Hey Everyone, “Sex” And “Sexual Assault” Are Not The Same Thing
10:30 am, January 9th | by Sarah Devlin
Oh, 2013. In some ways, you seem almost comfortingly familiar. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to stop confusing the members of One Direction with the members of The Wanted. Maybe one of the New York Post’s resolutions should have been to stop confusing “sex” and “sexual assault,” because judging by their cover today, they’ve still got a bit of work to do.
A quick refresher for everyone: although they both start with the same three letters, “sex” and “sexual assault” are not synonyms! While “sexual assault” exists to differentiate a particular kind of assault that is sexual in nature, the fact that it is categorized as “assault” means it’s not sex. It’s rape. And yet, here’s the cover of the Post, with “NETS SEX SHOCKER” splashed the cover next to a picture of a girl in a bikini.
The incident is correctly identified as a sexual assault in the subhead and also online — if we didn’t know any better, we’d say the Post was willfully distorting the facts in their headline to capitalize on the public’s excitement every time they read the word “SEX”/see a picture of a babe in a swimsuit. And if you have both things to put on your cover at the same time, forget about it.
We get that the Post is provocative; we get that “NETS SEXUAL ASSAULT CASE” takes up more space on the front page, is not as alliterative and might not drive people to turn to the story the way that “SEX SHOCKER” might. But after months of “legitimate rape,” “some girls rape easy,” “it’s not rape if you think that the assailant is your husband while he’s having sex with you,” and basically everything that is coming out of athlete-worshipping Steubenville, it’s frankly mind blowing that there is still such widespread conflation of “sex” and “sexual assault.” It’s not that hard — after all, “stupid,” “stupefying” and “stupendous” start with the same four letters, and they don’t mean the same thing whatsoever! Here’s a demo for the Post: this headline is stupid, we were stupefied upon reading it, and we think that believing sexual assault is synonymous with sex in 2013 is the opposite of stupendous.
[Photo via Shutterstock]