have a meaning far from that applied in the common vernacular. Worried about your child being abducted because of the total number of abductions reported? Don’t be. Some states define “abduction” to include keeping or withholding a child from another parent during a time that parent is to have custody or parenting time. Running a half hour late to the exchange and don’t give any notice? You may have “abducted” the child depending on your jurisdiction.
While most cultured adults can distinguish meanings to time or place it can become complicated for a child. Euphemisms, which require direct explanation or repeated situational experience to be understood, can be a great source of disjunct in interpretation by children.
There are two psychological bases for the use of euphemisms. First, some people choose to deceive by couching accurate explanation in vague Euphemisms. Meanings are hidden from those who are not part of the in-group which is privy to the understood meaning. “People who are invested in the community” seems like a neutral evaluation unless you know the demographic composition of the community. If you know that there is nearly 100% occupant/owners of well-above median priced homes who are white folks and that a nearby apartment complex is nearly 100% non-white renters then that phrase takes the meaning “non-whites”.
The other basis is avoidance. It is under this scheme in which people use euphemisms often relating to topics considered taboo. Similarly, the topics may be beyond the realm of the users capacity to accurately explain the meaning or context of the subject. This is where parents possessed of these deficiencies use the term “making love” as representative of the procreative interaction between organisms accurately termed “sexual intercourse.”
It is in under that context in which rape becomes a loving touch. That common Euphemism -- “making love” -- could represent sexual intercourse. In my application, making love and sexual intercourse differ significantly in meaning. Primarily that one describes a physical act between organisms and the other describes an emotional or cognitive act between people.
To “make love” should leave a person feeling desired, accepted, and in want of more. Engaging in sexual intercourse is simply the practice of an erect penis being inserted into the vagina, partially removed and repeated in a thrusting motion. It may culminate with ejaculation. I may be, but is not necessarily, parcel to a love making act. But, that same physical act is also parcel to rape.
So imagine that a child walks in on his parents while they are engaged in sexual intercourse and gets yelled at to get out of the room. Later he is told by his parents that they were “making love”. Alternatively, the intrusion upon parents who were simply cuddling while one gently strokes the forehead of the other stretching from the eyebrows into the hairline while applying gently kisses does not evoke the visceral reaction. This child, possessed of the flash of a visual stimulus of the physical act without accompanying associative audible cues to the emotional connection, gives the connotation “making love” to only the physical act of coitus.
Upon witnessing a rape or hearing it described what term does he associate to that act?
He has successfully been instructed that rape is a loving touch.
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