Rape Is Not a Joke

If you read that title and thought “OF COURSE RAPE IS NOT A JOKE”, good.  I am glad.  You and I appear to be on the same page.  But if you read that title and thought “OF COURSE RAPE IS NOT A JOKE” but you laugh at rape jokes or you make comments like “That bitch deserves to be raped”, then this post is for you.

Because you may realize that the act of rape in and of itself is not a joke, but if you are making rape jokes, or standing by and letting your friends make rape jokes, there are a few things I want you to start thinking about, before you open your mouth, before you laugh at that comment, before you use the word “rape” lightly.

From Feminist Disney (feministdisney.tumblr.com)

People like to say that rape jokes are “harmless”.  And if that is what you believe, I am here to tell you that they are NOT.  First of all, society uses humor as a tool to reinforce oppression all the time, because through humor one group is able to write off the experiences and struggles of another group as unimportant or unworthy of legitimate concern; humor is all too often utilized to belittle or dismiss those who are disadvantaged within society.  But second, and more relevantly, in a society in which 1 in 5 women is a survivor of rape and 1 in 3 a survivor of sexual assault-~-and 1 in 6 men is a survivor of sexual assault-~-there is a pretty decent chance that someone in the vicinity who is hearing this rape joke or even being told this rape joke is in fact a survivor of sexual assault.  And you have NO idea what this callous, casual mention of sexual violence is going to do to that survivor (not to mention it COMPLETELY disrespects the ordeal they have been through).

If this were not enough reason to stop making rape jokes and to call people out when we hear them making rape jokes, here is another reason: feminists may know that not all men are rapists, but rapists don’t.  Psychological studies have shown that most rapists believe that ALL men rape, but that some are just better at not getting caught.  And these people are reaffirmed in their belief that other men are closet rapists by things like rape jokes, which normalize rape.  When encountering a rape joke, the rapist believes that the people who make and find humor in rape jokes are on their side, that they are on the same page. (This was pulled from another blog post, which can be found here).

Statistically, one in twenty guys is a rapist.  Try to remember, most rape is date rape.  Many guys who commit acts that would be considered sexual assault do not themselves consider those actions to be sexual assault; they may not even realize they have raped someone.  But the truth is that with statistics like that, odds are at some point when you made a rape joke or laughed at a rape joke someone else made, there was a perpetrator somewhere in the vicinity, and he took this humor as affirmation that his actions were okay.

In case this was unclear, his actions were not okay.  And you, decent person that you are, would never condone them if you knew about them.  So don’t play into this rape humor and send the message that rape is in any circumstance funny or at all acceptable.  We all know this is not true.

There is one more reason why we all need to stop making and tolerating rape jokes, and it is perhaps the most obvious, and therefore one of the most overlooked: rape jokes help to normalize rape and contribute to the normalization of rape

From “Feminist-tips”, feminist-tips.tumblr.com

culture in our society.  So if you believe that rape culture is problematic, if you believe that we should NOT live in a society that allows for excessive levels of sexual violence, then it is time to stop laughing about that which we know is not funny.  Rape jokes dismiss rape as mockable and allow people to disregard the seriousness of the crime in question.  And when we set this aside as fodder for humor, we let society turn its back on victims and survivors; we let rape continue to be the most underreported crime in the country; we let people suffer because we have dismissed their suffering as unimportant.

So let me ask you, are those the norms you want to uphold?

If not, then the rape jokes need to stop.  And when you hear them, call people out.  Stop telling men that rape is okay, it’s normal, it’s nothing to worry about; and stop telling survivors that what they went through was amusing or unimportant.  It is important.  In some cases, it can be everything.  And in some cases, it may not be.  But either way, don’t be another cog in the machine we know as rape culture, which normalizes this kind of violence.

Rape is not a joke.  And it’s time we all stopped laughing.

Other blog posts and articles on this subject:

“An Addendum, On Rape Jokes” http://noseriouslywhatabouttehmenz.wordpress.com/2011/08/01/an-addendum-on-rape-jokes/

“The Rise of the Rape Joke”-~-The Guardian (UK) http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/sep/10/rape-jokes-in-comedy

“Defining Rape Culture”-~-an academic article from UC Davis http://www.students.haverford.edu/masar/documents/RapeCulture.pdf

 

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~ by Randi Saunders on May 17, 2012.

3 Responses to “Rape Is Not a Joke”

  1. […] group as unimportant, insignificant, worthy of mockery.  I discuss this a bit in my post “Rape is Not a Joke”, but will continue that discussion here.  Humor is a way in which the dominant group reminds the […]

  2. […] Rape Is Not A Joke […]

  3. no murder jokes either. Make the world safe.

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