Rape. The first thing that comes to mind is not humour. Nor a desire to, in some repugnant and machismo way, come up with a joke just because I can.
Rape. Standing alone with a full-stop is not an invitation to joke.
Rape is rape. Let’s talk.
I have become disgusted by a general lack of appreciation on the sensitivity of this subject and indeed the word itself. Upon what basis is it by any definition acceptable to find something like this humorous? I can immediately hear the stirrings of ignorance thinking up responses relating to freedom of speech, or worse, to the idea that it’s ok just to joke. I can hear people start to buff up their chests ready to make what they think is a valid argument about political correctness gone mad. All of them men.
How could anyone justify using rape as a humorous premise? I can appreciate that yes, most humour is at the expense of others. But then there’s this touchy issue of taste, which then links to a conception of freedom of speech. I think it’s funny and I’m a devout feminist believing in striving for equality between men and women- sorry, you’re not. That’s like saying I can joke about the Holocaust because I’m Jewish – no, you can’t. Ultimately, taking things too far means knowingly or unknowingly joking about an issue which at its very core is not only not amusing, but rather is deeply disturbing, perverse, abhorrent and relates to questioning the equal rights and identity of a particular demographic directly, or indirectly. It’s not rocket science. Come on.
Then there are those who say ‘it’s the impact that’s funny, rather than the content’- this attempts to avoid the issue of what is grossly inconsiderate in the attempt to make something funny. The logic doesn’t work. Using rape to shock people into laughing is almost more perverse than the idea rape itself. I don’t care what makes people laugh- as long as a word is used which feeds on the discrimination of any identity-based group, it is abhorrent and shouldn’t be tolerated. In this context, it only contributes to the idea of the permissiveness of rape culture which normalises, excuses, or tolerates sexual violence.
It’s about decency, it’s about respect, and it’s about growing up. It’s about acknowledging that yes there is freedom of speech, but it does not give you the authority to knowingly bring up a discomforting issue which, quite frankly, you are likely to know nothing about.
The reason why rape jokes are wrong is the same as to why racist, xenophobic, sexist, and homophobic jokes are distasteful and have no place on our campus or in our society. You assume they are funny because you think that being raped is something that can be tossed aside after it has happened, or more generally, that the right over your body is something that can be laughed about. That is, after all, what rape amounts to- losing the right over your body and being sexually abused. Hilarious, isn’t it?
‘Oh come on, it’s just a joke, get over it!’ I’ve seen you write. Sorry, but I trust women who say that you don’t understand what it’s like to be raped or to feel at threat of being raped. When such a worrying action which can lead to horrendous consequences is trivialised to the extent that you can joke about it only means that you have no respect for the sanctity of a woman having ownership over her body. It is disgusting and disgraceful to allude to the idea that something as serious as being physically abused in such a way that your dignity stolen, only to fulfil someone else’s false construction of their own can be taken lightly.
It has to be said that this feeds into feminism, something I am proud to say I wholeheartedly subscribe to. It is unhelpful for supposedly humorous comments about rape to come out of what should be an institution which prides itself in striving to be the pinnacle of innovation, tolerance, and progressiveness, because these only lead me to think that those who will be at the helm of society in various sectors in the coming decade, including Warwick alumni, will still think it’s ok to make fun of the thought of a woman losing the right to her dignity.
On another note, last year I conducted research into hate crime and sexual assaults on campus. In the pool of around 500 women surveyed, one in eighteen said they had been sexually abused or assaulted, and one in ten had said they had been sexually harassed, verbally, whilst at university. On a national scale, one in seven female students nationally has been sexually assaulted. Hilarious, isn’t it?
As long as you don’t respect the thought of what has been described as the most soul destroying thing that could happen to someone, you remain sexist.
As long as you perceive the thought of objectifying women to the extent that it’s ok for men to use their bodies by force for their own sexual desires, you remain opposed to gender equality.
As long as you think that attacking women out of a false sense of pride and desire to dominate is something that can be laughed off, you remain bigoted.
Whenever you make a ‘joke’ about rape, this is what you’re actually saying.
This is something that cannot and will not continue. You’re at university, you can have an excuse to change your mind now about how you view women and the thought of them being sexually abused. It’s ok, you can say that you’re wrong. Better late than never.
Just grow up. You’re not funny. It’s never ‘just a joke’.