The glass was cool; I leaned my forehead against it before sinking below the railing and sitting down on the radiator. I felt disconnected. It was hard for me to understand how people could be so ignorant. I didn’t run on the wavelength. I never had, and I never would.
They were right, at least partially. Rape is an herb. The word rape, in botany, belongs to the mustard family; it’s the same group that covers the cabbage, the mustard plant, and the turnip. It’s used for lubrication, cooking, illumination, and making soap.
I sipped my apple juice. Used for making soap. Somehow, I found I wasn’t surprised.
I looked up all of its definitions. The refuse of grapes left after extraction of the juice in winemaking. A European plant of the mustard family. Ordinary. But not funny.
The only thing that had come to mind was “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” It in no way applied to the situation. Maybe people can be ignorant. But that ignorance doesn’t entitle them to be inconsiderate.
There were more definitions. To plunder or pillage. To seize or carry off by force. Abusive or improper treatment, a violation. The crime of forcing another person to submit to sex acts.
The definitions streamed across the wide range of wine to sex. It was ridiculous to have one word mean such completely different things. With the myriad of words available in the English language, it should have been easy to come up with another word for it. Perhaps even just “stringy yellow plant.”
They laughed. They heard the start of the paper, they made the connection between rape as an act and rape as a herb. They cracked jokes. And they laughed. I listened for as long as I could, until I couldn’t breathe. And then I got up and walked out. I wanted to scream. I could still hear them laughing from all the way down the hall. I wasn’t sure I could go back inside.
Every two minutes, someone in the United States is raped. Each year, there are about 207, 754 victims. 44 percent of rape victims are under the age of 18. 80 percent are under the age of 30. 54 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to police. 97 percent of rapists don’t even spend ONE day in jail. Two-thirds of assaults are committed by someone the victim has met previously. 38 percent are committed by a friend or acquaintance. It’s that on one hand; it’s a yellow plant on the other. It’s grapes. It’s soap.
When I left, the door slammed behind me. I hadn’t meant for that to happen. Or maybe I had.
Rape jokes aren’t funny.