By Little Baby Nothing
TRIGGER WARNING FOR RAPE
“Statistically, nine out of ten participants enjoy a gang rape.” This was, and remains, one of the most “liked” jokes of all time on a specialist sick jokes website. There is something really unfunny about this. This goes beyond just “not funny.” Knock-knock type jokes are typically not funny, but they are harmless. Rape jokes, on the other hand, are both unfunny and very dangerous. Whilst I don’t support and can’t support the active censorship of such material, I would like to speak briefly about why such jokes are so offensive, and argue why men must avoid telling them.
As part of my profession I have worked in the prison service and have worked with sex offenders. One observation I have made is that the offender can’t bring themselves to acknowledge directly what they have done. One of the most telling comments was from an individual who came to the conclusion that when he was offending, “He was really just raping himself.” His conclusion is, to be frank, complete bullshit. And it’s this bullshit that I wish to attack in this article. The reality is that the rapist, this individual in question and many others, was raping a woman. He was raping a girlfriend. A wife. He was raping a niece, a sister, a cousin. He was raping a daughter. He was raping a mother. He was raping a woman, nothing more, nothing less.
So what does a rape joke mean? What attitude does it express, what meaning does it carry? On a superficial level, it suggests that rape is funny, which it most certainly is not. Even the most outrageous “jokers” would back down when presented with that conclusion. So, what else is going on when people make rape jokes? I would argue that by joking about something it plants the seeds for denial of responsibility. When it is presented as a joke, suddenly the victim becomes less real, less human. Because it’s “a laugh” the reality of the situation is denied and mentally obfuscated. And with something as serious and prevalent in society as rape such mental denial as this must never be allowed to happen. This is what makes rape jokes so unfunny. They allow a mental denial which, if taken to its logical conclusion, persists in the mind of the rapist. I am not suggesting for a moment that everyone who jokes about rape will go on to become a rapist. But the issue is that some people will, and by laughing and joking about this subject you are not tackling the issue. Rape is never “funny” and therefore jokes about it are never funny. Rape is real and rape is obscene. If you are confronted with a rape joke, think of your daughter, your mother and your sister as the subject of that joke. Do you still find it amusing?