The Language of Sexual Assault

A provocative way to understand evolving attitudes towards sexual violence is through the vicissitudes of the language people use to talk about it. This exhibit maps the frequency over time of key descriptive words and phrases pertaining to sexual violence, in The Cavalier Daily student newspaper. The changing occurrence of terms such as "survivor," "scandal," and even "rape" is often surprising and strongly suggestive of trends in thinking about sexual crimes, which tend ever more towards a humanistic focus upon their objects and an empirical focus on classification.