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Rape metaphors in financial discourse

I think that people who have actually been raped do not take kindly to the use of rape metaphors for financial transactions (for example). I think they are right (and even though I've used the metaphor in the past; too lazy to find links).

I think also think that rape is not, as a trope, sufficiently isomorphic to the system it purports to represent, which is another reason to avoid using it. It's all very well to stir up rage, but people with big budgets have entire corporate divisions devoted to strategic hate management (as the current election makes clear). Stirring up thought, however, is within our purview, and outside their scope. So, words matter, and metaphors matter.

No, I don't know what the appropriate metaphor is, but it's probably more along the lines of broad-spectrum trafficking.

I also think there is a grand metaphor for the entire system to be had* -- if you are a materialist or Gaian as I am, then capital must pass through the actual living human flesh in which persons reside -- and no I don't have it, though I think about it a lot. For reasons stated, rape is not that metaphor. We need to clear the ground of bad metaphors to think clearly: "Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language" (Ludwig Wittgenstein).

NOTE * That is, Marx [gasp] got this right for capitalism:


and this right for finance capitalism:


What I am, er, philosophizing about is this part of the dynamic:


Capital passes through human flesh in Marx's dashed area (see, e.g., Eph 6:12). That's why "rape," as a folk philosophy, seems appropriate. But as I argue above, it's not.

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propertius's picture
Submitted by propertius on

The original meaning of "rape" is to seize, plunder, or carry off by force (from the Latin "rapere"). It seems to me that "plundering" is exactly what we're talking about.

Submitted by lambert on

"It takes some pillage to raise a bankster." [rimshot. laughter]

That said, while the outcome is that that of a pillaging operation, the system is not, or is at least not yet. That's why I say that the metaphor is not an objective correlative for the system it purports to represent.

Submitted by Carolannie on

Regardless of the origin of the word, it is not used that way anymore. Plundering would be more apt and less sexually charged, and in modern language, more accurate.

Just as a quick note, gay used to mean, you know, a happy person with sparkling personality, or a good time. Now it means homosexual, and people would hesitate to use it in its former meaning. Etc.

Submitted by hipparchia on

I think that people who have actually been raped do not take kindly to the use of rape metaphors for financial transactions

there are actually quite a number of people who have never been raped but still object to rape as metaphor for things that are unrelated to rape. i appreciate your evolution on this.

carolannie has it, whatever the meaning of "rape" many eons ago, it's basically got one meaning now. interesting that rapacious hasn't yet undergone that transition.

from your link:

You need to take the rape theft/thievery/robbery/rapacity/pilferage/stickup/rip-off/mugging/skimming/shakedown out of banking by eliminating usurious interest controlled by the Xtrevilist few and giving control of the money supply to the people.

there are any number of metaphors in there.

Submitted by lambert on

... adequate to the object? I don't think so. They are not "sufficiently isomorphic to the system [they purport] to represent." In another context, we might call them, if we disregard the subject matter, "childish." That's the problem with "government is like a household," and "government should be run like a business." Neither is adequate to the object, government.

I'm sure there's a trope theorist out there who has better words -- perhaps even a technical vocabulary -- for what I'm trying to get at but this is the best I can do.

I think something along the lines of "invasive" would capture what I am working for; much more isomorphic and yet still powerfully charged with emotion. (Taibbi's "vampire squid" is in the same semantic field.)

Submitted by hipparchia on

ot1h, it does make sense to think of any deed that causes harm to another being as invasive. which may explain part of the reason that people use rape as a metaphor for anything harmful.

otoh, however great the harm and widespread the damage they cause, banksters are still operating at a greater remove than are rapists. which is one of the reasons i find rape inappropriate as a metaphor for banksterism.

Submitted by lambert on

... through M-C-M', yes, they are.

Reread the posts... Although it's not so much a deed. It's more like a dataflow. Invasive like a plant or a microbe is invasive. "Invasive species."

nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

It is a deep foundational trope of the patriarchy that a woman is an object whose value lies in her exclusive sexual availability to a legitimate male patriarch. Becoming the legal wife makes a woman "honest". A man who sells his integrity is a "whore" or "prostitute", which emphasizes his lack of integrity and therefore his loss of manhood. A woman who is "raped" has her value pillaged.

A lot of socialization involves socially appropriate sexual identity and feelings. It's especially important to conservatives to eroticise power relations.

Because of this foundation, I don't think you're going to be able to find another term that carries the full meaning you're looking for. This is, after all, already the grand metaphor, already on the field. It may be worth using less meaningful language or limiting the field of concern to avoid further hurting rape sufferers, but avoiding subjects doesn't always make them go away.

Submitted by lambert on

First, if we can't, all is lost, so let's assume we can and go forward.

Second, I can think of at least one emotion, "the sublime," that didn't even exist before the romantic era. So new emotions can arise.

See this new post here which expands, badly, on some of these ideas.

nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

I think Longinus in the 1st century AD had some concept of the sublime, enough at least to write a treatise on it that was known and studied throughout western education. It simply didn't resonate with the culture until the rise of an ethic and aesthetics of emotion in the very late 18th c., when the Romantics adopted Longinus' term.

Sorry, I'm just easily enough distracted to wander off after any little piece of trivia.