The verb “to rape” and how NOT TO teach English grammar

Some people’s inability to treat rape as the serious act of violence that it is, as opposed to say, a joke, has recently been quite a hot topic. Unfortunately, joking about rape and treating it like it’s really “not that big a deal” is no new thing. However, even having said that I was stunned stupid by the scandal that Polish media (to their great credit) were reporting all over the place last week: rape as a teaching opportunity. An opportunity to teach English grammar no less!

Last week a seriously upset mother called the Polish ombudsmen reporting that the grammar workbook her son is using (“English Tenses – it doesn’t get easier” by Walt Waren) teaches verb declination using examples including the word “rape.” Some of the exercises included translating into Polish:

  • Tom will rape Linda tomorrow.
  • Linda hopes to get raped before the end of the summer.
  • Linda is raped everyday.

Rape culture alert, anyone?

No only is rape a good topic to joke about, it is now also a great opportunity to teach kids how to properly use their verbs. For some weird reason authors see it as inappropriate to polish English grammar by talking about murder or evisceration. Apparently though sexual violence against women is A-OK in a textbook for kids…

And the other great thing? When journalists called the publishing house their representative said that rape is (and this is a direct translated quote) “a summer topic” and journalists should “drop the issue”. There really is no way to comment on that – apparently in the world that representative lives in rape is good ol’ summer fun and nothing for anyone to worry about. The upside to this absolutely awful story about lack of sensitivity and terrible standards is the response of the media and public officials who started an investigation within days of the book being reported. And obviously – congrats to the awesome Mom who first reported this and I just wonder what all the other readers of the book were thinking?!

About Maria:
A recovering scientist, healthcare analyst and junkie of all things gender and women's health


  1. Great piece! This is so disturbing. It’s awful that the text book included the phrase “Linda hopes to get raped before the end of the summer” since it suggests that rape is not a big deal and that women want to experience rape!

  2. That is BEYOND crazy!!!! Wow. So glad that you’re out there calling attention to this crap.

  3. Wow, just wow. What were they thinking using rape to teach grammar. “Linda is raped everyday”. Not only do they more or less condone rape, but it is in a book for kids. Absolutely mind blowing!

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