Recent stories in the news about sexual assault (Dennis Hastert, Baylor University, Bill Cosby, etc.) have been inappropriately using the term “sex scandal” to describe the events.
Let me be clear. Sexual assault is not a scandal, it is a violent crime.
Get caught shtupping a colleague, now that’s a scandal. Forcing yourself on another person (including coercion) is assault. And the words we use to describe these two very different things are of great significance.
Dennis Hastert didn’t have a friendly romp with some consenting young men. He violated children.
Baylor’s problem isn’t that students are having consensual sex behind closed doors on a Christian campus. It’s that women are being forced to do things they don’t want to do by others who are exerting their dominance over them.
Bill Cosby isn’t accused of being an adulturer. He’s accused of drugging women so he could do whatever he wanted to their bodies.
The words we use are so important, and when we use incorrect terms to describe violent acts, it minimizes the offense and scandalizes the victims.