During a presentation at a company event last week, Tmobile CEO John Legere compared the prices of AT&T and Verizon to rape, saying, “these high and might duopolists that are raping you for every penny you have.” Although Legere apologized for the remarks, it brings up the issue of using the word “rape” casually.
There are certain words with a loaded context, and it’s best not to use them in a casual sense. One of these words is “rape.” It means something very different to victims of sexual assault -- and it’s something Legere should have considered before using it in a company speech.
We work with Verizon Wireless, who focuses on domestic violence prevention and have been our sponsors for in-school efforts and Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month (or teenDVmonth) since 2011. Verizon also has the HopeLine program where they collect wireless phones and accessories and turns them into support for dating abuse and domestic violence organizations nationwide. They’ve donated hundreds of thousands of phones so that victims have a way to contact emergency and support services in times of crisis and stay connected to family, friends and employers.
Verizon’s commitment to helping those affected by domestic violence supports the work we do in schools preventing abuse, with intervention programs that assist young people in obtaining protection orders and advocating for policy changes to protect survivors. We hope one day our society will view “rape” as a word that’s never used outside the context of sexual assault.
Rape is sexual assault, not a verb that CEO’s may use to compare prices of cellphone plans.