It is impossible to deny the power of language. One of the biggest, most powerful things language does is that it dictates what's normal in our culture.
In the case of talking about rape and sexual assault, language is especially important.
If you're not careful, you could perpetuate so many damaging stereotypes that prevent women from coming forward about their experiences and prevent men from realizing whatever sex they're having may not be as consensual as they thought.
This video of a text conversation for Barack Obama and Joe Biden's "It's On Us" campaign highlights this idea perfectly:
In the video, two guys are texting about one of the guy's sexual encounter with a woman. As the conversation continues, however, it becomes clearer and clearer that the encounter probably wasn't consensual.
When describing his interaction, one guy uses phrases like "talking to" and "encourage her a bit," but the video autocorrects those words to "targeting" and "force."
It's meant to highlight how people falsely perceive many sexual interactions, and how those false perceptions contribute to rape culture.
The video continues to make autocorrections to various words and phrases, emphasizing how casually we really do talk about rape in ways we don't even realize.
Rebecca Kaplan, director of It's On Us, told The Huffington Post why we need to be vigilant of language when talking about rape:
At It's On Us, we believe it's important to highlight the subtle and common language that perpetuates rape culture because it's so pervasive in our society and often goes unnoticed. When we don't check ourselves and our friends who are using that type of language, we make it acceptable. This is dangerous because language can make rape culture acceptable, and even perpetuate it.
The video is only 30 seconds long, but it's pretty chilling, especially considering an American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds, according to RAINN.