Saturday, April 17, 2010

The thing about rape jokes.

Trigger warning: graphic description of sexual violence*after the jump.

Overheard: "What, that test today?  Oh, it totally mind-raped me."

"Yeah, no, this paper is going to rape me."

"It was like being raped in the head, like I could feel it hitting the back of my skull!"

These from your typical Nice Folks -- ladies and gents -- who are totally not homophobic/ableist/racist/sexist, what are you talking about, they're Nice Folks!  They just say 'retarded' and 'gay' because they sound so great!  It's not that they're, like, prejudiced!  Jeez man, take a chill pill!

What I always say in my head:

"[X] totally raped me!"

"No.  No it did not.  It did nothing of the kind.  Maybe it was difficult, maybe your calculator broke, maybe your hands shook, maybe you even cried, but it was Nothing.  Like.  Rape."  This is *the* comeback that comes to mind.  I have never actually said this because of the retort that is sure to follow:

"Oh, right, like you've been raped."  As if it could only affect** me were I a survivor.  What you have to admire, though -- and when I say admire, I mean loathe -- is the pure unexamined privilege that allows someone to say that.  Like it's so spectacularly un-fucking-possible that anyone in their circle is a survivor that they haven't even considered that there are TWO possible answers to their question.  Heads up, world: one in four.

So I want to know: what do you say to a rape 'joke?'  I am going to try to stuff my head with your answers so I don't have to jump the above hoops.  I know we've been going over and over this stuff (retorts and making people see why they should care) lately, so hopefully you're not sick of it.  Oh, and in this entirely unhypothetical future environment, you're the only feminist in town/surrounded by a pack of Nice Folks.

*I know we're too small to really worry about this sort of thing, but I'm not cool with posting these quotes without one.

**H, referencing your comment on my LJ back over winter break: "Circuitous thoughts on saying "gay" (etc.) as a slur: either you think it's not a big deal to anyone ever, or you acknowledge that words are actually upsetting to people sometimes. Forget "offensive," I mean viscerally, personally upsetting. (More than once, I've almost cried when someone I thought was an ally called something "gay" or said something flippant about rape. I have lower expectations for humanity at large, so from a stranger or acquaintance, it just pisses me off but doesn't send me into convulsions or anything.) If you acknowledge the latter, assuming you're not a total asshole, you want to minimize that happening, right?"
I'm not certain I will be saying 'offensive' anymore.  You're right, it blows way past that.


  1. I agree with this a lot. I think it plays into the rhetoric of "hipster racism" that Sady talks about, but in this case it has somehow become edgy to invoke "rape" as just another hyperbole, no big deal! But it is a problem because it desensitizes the meaning of the word, the meaning of the act.

  2. I haven't been able to do this without getting laughed at yet, so, a story: CASV was selling baked goods at the amazing TRANNY ROADSHOW on Wednesday. Thematic elements were covered, in the pieces the artists shared with us. Like worrying about/getting the shit beat out of you for being trans! Also, like being raped. Have I mentioned that the Coalition against Sexual Violence had our ThrivingSurvivorMannequins out, while selling cookies and raising money, for us, the Coalition against Sexual Violence? Sexual Violence, which affects EVERYONE, way too fucking much, but affects transmen and transwomen quite disproportionately, as we have been hearing for the last 3 hours? So. After the event, a young woman gives me a dollar, and while trying to take a cookie whose frosting is sticking to the container, says to her friends, "Let's see if I can do this without raping all the other cookies." I bet you can! Actually! I was fucking stunned, and the dollar felt a little like hush money. Tried to convince myself she said "breaking," but I'm not buying it.

  3. @J: response in a post! Also, UGH.

    Also, you might be in a land where people actually like Dane Cook, but here he is considered declasse. Apparently he did a bit making fun of guys who say "Oh man, [X] raped me!" when playing video games. Dane Cook's response was along the lines of, "Um, I'm pretty sure if you talk to a woman who's actually experienced that horrible event, she's not going to say it was like playing Grand Theft Auto." Or something. There was a bit on a ladyblog, though I can't remember which one--Harpyness, maybe? Anyway, point is: You know you're a douchebag when even DANE COOK thinks you're a douchebag.

    I like the use of tags here, btw.

    @Z: that's just fucking awful. That's the kind of thing I have more trouble with, actually. Like: Do you remember New Year's Eve, when we were all Geared Up for Confrontation!! and when they started talking about rape, the actual things they were saying were so casual and just so... well... STUPID. Like, totally divorced from rape as it actually exists, bringing it up just because the sound of the word "rape" is Edgy! and Automatically Hilarious! And we both looked at each other, like: To confront? Not to confront? This might be way too fucking stupid to confront, and then we didn't. But it's so hard to know where to draw the line: what's just somebody talking without thinking, and what's worth confronting? Obviously, it's highly situational, but I'm wondering if anyone else has a good strategy for deciding?