The R word isn’t funny. Stop using it.

[trigger warning]

Hi there. I am “on Twitter”, and I fully admit I spend too much time “on Twitter”. Whilst it is a very good source for news and current events and whatnot (and in my case, absurd humour), it is also a simultaneously fascinating and horrifying insight into the minds of many people.

Something practised by many is to search Twitter for a string of text, and then retweet relevant tweets. This could be a phrase or typo (e.g. “fuck you dad”), often accompanied by a hashtag. The general idea is to highlight the predictability or idiocy of a group of people.

Today, Wikipedia “blacked out” in protest of  SOPA, informing millions of people of how terrible it is and why it will destroy the internet as we know it. Additionally, it raised awareness about SOPA. (This will be the only joke in this post.)

This gave rise to the hashtag #ThingsBetterThanSOPA on Twitter. That seems harmless enough right?

I felt sick.* I still do.

I really do not like SOPA. It is a shitty piece of legislation, ill-thought out and will have disastrous consequences if passed in its current and probably any form.

I am also by no means any kind of authority on sexual assault. I can’t remember any facts or statistics. I haven’t read any books or written any papers. I have not suffered it. I am extremely happy that, to my knowledge, nobody I know has suffered it. And I sure as hell hope it stays that way.

Now, consider, for a moment, someone’s body being used in ways I don’t want to think about against their consent. And apparently it is “funny” to consider that “Well, hoo boy, this sucks but I sure am glad the Stop Online Piracy Act didn’t get passed!” might be the thought that pops into their head. That they don’t need to go to counselling because they can still watch dumb dubstep remixes on YouTube. That they aren’t totally fucked up in the head because the fucking Pirate Bay still exists.

“But it’s just a jo–” STOP RIGHT THERE. It isn’t. Even if, for a far too large number of people, the word “rape” is their instant go-to catchphrase for when they can’t think of anything else. Far from the definition of wit.

I’m not just saying “stop making crap jokes about rape”. You should not even be trying to make a “good” or “witty” “joke” about it, because you cannot, because rape is not funny. It diminishes the suffering of survivors, makes it that much harder for them to be believed and taken seriously.  By “joking” about rape, you are validating the rapist’s actions. By “joking” about rape, you are effectively saying that you are glad that rape happens, and that someone has raped, and that someone has been raped, just so you can make your shitty little “joke”. This is but a small part of rape culture.

What part of the psychological trauma is “hilarious” to you?

Where is the “comedy” in the stripping of someone’s humanity?

The “humour” of being reduced to an object whose sole purpose is to fulfil the pleasure of someone who has absolutely no concern for your well-being now or later?

It’s not really that funny when you put it in these those terms, is it? That said, I have absolutely no doubt that there are those who will read this, and think “Hyuck hyuck, it totally is.” Awesome! Really edgy of you! Fantastic job! I can’t wait to hear your one liners about black people and homosexuals and Muslims and the disabled! You are totally original and nobody has ever before come up with your unique brand of “shock humour”, which provides us with an incisive perspective of society and takes these privileged minorities down a peg or two.

For those less thoughtless, I implore you to call others out on it. Don’t just ignore it for the sake of avoiding “awkwardness”. I expect that such “awkwardness” is trivial for a survivor, very possibly a sufferer of PTSD as a result, who is constantly reminded of their ordeal just so you can have a cheap laugh.

Rape is not funny.

Extended reading: I recommend this post if you want to know more. I just wanted to get this out of my system, even though my opinion on this has little value. This post was mostly written at past 3am, so it may not make a whole bunch of sense. And here’s a very concise post on why rape jokes should not be encouraged. I also strongly suggest having a browse through the “Rape Culture” section here.

*I’d like to also point out that the person was retweeting these for the same reason I’m writing this post, not because he found them “funny”.


6 thoughts on “The R word isn’t funny. Stop using it.

  1. Martin says:

    hey i like this, i like that you wrote this. good job man. it’s still something which usually goes by without being called out, and it’s a fucking shame.

  2. Me says:

    I’m trying to find a way to word this without sounding like an ass.
    I appreciate your opinion, I can see your reasoning, but until you’ve been there and been through that shit, I don’t think your opinion is necessarily valid.
    I’ve had a cunty life, two main things that have hit me and my family hard are rape and miscarriage/stillbirth.
    I make, and will continue to do so, jokes about rape and dead babies.
    Why? Because I can live my life one of two ways. I can be silent and sombre, and forever dwell upon the shit that is my life, and probably never pull myself out of the gutter because I’m too busy being hung up on the past, or I can take the piss. I make tasteless jokes, I laugh at my own misfortune.
    I can laugh or cry about it, and I sure as hell know which one helps me deal with it better.

    • I never tried to claim my opinion was valid. I’m truly sorry to hear you’ve had those experiences and I appreciate your input.

      If that is how you deal with it, then that is your choice, though I will admit it I didn’t imagine someone in your position would deal with it like you do.

      Obviously, I’ve no jurisdiction dictating how and what you should think and say. This post was aimed more at people like myself who are relatively unaffected, but thoughtlessly make jokes about the subject. As it happens, I have read accounts of survivors and I think (I can’t say for sure) they’d mostly agree with this. One helped me write this post and said it was okay to publish.

      Again, I’m really sorry if this offended you or came across as condescending, that was not the point. Thanks for your comment.

      • Me says:

        I didn’t necessarily find it offensive, it’s just that as someone who has been there and lived through that, one of the most awkward things can be turning the subject into a taboo.
        Whilst I obviously appreciate the severity of the act, and the impact it has had on my life since, in a strange way I find that telling jokes about those experiences can be a way of relieving the pressure of the experience.
        A strange comparison, perhaps, but it’s like in Harry Potter with the Boggart. Something that is your deepest fear, and something that terrifies you, can be defeated by humour (think Snape in Neville’s nan’s hat, or a roller-skating spider)
        I’ve found one of the most annoying things is people tiptoeing around the subject. It makes me feel awkward about mentioning it, when sometimes I just want to poke fun at it in order to try and trivialise it in my head, as the more trivial something is, the easier it is to overcome.

        Anyway, I’m waffling. I didn’t mean to sound like an ass, and I appreciate that for a lot of victims, jokes can seriously smack of ignorance or a lack of empathy and sympathy, but I just wanted to share the flip side 🙂

        • Ellie says:

          Hey, I know I’m a bit late to comment on here, but as a survivor as well, I get what you mean about wanting to ‘defeat it with humour’ – the thing is, though, not all survivors can deal with things that way, and I don’t think it’s fair to ignore the needs and feelings of other survivors in these matters.

          Rape jokes offend me because they make light of one of the most traumatic experiences of my life, and I’m just not in a place where I can laugh that off.

          I guess what I’m saying is that it’s absolutely fine if making light of it is your way of coping, but you can’t expect everyone else who you happen to be with to feel the same way about such a potentially traumatic subject, and so making rape jokes in public is not advisable unless you’re absolutely certain that no one in your company is going to be hurt or triggered by it.

          I also don’t think it’s ever acceptable for people who haven’t experienced it to make jokes about it.

          I’m honestly not trying to have a go at you, or to disparage your coping methods, I’m just pointing out that for many survivors, rape jokes are offensive and triggering and as such they are really not acceptable in public. (Just for the record, I’m definitely not advocating sweeping the rape issue under the carpet – I think it should be discussed, and I definitely agree with you that it shouldn’t be seen as a taboo subject – I just don’t think making jokes about it is productive.)

  3. akyama says:

    >>>By “joking” about rape, you are validating the rapist’s actions. By “joking” about rape, you are effectively saying that you are glad that rape happens, and that someone has raped, and that someone has been raped, just so you can make your shitty little “joke”.<<<

    This is not the case and you know it's not. There is a big difference between making a joke about rape and actually supporting it. And if you can't see that difference, then you probably need some glasses.

    I understand what you're trying to say, but you really shouldn't resort to arguments like this; it onlydiminishes your credibility.

Welp, tell me why I'm wrong!

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