So you made a rape joke and now people are, like, really, really mad at you. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt; maybe you were at a party and the booze made your common sense slip away from you or maybe you were making what you viewed as a flippantly humorous remark on Facebook. Either way, you probably didn’t mean any harm, right? So what’s the big deal?
Okay, let me break it down for you in the gentlest way I know how. (Lorde, give me strength!)
I’m Sandra. I’m a rape survivor. I would really like you to stop making rape jokes.
I’m Hannah. I’m a rape survivor. I would really like you to stop making rape jokes.
^ I’m with those people.
I’m a rape survivor. I believe that no subject should be barred from humor. I would like for you to say whatever you want about whatever topic you like. Just know that your jokes about rape have a 98% chance of being terrible and deeply offensive. (Remember: You aren’t Louis C.K., unless of course you are…) Also know that as I appreciate your right to say whatever you want, I reserve the right to judge you as a person based on what jokes you tell.
If you have a rape joke in your head dying to come out, by all means, shout it from the rooftops. I like knowing who the assholes are so I can avoid them. I like my Nazis best when they’re clearly marked with armbands, I like my Klan members best when they’re wearing their robes, and I like my assholes best when it’s clearly visible that that’s what they are.
But not all jokes involving rape are jokes about rape. When, in the proper context, a rape joke is used by a professional comedian the joke is never on the victim. I understand that hearing the word rape is like a mousetrap in some people’s minds—that no matter the context, as soon as it’s touched it snaps—but that level of hypersensitivity is almost (but not quite) as ignorant as the insensitivity responsible for the majority of bad rape jokes in the first place. Let’s not forget the moderate positions, the shades of grey, that make up the expanse between any two extremes. Let’s please stop pretending that all of these complex ethical questions are unsubtle enough for an all-or-none, yes-or-no type of a response.
I survived rape (and, depending on the subtleties of how you define rape, multiple times at that), but I won’t let that terrible history turn me into a censorious hypersensitive jackass today.