Saturday, August 14, 2010

Rape jokes

I know there is an abundance of feminist blogs addressing this issue, but I couldn't resist putting my two cents in.

Rape jokes can be funny. Example,817/

The question often brought up is "why can we joke about death and not rape"

It is interesting to deconstruct. Perhaps it is because death happens to everyone. It isn't insulting one group of people. Perhaps also the fact that real rape is often a target for joke comes into play as well.

However there are obviously bans on certain type of jokes. Torture jokes don't seem to be common.

The joke is "rape is just surprise sex!" not "torture is just surprise bdsm!"

It just doesn't have the same oomph because people recognise torture for what it is; wrong.

However in a culture where rape is often considered to be rough sex, it hits a little too close too home when people minimise it by referring to it as sex. This misconception damages rape victims, women and society. Why perpetuate the myth?


  1. Also, sex is universally seen as the proper order, whereas BDSM is generally considered a deviation performed by screwed up people. The culture is built around sex as a normal thing, and rape is forgiven as part of general cultural attitudes toward sex. Torture, especially of men, is understood to be bad, but BDSM is not accepted as proper order, so there is no direct analogue to "rape is just surprise sex". I make a distinction between rape as "rough sex" and BDSM because BDSM emphasizes consent. Aside from that quibble, I agree with this post.

  2. I was never trying to imply that bdsm is like rape. I practise bdsm myself and fully understand that it is neither wrong nor criminal.

    My implication was to take something that is moral (sex or kink) and turn it into rape or torture.

  3. Upon re-reading your comment I was intrigued by your assertion. I think bdsm is definitely accepted as proper order (some parts at least). What is more normal then power play?

  4. Sorry for being unclear. I wasn't quite sure what your feelings were in regards to BDSM other than the mention of it seemed vaguely positive, and I was trying not to step on any toes. I'm coming from a reasonably pro-BDSM perspective. I wasn't trying to say you were saying BDSM was like rape, and your second comment is more accurate.

    I would say that in general BDSM is not accepted in mainstream culture. There are a few practices, like spanking, that the mainstream culture accepts, but this only goes to a certain point. When you get to more extreme examples of BDSM, like pet play, non-BDSM people consider it outlandish and make serious comparisons to rape and brainwashing. The media tends to depict dominants as psychopaths. The thing about BDSM, though, is that people who do it recognize it's dangerous and impose standards of consent like negotiation beforehand and the use of a safeword. That's what I meant about making a distinction between BDSM and rape as "rough sex". Again, sorry for being unclear, and I hope this clears up what I meant. Also, sorry for kinda derailing.

    BTW, you might find this interesting:

  5. "that's what I meant about making a distinction between bdsm and rape as rough sex"

    Sorry, I am still not really understanding what you are saying. I never said bdsm was like rape or rough sex.

    I think actually bdsm is in our culture more then you would think.

    Definitely I agree the media portray kinky people as mentally ill as a general rule. However that tends to be on the extreme side of the kinkiness scale. Things like bondage are fairly accepted and commonplace.

  6. " I make a distinction between rape as "rough sex" and BDSM because BDSM emphasizes consent."

    Can you perhaps re-read what I said? The reason why it works is because sex has consent and bdsm has consent while rape and torture obviously do not.

  7. Joking about torture is actually not uncommon and considered "okay" by military and police, but usually only when it is directed towards "the enemy." In our current "war" in Iraq, there are many jokes around the torture of Muslims, Iraqis, etc.
    The common element it shares with rape jokes is the diminishing of "the other" by joking at their pain, thereby making it okay to create harm with those lesser beings.

    Parallels anyone?

  8. Interesting social worker!

    Sound disgusting. *shudder*

  9. "It just doesn't have the same oomph because people recognise torture for what it is; wrong."

    Are you suggesting that rape isn't wrong? These sorts of jokes make rape seem to be more accepted in society. As a rape victim, I've found that when I've told people about it, they look confused and think I'm reffering to dominance & submission in consentual sex until I explain to them the context. This shouldn't have to be the case, if a woman says she was raped, it shouldn't have to be explained to make it clear. Fact of the matter is that rape is wrong, and ruins the lives of many people. Joking about it doesn't help the issue, it just makes it more acceptable.

  10. @anonymous

    I think you need to read the rest of my blog...

    I think rape is wrong, I condemn it.

    I am quite a sarcastic person, so maybe you missed that tone in my post

  11. I definitely call people out on it when they make anti-woman or rape jokes. I was curious about it once so I kept track and over 80% of the jokes I heard in a day had a sexist, mostly anti-woman, message. Joking about it is a way to maintain control of the situation. If you can't get people desensitized to rape, if people really understood how horrible the crime really was, then no one could get away with it. It's a chicken and egg situation, but either the jokes perpetuate the notion that rape isn't serious or it's a reflection on our society and how they just don't care.

  12. I disagree wholeheartedly. Jokes in general and rape jokes in particular can be effective in drawing attention to the issues of rape and how bad it is. For example (sorry I forget the name of the comedian) a woman made a joke about a detachable pussy. Sorry you can't rape me I left my pussy at home. In the same way it works that sorry you can't rob me I didn't bring my valubles. It is very effective in conveying the horrors of rape through humour.