Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Columbia MO, Des Moines, Fredericksburgh VA, Jacksonville NC, Los Angeles, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Palo Alto, Portland ME, Richmond VA, Rutgers University, San Francisco
Yesterday, the German Society of the German Language‘s award for the “Unwort des Jahres” 2012 ( = “Most Outrageous Word of the year”) went to the term “Opfer-Abo”. This term literally means “victim subscription”, in this context meaning that someone can be sure to always be perceived as a victim, no matter what this person does.
The word was coined and used in several interviews by the popular weather presenter and journalist Joerg Kachelmann, who had been accused of rape by his ex-partner in 2011 and found not guilty. In one of his interviews Kachelmann explained that women benefit from an “Opfer-Abo”: “Women are always perceived as victims, even if they were the actual perpetrators”.
The Society of the German Language says the term was inacceptable as it implies that it is a widely spread problem that women who report sexual violence are making the case up. As a reaction to the nomination of his term Kachelmann tweeted: “Unfortunately, sometimes the truth is not politically correct”.
Well, in fact it is both true and unfortunate that much too often women who report sexual violence are not believed. As reported by the Independent on 10 January, new research carried out by the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office and the Office for National Statistics show that the majority of cases of sexual violence are never reported in the first place, for exactly the reason that victims fear that they will not be believed or that they will be blamed for the assault.
What we need to do is “shift the rape ‘blame culture’ from victims to offenders” (Javed Khan, Chief Executive of Victim Support in the Independent) – we certainly don’t need a popular TV presenter reinforcing the idea that victims of sexual violence most certainly are evil women making up an easy story to take revenge of a nice guy.
Thanks, courageous linguists of the Society of the German Language for standing up against the culture of victim blaming!
Author comments are in a darker gray color for you to easily identify the posts author in the comments