The word "rape" gets thrown around a lot—sometimes in jest, sometimes in reference to other harsh situations. Here's a breakdown of why it is not OK to use the word "rape" except as a reference to sexual violence.
TW: Discussion of rape and rape culture (and brief discussion of racism/murder)
I was on my way back to DC after visiting my family for Christmas. A college aged girl in front of me was on the phone with her father. "I raped my econ exam. Like, took it out back and had my way with it." I was stunned. Are we using the word "rape" to describe something good now? Like, I did something worthy of pride, so I shall describe my actions as having committed this horrible act?
I am a gamer, specifically League of Legends. I am on a personal crusade to educate people why they shouldn't use it to describe anything in the game as "rape." No, there is no way in this game for one character to force him or herself upon another character, so no, rape cannot happen here. Telling people that they "raped" you or you "raped" them or calling on your team to "rape" someone else trivializes and normalizes the act.
I was reading the comments in the article on Nicki Minaj and her use of the phrase "I'm raping you." Defenses are there, such as "she doesn't mean RAPE, she's saying she's empowered and has more power than men!" THATZ STILL NOT OKAY. It is still taking rape and turning it into something positive that someone can do while there are still people out there who are victims of this horribly violent crime EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I don't want someone taking what was done to me and turning it into a display of THEIR power. That's not empowering to me. That's not empowering to the millions of survivors out there.
Rape culture is perpetuated by the idea that this type of language is okay. It takes something that is horrible and violent and incredibly triggering for many people and makes it just another verb. It takes the horrible and traumatic experiences of myself and so, so many others and turns it into a taunt. Or worse, something positive that you can do.
We've all heard arguments: "does that mean that we shouldn't say that I murdered that? Should we not say I killed it? That's a violent crime too!" The difference is: we don't live in a culture and society that blames murder victims.* We don't live in a society where the clothing, sexual history, or levels of intoxication are endlessly speculated on as factors
Women especially walk around every day knowing that rape is an ever present threat. I was raped by my best friend because I was drunk. A person told me that I needed to choose my friends better. Another asked if it was REALLY rape because I was drunk. I didn't call it rape because I felt so guilty about it and complicit in it until another friend pointed out that I was so drunk that I couldn't stand. I didn't say "no," but I did say "this isn't a good idea." Repeatedly. I couldn't talk to or face the person after. Two years later, I still avoid anywhere I know he will be. That's not a drunken mistake. That's rape.
So no, taking "rape" and making it something positive or just another verb is not okay. It takes a fun hobby for me (gaming) and turns it into a constant threat of being triggered. It shows me how much people still don't take my experience seriously. It is not empowering. It is rape culture.
*Unless, of course, you are a young black man. Then your killer was just "defending himself and standing his ground." Or it was just another consequence of "gang violence" or "thugs being thugs."