Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rape Jokes, Part 3 -- Confronting People

I am mentally and emotionally burnt out from the last two days. It has been a constant cycle between trigger-induced numbness and seething anger that I have had to control enough to do three problem sets for school. While I was waiting for my organic chemistry lecture to start this evening, I thought I would turn my exhausting ordeal into something productive. So, since my recent experiences have told me that some people need help with this, welcome to:

How to tell if you are using the word "rape" appropriately in everyday discourse (A Guide For Dummies)

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:

Dear X,

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.


  1. Reading this totally raped me. You cannot go through life being so sensitive. The ignorant and cowardice are going to destroy you. People, moreover - professional comedians - make jokes about much worse atrocities. People make light of sad occurrences. Be more resilient. I'm not justifying it, but there are far graver things to concern yourself with rather than jokes. How about utilizing your time and your mind to do some good, rather than to rant. Take my anon post for what it is.

  2. Dear Anonymous,

    1) Your first sentence was completely unnecessary and takes away from the validity of the rest of your post. Just saying.

    2) I agree that people make jokes about worse atrocities. It doesn't mean it's right.

    3) Should I be more resilient? Sure. If I could control my post-traumatic stress disorder, don't you think I would? Do you think I sit around and feel upset while unwanted memories come back because I like it?

    4) My "rant," as you called it, had two purposes: a) to help me get out of my own trigger-induced state, and b) to speak for other people who are hurt by rape jokes but are too intimidated to say so. I think speaking up for people does count as doing something good.


  3. Write about interesting things. I can see that for some people to violence and sexual violence has left a bright trace. Sorry for my english, I'm from Russia. The girl who writes a blog, wrote a very interesting she deeply feels the pain of other people, very genuine girl, very vulnerable ....
    And it is a big lad ..

  4. Dear Anonymous----

    Your comment was totally unnecessary (and yes, ignorant----but you're not going to listen to me so there's really no purpose in my pointing it out).

    Fuck you.


  5. The girl certainly right. But I think she feels very keenly any violence, especially against women. It is your professional sphere? I think you apart from violence, women do not see anything (maybe I'm wrong). There is love there is happiness? I think that you are smart and educated girl feel only resentment and hatred of many men (again, maybe I'm wrong). The problem must be considered from all sides, you look at it very monotonous.
    Have you ever loved? I do not want to offend you. I see that you are very sensitive to every word ...
    Sorry if I offended you than that

  6. oh my god lighten up, i dont believe you would spend that much time writing about this, I despise rapists and their ilk and would never commit such an atrocity myself. when I use the term in jest it is funny, do you know why: its because I am talking about it imaginatively, in the sense that I am making up this scenario in my mind that is potentially witty and it is completely make believe, when I hear about real incidents however, i am completely disgusted and if i was to witness such an act, i would be the first to try and prevent it

  7. That's the thing-- you think it is imaginary, something that would never happen. You think it is witty. But these things do happen, and it really isn't funny to people it happens to.

    It's easy for you to say that you hate rapists and would try to stop it. But it takes a lot more effort and maturity to take a step further and be sympathetic to rape victims who have gone through it.