Lately, it seems like just about every day you can skim through your facebook feed and see either a post showing a rape joke, or a post about a rape joke. One of the more recent ones that has exploded on the facebook scene is the comedian Daniel Tosh and his use of rape jokes during his stand-up routine. It seems like there has been a total explosion of these jokes, but in reality, I think rape jokes have always been far too common. It may be that we are just seeing them more often because of the advent of facebook. Several years ago, before the facebook and myspace explosion, I was still hearing rape jokes. Maybe I didn't see them as often as I do now on sites like facebook, but I heard them. I don't think they were as vulgar as blatant as they are today, but there were still references to rape that were inappropriate at best.
The most common one I heard then, and by far the most common thing I hear even now today from the actual mouths of people is the use of the term "rape" to refer to being charged too much for a product or treated unfairly. An example of this would be the sentence "I got raped at the gas station today." Ever since I was raped, hearing this type of statement is like nails on the chalkboard. On top of the fact that for a period of time, the mere mention of "rape" sent chills down my spine, hearing it used in such a casual context, to describe something that didn't come even remotely close to what a rape victim really goes through just stung. Of course, no one realized this would bother me, because most people didn't know that I had experienced rape. The first problem with using the term rape in this context is that it takes away from the severity of what this crime really is. It makes a crime where dignity and choice is ripped away from a victim, leaving them feeling guilt, shame and violated unlike any other crime seem no worse than having to pay extra money to put gas in the car. Quite honestly, even though I don't like hearing the term rape be used in this way, I don't generally get that upset about it with the people using it in that way. They are typically people who mean no harm and are using it in that way because they feel society is OK with it. They don't realize how awful that sounds to a victim.
However, when comedians resort to using rape jokes in their stand-up routines, that is a whole different matter. Although Daniel Tosh is the comdian currently in the news for doing this, he is by far not the first or only comedian to use rape jokes. For one, the nature of these jokes is usually much more sinister than just misusing the term rape. Often the jokes they make are victim-blaming in nature, alluding that victims are asking to be raped, that they deserve it, or that all claims of rape are false accusations. Quite frankly, my thought about a comedian who uses rape jokes in their routine is that they aren't smart enough to come up with real material that is actually funny. I wouldn't pay any money to see a comedian who is known for using rape jokes, and frankly, you couldn't even pay me enough money to see one either.
If you are a comedian - don't use rape jokes in your routine - if you are real comedian, you won't need to.
If you are an average joe person - don't make rape jokes. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men are victims of rape, chances are, there is a victim within hearing distance of your joke. It won't be funny to them, and it shouldn't be funny to anyone else either.