Thursday, December 1, 2011

Repost On Rape Jokes

I know I said I would be moving on to other topics soon, and I will, but I came across an excellently written blog post through a FB friend of mine. The comments on this blog are now closed, but it is so great and has been reblogged so many times I'm sure they won't mind if I repost it here. Enjoy

To all those men who don't think the rape jokes are a problem:

I get it—you're a decent guy. I can even believe it. You've never raped anybody. You would NEVER rape anybody. You're upset that all these feminists are trying to accuse you of doing something, or connect you to doing something, that, as far as you're concerned, you've never done and would never condone.

And they've told you about triggers, and PTSD, and how one in six women is a survivor, and you get it. You do. But you can't let every time someone gets all upset get in the way of you having a good time, right? Especially when it doesn't mean anything. Rape jokes have never made YOU go out and rape someone. They never would; they never could. You just don't see how it matters.

I'm going to tell you how it does matter. And I tell you this because I genuinely believe you mean it when you say you don't want to hurt anybody, and that it's important to you to do your best to be a decent and good person, and that you don't see the harm. And I genuinely believe you when you say you would never associate with a rapist and you think rape really is a very bad thing.

Here is why I refuse to take rape jokes sitting down…

Because 6% of college-aged men, slightly over 1 in 20, will admit to raping someone in anonymous surveys, as long as the word "rape" isn't used in the description of the act—and that's the conservative estimate. Other sources double that number (pdf).

A lot of people accuse feminists of thinking that all men are rapists. That's not true. But do you know who think all men are rapists?

Rapists do.

They really do. In psychological study, the profiling, the studies, it comes out again and again.

Virtually all rapists genuinely believe that all men rape, and other men just keep it hushed up better. And more, these people who really are rapists are constantly reaffirmed in their belief about the rest of mankind being rapists like them by things like rape jokes, that dismiss and normalize the idea of rape.

If one in twenty guys (or more) is a real and true rapist, and you have any amount of social activity with other guys like yourself, then it is almost a statistical certainty that one time hanging out with friends and their friends, playing Halo with a bunch of guys online, in a WoW guild, in a pick-up game of basketball, at a bar, or elsewhere, you were talking to a rapist. Not your fault. You can't tell a rapist apart any better than anyone else can. It's not like they announce themselves.

But, here's the thing. It's very likely that in some of these interactions with these guys, at some point or another, someone told a rape joke. You, decent guy that you are, understood that they didn't mean it, and it was just a joke. And so you laughed.

Or maybe you didn't laugh. Maybe it just wasn't a very funny joke. So maybe you just didn't say anything at all.

And, decent guy who would never condone rape, who would step in and stop rape if he saw it, who understands that rape is awful and wrong and bad, when you laughed? When you were silent?

That rapist who was in the group with you, that rapist thought that you were on his side. That rapist knew that you were a rapist like him. And he felt validated, and he felt he was among his comrades.

You. The rapist's comrade.

And if that doesn't make you feel sick to your stomach, if that doesn't make you want to throw up, if that doesn't disturb you or bother you or make you feel like maybe you should at least consider not participating in that kind of humor anymore, not abiding it in your presence, not greeting it with silence...

Well, maybe you aren't as opposed to rapists as you claim. 

Note: A quick and simple rule for language and behavior if you want to be a decent person: Ask yourself, who is more likely to be made to feel comfortable around me based on whatever I'm about to say/do? Rape survivors? Or rapists? Who is more likely to be made to feel uncomfortable? If you're doing something that is more likely to make rapists feel comfortable and/or rape survivors feel uncomfortable, then don't do it!

The original writer is a "Guest Blogger", so we don't know who it is, but kudos to you anyway, whoever you are. Well said without overcomplicating it with too many words, the way I sometimes tend to do. Bravo


  1. Hi There,

    I haven't read the original blog you are referring to, so I will just make a generalized comment. I am a 'rape survivor' and have no problem with jokes about rape. I am a man. I was raped repeatedly as a child by two different men. My life is pretty fucked up, and perhaps that is why, but I don't get offended by jokes about rape/child-abuse/pedophiles etc. Humor is a great way to break down barriers and bring taboo subjects into the public arena. When I feel the need to tell someone about what happened to me, I often laugh about it. It helps alleviate tension and allows the subject to be discussed.

    As I said, I have not read the original post so my comments may be irrelevant to the situation you are discussing. I Just thought you might like another perspective.


  2. @Anonymous

    The post that I reposted is here in its entirety, and yet you seem to have missed the central issue that this blogger has with rape jokes.

    Its not really about its effect on rape survivors, although that is definitely part of it. I am extremely sorry to hear what happened to you and am very glad to hear that rape jokes are not a PTSD trigger for you, and while there are many who do not feel the same way, you could make the same argument for racist/holocaust jokes as well (here's one a jewish boy told me in high school: Why did Hitler kill himself? Because he got the gas bill. haha. Im sure some holocaust survivors wont find it funny though). Some people will get offended, others wont, but thats not the main point.

    The problem is the evidence shows that rapists often justify their behavior believing that pretty much all men rape. The problem is creating an environment in which rapists continually justify their actions by not feeling like a pariah when they trivialize rape and reaffirm the idea that its not that big of a deal. This is also demonstrated by the frat-boy mentality seen time and time again, when friends of the rapist blame the victim for coming forward or trying to cover up what happened, making it less likely for victims to speak up.

    Anyway, I didn't want to give off the impression that I don't want survivors to be able to discuss what happened to them openly and be able to get passed it as much as possible. It's just about noticing that rape is becoming ever more trivialized, and stepping in to remind everyone that its not OK, it is a big deal, it is a problem, thats all.

    Thanks for commenting

  3. My apologies. I obviously got the wrong impression from my quick review of the post. I was under the impression that you believed humor was trivializing the matter when it appears you were actually referring to people seeking affirmation for their own actions.

    BTW - love the P&T videos.