CHAPTER 8
Different Words, Different Worlds?

[My aunts] told about the wild-looking town in Northern Ontario where Aunt Iris wouldn't stop the car even to let them buy a Coke. She took one look at the lumberjacks and cried, "We'd all be raped!"

"What is raped?" said my little sister. "Oh-oh," said Iris. "It means get your pocketbook stolen." Pocketbook: an American word. My sister and I didn't know what it meant either but we were not equal to two questions in a row. And I knew that wasn't what rape meant anyway; it meant something dirty. "Purse. Purse stolen," said my mother in a festive but cautioning tone. Talk in our house was genteel.

( Munro, 1993, p.)

In the last chapter I looked at how girls are brought up to talk and act like ladies, while boys are expected to talk and act "rough." The epigraph to this chapter reinforces the discussion in that chapter about how girls are taught to avoid putting themselves into situations where they might be raped, and how even the very mention of the word is shameful and dirty. Just by being at the wrong place at the wrong time a woman "is asking for it." Saying "no" is never enough within a discourse world where male sexuality appears uncontrollable and inevitable. Metaphors linking male sexuality to violence and predation of the type I wrote about in chapter 4 sanction male aggression and female acquiescence as normal, making it easy to overlook the misogynistic elements of a variety of crimes ranging from sexual harassment to murder that men commit against women. Official statistics underestimate to an unknown degree the incidence of such crimes,

-221-

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