Outing A Restaurant Critic Is Not The Same As Rape. At All.


It’s bad for a high-profile anonymous restaurant critic to be “outed,” as the LA Times‘ S. Irene Virbila recently was by a restauranteur. Y’know what it’s not remotely like? Rape. Which apparently needs saying.

For the last time: things are not “like rape.” Rape is rape. Being patted down by the TSA is not rape. Being photographed by paparazzi is not rape. And having your photograph disseminated on a restaurant’s tumblr is certainly not rape. Are all these things intrusive and unpleasant and in some cases illegal? Yes. But “rape” is not shorthand for anything unpleasant. Okay?

Why the rant? Well, ask SFoodie blogger John Birdsall, who recently ran a post titled, “Outing of L.A. Times Restaurant Critic a Kind of Rape.” He condemned the outing as mean-spirited and unprofessional: fair enough. Being “outed” against one’s will is indeed problematic. But he finished, “In one way, such aggressive behavior on the part of a restaurant acknowledges better than a newspaper’s marketing department ever could that a critic’s opinion is of supreme importance. In another way ― well, it’s a form of rape.”

Well, actually, it’s nothing of the kind. As Eater succinctly put it, “To compare the invasion of someone’s privacy and self-imposed anonymity to sexual assault is a totally inappropriate metaphor. It’s offensive, demeaning, and completely trivializes the victims of a violent, traumatic, and physical crime.” Luckily, readers and commenters seem to agree.

UPDATE: The author appears to have changed the wording to “a violent assault.” Which, in a literal sense, is also confusing, but a distinct improvement.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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