When Is It OK to Joke About Rape? Never!
by Rebecca Raub
Between the ages of 13-18, people enter a phase where, generally, they just want to be accepted. In hopes of achieving this, students may sometimes make fun of things they know they shouldn’t make a joke out of, just to be seen as a “savage” and gain approval from others.
Often times, other people will laugh at these jokes because they don’t want to be seen as the person who is overly sensitive and freaks out over a “simple joke”. They’ll hear “It’s just a joke!” or “Chill out!” and the person will end up being persuaded to let it go and think about it again. “Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything and it really isn’t that big of a deal.” “Whatever,” they think.
However, the cycle continues again and again and the people who make jokes about sensitive topics- that can really hurt someone- will continue to joke, not realizing that damage they’ve caused.
What does this mean though, and what am I talking about? I’m talking about, plain and simply, jokes about rape. I hope that some people are already reading this, going, “JOKES?!”, “Who would make jokes about a violent sexual act that can tear apart a victim’s life?!”.
Sadly, though, many of us in high school have experienced situations where rape was somehow a source of comedy to a group of people, so even if we ourselves have not made/ laughed at these jokes, it’s not that hard to believe that someone would.
In fact, I recently did a poll on Twitter, asking if people thought that rape jokes were funny. 64 people answered my poll, choosing yes, or no. 50 people answered no. This is very good and after interviewing some students at WHS, I found a few that agreed.
Sophomore Mckenzie Wright said very passionately, “Um no?! This is something that stays with you forever and is not something to joke about!”
Sophomore Megan Goins agreed with Wright and said, “Rape isn’t funny because it’s an awful violent act that no one should have to go through.”She continued with, “If you think rape jokes are funny you need to reevaluate your life.”
Senior Claire Raimist was at a loss for words. “How do you not know that they aren’t funny? Imagine if that was your sister, or your daughter!”
Sophomore Ian Marron agreed that they aren’t funny because, “Rape is a very bad thing.”
Sophomore Mauricio Garza said, “No, they aren’t funny because they are very offensive to some people.”
Freshman Molly Breeden felt very strongly and said, “No, because rape isn’t funny. At all!”
Now, the majority said no, but 23% of people said yes, rape jokes are funny. That is 14 people, a lot when you think about it, especially considering that some people probably falsely answered no, in order to seem better and not regret the answer that they chose.
Four of the male students at WHS that I interviewed (in person at separate times) by asking this question said outright that they were hilarious. Their names are not in this article, and their responses were all almost exactly the same. This is the thing I found ironic, though. All of the people who could say yes, flat out to my face, seemed uncomfortable when asked a question about a sensitive issue, rape. However, their demeanor quickly changed when I brought “jokes” into it, and suddenly, the issue was a huge laughing matter.
Rape is far more serious than you realize and I wish these people knew exactly what I wish I could say to them. Why is rape so touchy when presented as an issue, but you can suddenly forget how serious it is when someone makes a joke? If you are reading this and agree with them, please think about this for a while.
This is disgusting that such a tragic thing could ever be humerous. These people would probably say that they aren’t laughing at the actual event, but at a joke about it. But really, think about it. When you laugh at these jokes, you are promoting rape culture, and when you get to the bottom of it, you are laughing at the act of rape. This makes a huge, life-changing, violent and disgusting act, pretty much justifiable. If you don’t get it, ask yourself WHY it’s funny (spoiler alert, it’s not). If you don’t have an answer or say because “it just is”, you just proved that it’s not, and therefore you shouldn’t be laughing at jokes you hear about it.
I hope that after reading this article, the people who laugh at these jokes will never look at them in the same way again. Some “jokes” (even using this term is sickening) I’ve heard people say include:
- “Rape is just funny. Like imagine a woman being gang raped. What’s not funny about that?”
- “I’m seriously about to rape her because that’s the only way she’ll have sex with me.”
- “Hey, at least one person would enjoy the sex, so it’s worth it.”
After thinking of these comments I’ve already heard, I looked up some of these on the Internet. I physically felt sick after seeing how entertained people are by this. You can tell me all you want that they are laughing at the joke, not at rape, but to me it seems like many people see rape as a huge comedic act. This is SO wrong,
Now, some people may be reading this thinking that I am just overreacting and need to “take a joke”. Okay, fine. If you find these jokes funny and/or agree with the last statement, this part is especially important for you to pay attention to.
You find rape funny, huh? What if you were at home alone and you got a call that your mother, sister, or another close family member had been raped and that they were on their way home from the hospital (go ahead, think of someone you love)? You start freaking out, and rush to the door, waiting for them to come home with a tear in your eye.
Maybe, though, you still don’t understand how big of a deal this is. You see them walk through the door, the color drained from their face and barely able to walk without falling over. They are the same person, but nothing about them is the same. They look lifeless, and it’s clear that their life has been changed because someone made them feel worthless and laughed at how powerless they were. They were taken advantage of, and they will NEVER feel the same.
Over the next few weeks, they lie in bed, resisting food and crying. This is a big deal. They can’t stop replaying the scene in their head, and think about what they could’ve done differently. They start to blame it on themselves. Maybe I shouldn’t have worn that, maybe I WAS leading him/her on. They would have known before that there is no excuse for rape, but with each time they think about what happened, they start to hate THEMSELVES more and more. You just sit in your room at night, thinking, maybe I should’ve been with him/her, as you listen to the muffled cries that she/he thinks no one can hear. Slowly, they return back to health, but a part of them has been changed and been taken that will never be the same. You had no choice but to sit and watch them suffer in the aftermath, even though you tried to comfort them.
A little while later, you go to school and hear a group of guys laughing. You head over to see what’s up, and as you hear the words, your stomach twists. “Dude, girls nowadays. They basically wear clothes that say ‘rape me’ but still say it wasn’t their fault when they get raped. It’s so funny.” You instantly think of be (the) family member who got raped and feel anger and sadness boil up inside of you. A while ago, you would have laughed at the “joke”, but after what your family has been through, you find it disgusting. You walk over to them, and tell them that rape is not funny. Next, you become the source of laughter, as everyone thinks you are overreacting and too sensitive. It frustrates you to no end, knowing that they just can’t and won’t get it, but that if their family went through the pain that yours did, they would never see this the same way. You regret laughing at these jokes before.
So, I beg you, don’t encourage these jokes by laughing at them. Put yourself in this situation and think about the violence and disgustingness of rape. Rape culture is not okay, and rape is very real and can happen to anyone, of any gender or appearance. If I have not changed your mind about why rape jokes are NEVER funny, please look up stories from real life victims, and imagine the pain. You can stop normalizing rape and making it “funny” by standing up for the victims as you hear these jokes.
Everyone, especially high schoolers, needs to know this: Rape is NOT funny!!! Ever.