Synthetic compounds and back-formed verbs: rape

From discussions of rape in recent news, the synthetic compounds slut-shaming and victim-blaming — and, no surprise, the back-formed verbs slut-shame and victim-blame.

Synthetic compounds. From Wikipedia:

Slut shaming (also hyphenated, as slut-shaming) is defined as the act of making a woman feel guilty or inferior for engaging in certain sexual behaviors that violate traditional gender expectations.

It is also used as a form of victim blaming for rape and sexual assault, such as claiming the crime was caused (either in part or in full) due the woman wearing revealing clothing or previously acting in a forward, sexual manner before not consenting to sex.

Note that this article about slut-shaming introduces the synthetic compound victim blaming in its text.

More from Wikipedia;

Victim blaming [also: victim-blaming] occurs when the victim(s) of a crime, an accident, or any type of abusive maltreatment are held entirely or partially responsible for the transgressions committed against them (regardless of whether the victim actually had any responsibility for the incident). Blaming the victim has traditionally emerged especially in racist, sexist, and classist forms. However, this attitude may exist independently from these views and even be at least half-official in some countries [especially when family honor and sexual purity are involved].

People familiar with victimology are much less likely to see the victim as responsible. Knowledge about prior relationship between victim and perpetrator increases perceptions of victim blame for rape, but not for robbery.

Recent news stories introduce another form of slut-shaming and victim-blaming, in which a girl drinks enough to pass out at a party and is then assaulted sexually by several boys; then when photos or videos of the event are circulated, the girl is ostracized by her peers, including friends. Presumably her offense is drinking too much, which makes her available to the boys. (Thanks to Neal Whitman for outlining this scenario in e-mail.)

(These topics are so distressing that it might seem dismissive to use these situations merely as a way to collect linguistic examples. For the record, let me say that I’m horrified by reflexive slut-shaming and victim-blaming in rape cases.)

Back-formations. As I’ve pointed out again and again on this blog — there are 38 postings tagged for Back formation, the most recent one on buck-rake, here – when there’s a synthetic compound, there’s likely to be a back-formed verb based on it. And so it is here; there are plenty of hits for the verbs slut-shame and victim-blame.

The hits for slut-shame are mostly transitive:

[La Belle Gigi] Long story short: Beginning when I’d just turned 12 my cousin “Tony” (22 at the time) used me for sex for about two years. When my family found out they slut-shamed me instead of prosecuting him because they didn’t want it to come out and make them look bad. (link)

[Tempra] Rape victims, at least female ones, are routinely humiliated on the stand. I was there in court [in Canada] as moral support for my friend after she was raped at 14 year old. They brought out the clothes she was wearing that day (it was a hot summer day). They slut shamed her on her past sexual history in front of everyone in court, including her parents and grandparents. It was brutal. (link)

But there are some intransitives:

Not to mention that many times women will slut-shame in one moment and go on to revel in their “sluttiness” in the next. (link)

For victim-blame, the situation is reversed. Here’s one intransitive (from a great many) and one transitive (from a smaller number):

In spite of all the evidence, there are still people who cannot believe that two football-playing ‘normal’ boys could have raped anyone. They went into denial, they made excuses, they victim-blamed and tried to convince themselves that “silence is consent.” (link)

[shanti-noe03] Shane royally fucked up and what’s worse is those sorry ass football douches talking shit about Mercedes and the fact that they victim-blamed Mercedes without realizing that she was sexual harassed and they joked about it. (link)

In that last example, we get a fortuitous find, the PSP sexual harassed [or sexual harrassed]. This isn’t an error for sexually harassed, but an instance of the back-formed verb to sexual harass (based on the modified nominalization sexual harassment). Fair number of hits, both intransitive and transitive:

It’s Not Funny To Sexual Harrass (link)

[rap lyrics] We in a seven series beama it’s me and Nickatina
Ready to sexual harrass a bitch like Martin did Gena (link)

[Addendum later in the day: Ben Zimmer writes that he’s drafting an entry for slut-shaming to appear in the summer 2013 installment of “Among the New Words’ in American Speech (the second of two installments on the 2012 Word of the Year candidates; slut-shaming was nominated in the Most Outrageous category). This lexical set is genuinely recent; Ben’s items arranged in chronological order:

slut-shaming, ppl adj 7/05
slut-shaming, vbl n 4/06
slut-shame, vt 5/07
slut-shamer, n 10/07
slut-shame, vi 2/09 ]

2 Responses to “Synthetic compounds and back-formed verbs: rape”

  1. Z Says:

    Here where I live, a lot of people “Turkish-shame” me.

  2. Carl Thiel Says:

    Thanks for posting this, Arnold. This needs to be said.

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