It's so simple anyone can follow it, I promise. It involves asking yourself one question.
Am I trying to be funny (edgy, witty, ironic, sarcastic, etc.)?
If you are, then your answer is no. No. NO. You are horribly abusing the term. Rape is not funny. You are not funny (or witty, or cool). Being offensive is not "cool." Contributing your ugly, unwanted, unneeded two cents to a culture that is already violence-insensitive and victim-shaming is not "cool." Triggering rape victims and reminding them of the horror they survived is not "cool." There is nothing about being an ignorant jerk that makes you cool or funny. Capice?
Now let's say you slipped up, made a rape joke, and got called out on it. Let's talk about your choices now.
a) Apologize and don't do it again. (No, don't just promise not to do it again-- actually don't. Ignorance isn't an excuse after the first time you get called out on it.)
b) Call the person who asked you not to do it "selfish" and accuse her of expecting the world to revolve around her.
c) Tell the person who asked you not to do it that it's a free country and you can do what you damn well please.
d) Say that you think they're funny and other people do too so you're going to keep making them anyway.
e) Delete the polite Facebook comment asking you to use a different analogy and then proceed to "like" every other joke about or reference to rape in the comments following the post.
You might be thinking, hm, the last four choices seem awfully specific and full of bitterness, and if so, you are quite correct. Those are all responses that I've personally received after asking someone (in person) to stop making rape jokes or (online) requesting that they delete a particular status and repost using a better analogy.
The situation described in choice (e) happened on Wednesday and really pissed me off. I have been struggling to sit with my feelings and still function like a normal person and go to class and do homework the last two days, even though inside I feel like a cold, barren tundra filled only with painful memories and numbness or a raging inferno of anger and desire-to-introduce-person-to-my-fist-or-other-forms-of-pain-equaling-what-I-feel-every-time-someone-makes-a-g*ddamn-rape-joke. It's really hard to do that for two days. And it's all because of a careless comment made by someone who thought he was being cool and edgy, and the immature response to my polite request.
I sent a message to that person that reads as follows:
Yesterday you made a status update that I found to be offensive and in poor taste. I left a comment politely asking you to use a different analogy that would not trigger or trivialize rape victims. I was not alone in the sentiment-- two of your friends clicked "like" on my request. Yet your response was to delete my comment and "like" every other comment on your post that made a rape joke or reference.
I found that to be a hurtful and immature response. If you can find something funny about pain, shame, and terror, please enlighten me, because I just don't see it. You're probably thinking "it was a joke-- no one gets raped by elephants." Please remember that even careless and casual references you might make can affect people, even if it's not the exact situation and you think you're being edgy or witty or funny. Rape is not funny. Period. This insensitivity is one of the reasons we live in a culture that trivializes rape and shames victims.
If he writes anything back, I will post part II of this saga.
The point of this post (apart from letting me rant) was to ask you to help spread the word that rape jokes are inappropriate. Not only are they seriously not funny, but they are also hurtful to people who have already gone through more trauma than anyone ever should. Please, if you hear or see someone use "rape" in anything but a serious and sensitive context to mean nonconsensual sex, call them out on it. As demonstrated in this unrelated but still very awesome video, most people who have these attitudes are ignorant and/or cowards. If they were simply ignorant, maybe they'll realize the error of their ways. If they're cowards, then maybe they'll stop if enough people confront them. Either way, a changed mind or a shut mouth would do the world good.