I can’t claim to be wholly morally good. After all, nobody is perfect, and we all make pretty dumb mistakes in one way or another. The following rant is not me saying “I’m better than you.”, and it’s not about being on some kind of moral high-horse. This rant is about human decency, or lack thereof.
Earlier this evening, I was browsing through my Facebook stream when a post by my friend Veronica came up. Before I dive into the details, though, I would like to point one thing out that gives this whole thing context: Veronica is a rape survivor. She has to deal with all the attached social nuances of trying to move on with her life, and while she has made much progress, naturally this isn’t just some trivial thing that a person “gets over”.
When something such as rape happens to a person, that person has to deal with constant reminders of what happened to them. They have had someone take their innermost form of privacy from them, not as a product of simple sexual desire, but as a form of degradation and control by the usurper. It is an attempt to victimize someone else and put them in a state of perceived weakness.
The problem is, a lot of people I know don’t seem to grasp this very well. A lot of them could see rape as “the entrance of an unwanted penis into someone else’s body”, but it completely trivializes what the fracture of forced intimacy actually does to a person. This has been made to be so utterly trivial in our society that people thoughtlessly tell rape jokes.
Let me reiterate: we live in a world where people are so desensitized to the fact that a human being has suffered from the trauma of rape that not only is it trivialized, it is openly joked about and laughed at by people.
Getting back to the point, though. As I stumbled upon Veronica’s post, it detailed her frustration at someone for openly renouncing rape as a principle, and then hypocritically turning around and telling a rape joke. To her, of all people. I later had learned that it was her brother making this joke, of all people.
Then, out of nowhere, someone sprang up to defend rape jokes under the brand of “Offensive Humor”.
“Making rape jokes does NOT mean you are ‘pro-rape,’”, she began, “just like laughing at down syndrome jokes doesn’t make you pro ds, and making dead baby jokes doesn’t mean you like dead babies.”
Perhaps making jokes about those things don’t mean you’re “Pro” something, but it is offensive on the basis that it’s ignorant and pokes fun at the reality of things such as rape, gender, sexuality, race, etc. It’s simply insensitive and trivializes the struggle that other people that aren’t you go through day after day, not to mention that it completely ignores the fact that it isn’t funny if it happens to you, or similarly, it’s also unfunny (not to mention degrading) if you belong to the demographic that the original joke is about.
Secondly: rape, dead baby jokes, and Down’s Syndrome are all very different things, and it’s strange to see someone try and make parallels between:
- dead baby jokes (seemingly funny until you actually meet an infant you care about and realize it’s not funny anymore)
- rape (a form of control used in the manner as a violation of personal space through stolen intimacy)
- making fun of people with Down’s Syndrome. (to which I reply, there’s no reason for that. Down’s Syndrome is a state of being, making fun of it by marginalizing a person’s entire existence for something they absolutely cannot help is an incredibly cruel thing to do. I’m sure the parents of many Downs children would not appreciate your bullshit.)
My point is that there is clearly an obvious difference between telling a joke that may offend people, and being blatantly insensitive to the point of making a person feel shitty. When you make a person feel shitty for being raped by joking about it, you are perpetuating rape culture. End of discussion.
It’s not about being politically correct, it’s about not catering to the lowest common denominator, as well as the clearly Freudian undertones of attaching humor (making the joke) to the sexual violation of a persons psyche, personal space, and sense of identity. (rape).
You can be perfectly funny without being fundamentally offensive, it just takes more work than the easy-way out of taking a victim of some social injustice and turning it into a joke for others to point and laugh at. I’m not even asking you to be politically correct, just be a decent human being and take other people’s feelings into consideration before you say something that holds that much gravity over them.
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- salt-sweat-sugar said: I really appreciate the thought put into this, and especially your description of what exactly the act of rape is. It is not just a physical violation, and I am very happy with your perspective. I am a rape survivor, twice. Thank you. :)
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