I fancy myself a comedian (mostly on Twitter, sometimes in real life, other times writing on other internet websites) and rape jokes are always a hot topic.
Before I get into why you shouldn’t make jokes about rape, a summary: don’t. Don’t do that.
Some background. Not long back, when I had no money and less ambition, I worked as a dishwasher at a restaurant. I was broke to the point where I had to ride a bike about a half hour to and from work every shift. This was good for my heart, bad for my inherent laziness.
Since restaurant works starts in the afternoon and ends in the late evening, this meant riding the crappy $80 orange bike I got off Craigslist during late hours. Now, for me, this was not a big deal. Some nights, it was very cool, what with the moon and such.
But the female waitstaff were moderately horrified I did this. “Aren’t you scared someone will rape you [note: they were a salty crew]?”
No. Why would I be? I am a 6’2”, 183 pound MAN, GOSH DANGIT.
Did I run into some less-than-savory characters along that bike path? Sure. But never once was I afraid (of humans, animals are scary and skunks smell bad).
But really, the thought of someone forcibly inserting his penis somewhere into my body never crossed my mind. But for the women with whom I worked, being raped was a very real possibility, should they find themselves riding a bike late at night due to being broke.
And it’s not just riding a bike late at night. Women live in fear of being raped all the time. Now, I don’t mean that pejoratively. Women are a strong, hearty, smooth bunch. They birth babies and stub their toes and pluck their eyebrows. They kick a lot of ass.
But they do live in fear. My fiancee (hi I love you) lives in Washington, D.C. She is a strong, independent woman who is not afraid of much (bugs notwithstanding). She’s lived in Spain for half a year and goes to college in gun-happy Texas. She’s not fazed by the nation’s capital.
And yet she gets catcalled daily. She gets hit on while trying to politely rebuff advances. She wears a (dope-ass antique) engagement ring and still, menfolk’s inherent creepiness persists.
So back to rape jokes. You — white, male, funny-man — don’t live with this fear. You (and I) can never know this type of fear. The fear I am talking about is that a man will force you to have sex with him at any given moment, traumatizing you forever (if he does not murder you). On the subway. On a run in the park. Walking home from the bar. Going to the grocery store. Fucking anywhere.
Making a rape joke can remind women of that fear. Even ones who have not been raped. The fact that they are ~50 percent of the planet and very, very nice, means making rape jokes is a dick move. Like a “I have a little micro-penis and I am very uncreative” level of dick move.
Ninety-nine percent of rape jokes are not funny. Some are, but those are exceedingly rare and usually by professional, long-tenured comedians. You, I imagine, are not that.
So don’t do it. Don’t remind a woman — even a single one — of the fear they live with every moment of every day — a fear they have to craft their life around — by telling a shitty rape joke.
Be creative. Write better. Don’t be a fucking shitbag rape joker.