Yet Again – Rape Jokes Are Not Funny, Hello Rape Culture!

Trigger warning for talk of rape culture and rape jokes.

Victim blaming contributes to rape culture and removes accountability from the rapist.

Copyright Catherine Camp

Penny Arcade’s rape “joke” comic debacle from 2010 still has fingerprints across geekdom. One acquaintance of mine even shared that some of their friends were asking if feminists have “gotten over” the whole thing. Dismissive language – 1. My ire was enflamed all over again. I have no wish to rehash that debate. I only mention it as a precursor to talking about rape jokes.

It’s simple, don’t make them. Unless you’re Wanda Sykes.

Of course, folks don’t really get the simplicity of such a statement. Rape culture 1 can be difficult to pinpoint. Oh, wait, no it isn’t.

In addition to stopping with the damn rape jokes — and yes, dear cousin of mine, telling a newly-turned 18-year-old woman that they can no longer be “statutorily raped” is offensive and not funny JFC2 –, there is a current shift underway to discontinue teaching women how not to be raped (I found a disturbing wikihow article on this subject while researching. I won’t link to it, just google if you’re interested.) and instead teaching men not to rape. As per usual, there is a lot of controversy.

Time-Machine, over at Shakesville, addresses men about rape jokes (though let it be noted men are not the only ones who can, and do, rape):

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.


(Video has captions. Unable to find transcript.)


1. I am offering my services on a continuous basis to anyone who wants to contribute to Wikipedia, though doesn’t know how. I will add content for you, or I can teach you, etc.
2. Jesus Fucking Christ

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About Mx. B

My preferred pronouns are: they, their, them.
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2 Responses to Yet Again – Rape Jokes Are Not Funny, Hello Rape Culture!

  1. Very well said! I very much appreciate you posting this!

  2. Pingback: Laughter is the Best Medicine (aside from NyQuil, which is actually the best medicine) | Orange the Brave

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