To the anon commenter who left a shit ton of comments in my inbox: If you don’t understand why rape jokes are unacceptable, and if you can’t research something that basic- we have nothing to talk about. This is now my go-to post for anyone who asks about this stuff.
Rape is a singular, real and common type of malicious torture which has no purpose than to destroy, degrade and cause harm to a person and to deny them personal agency.
In some cases I consider it a worse crime than murder, because when a murder victim can get up and experience the after effects and remember and relive what happened to them and live in a society that thinks an unbelievably horrific experience they suffered to be a joke, to be deserved to all the other bullshit society says about rape victims, maybe it will be on the same par.
Rape is not a victimless, uncommon crime. When you make or laugh at a rape joke, you are laughing at the expense of a hell of a lot of men, women and children’s worst nightmare become reality. It has consequences.
If you can’t deal with people being offended at jokes that are by nature meant to be offensive, perhaps your intent wasn’t to be funny via offensiveness at all…
Summed up by those more eloquent than me:
How to tell if your joke/whatever is ok or not:
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!
How your jokes can harm and trigger:
I am reasonably certain that Coates did not intend that to be read by survivors as, “Let’s not get all emotional about how some of us like to laugh at jokes about someone disregarding your agency, bodily autonomy, dignity, and essential humanity in order to brutally assault you,” but only because I imagine he didn’t consider how (or that) it would be read by survivors at all.
We want to dispassionately discuss jokes about this incredibly personal and intense thing that happens to people, but we don’t want it cluttered with all your icky emotions about it.
You: The Rapists Comrade:
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.
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?
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.
There is no neutrality in rape jokes:
There isn’t much I can say about this, at least nothing I haven’t already said literally hundreds of times before in every conceivable way I can imagine: Rape jokes are not funny. They potentially trigger survivors, and they uphold the rape culture. They tacitly convey approval of rape to rapists, who do not appreciate “rape irony.” There is no neutral in rape culture, and jokes that diminish or normalize rape empower rapists. Rape jokes are pro-rape.
A collection of Ace tweets:
Personally, I’m no longer triggered by rape jokes. And I’m not “offended” by them; I’m contemptuous of them. B/c they are fucking gross.
And by fucking gross, I mean they diminish and normalize rape, uphold the rape culture, and empower rapists.
Rape apologists deliberately misconstrue “empower rapists” as “cause ppl to rape.” But rape culture is a continuum of hostility to consent.
A rape joke isn’t released into a void. It’s released into a culture in which 1 in 6 women and 1 in 10 men are raped.
One can’t argue “MY rape jokes don’t facilitates rape” any more than a single raindrop in an ocean could claim never to have drowned anyone.
Each one contributes to a culture of hostility to consent that tacitly condones rape and silences its survivors.
Congratulations, people who defend rape jokes and argue they’re “harmless.” You are the climate change deniers of social justice.
Be prepared for contempt if you ask me to play abstract thought experiments about rape. I am a survivor. That shit ain’t abstract to me.
If rape jokes are so insignificant, then why are so many people so intent on defending them? #thatsrhetorical
“Safe space” & “space w/o rape incitement” aren’t the same thing. Latter is a reasonable expectation of any space.
Re: the argument ppl shouldn’t react to rape jokes @ comedy clubs: Lots of survivors have PTSD. *Whether* to react is not always an option.
That was not the case re: Tosh, but the argument that people should choose not to react to triggering material misunderstands triggers.
Being triggered isn’t getting your fee-fees hurt. It is a physical reaction that is outwith one’s control.
An argument that no one, ever, should react out loud to unexpected rape content elides that many survivors react in ways they can’t control.
And if comics are unhappy that someone might get triggered by a rape set, they can take that up with rapists, not survivors.
No, I am not advocating censorship. I’m advocating people giving the bare minimum fuck about other human beings. Christ.
I mean, if telling rape jokes is more important to you than not triggering survivors of rape, you’re really just kind of a dirtbag.
Free speech. Censorship. Art. Whatever. It’s bullshit. Telling rape jokes is a choice that deprioritizes survivors & their safety.
If you don’t care about survivors, fine. But be honest about it. Don’t make bullshit arguments about artistic freedom.
I write tens of thousands of words every week, and I’m not compromising anything by not making rape jokes. It’s a choice.[Rape jokes] physically hurt people, and they communicate tacit approval to rapists. They are not neutral humor.
If you argue not telling rape jokes compromises your artistic integrity, I have news for you: You don’t have any integrity. Artistic or otherwise.
Exhibit A of Rape Culture: Female critics of Tosh are getting “hope you get raped” responses. Male critics, not so much.
And guess what, knuckleheads? I’ve already been raped. AND I’M STILL FUCKING HERE. So your rape wishes are as pointless as they are cruel.
Rape jokes uphold rape culture, while rape culture jokes seek to examine, challenge, dismantle it.
And even still, I understand and respect that some survivors do not and cannot find any rape-related humor funny.
I don’t think that makes them “oversensitive.” I think that means they’ve got a different sensitivity than I do.
You know, not for nothing, but I didn’t think rape jokes were particularly funny before I was raped, either.
More recommended reading
You: The rapists comrade. (Helpful hints for dudes pt.3)
But mainly, just fucking google it because it’s something people have been talking about almost literally forever. Or you can go to a library. Seriously. I’m out. I’m sorry (but not really sorry) if my bluntness offends, but it’s not my job to hold your hand and teach you the 101s of decency, basic empathy, and personal accountability / consequences.