An Addendum, On Rape Jokes

I don’t know if rape jokes encourage rape culture. I don’t care. You still shouldn’t tell them.

Statistically, if you have told a rape joke to a group of more than five people, one of the people you told it to was a rape survivor, possibly of multiple rapes. They will not necessarily disclose this to you; rape apologism is endemic in society and most rape survivors are cautious about whom they tell. Some may even be too ashamed of their rape to admit it to anyone, or because of rape-minimizing narratives like “men can’t be raped” and “I consented to oral, so I couldn’t have been raped” may not admit it even to themselves. The fact remains: if you’ve told dozens of rape jokes in your life, then you have almost certainly told a joke that minimizes or trivializes rape in front of a survivor.

And if you put as your Facebook status “I totally raped at Halo today” for your two hundred Facebook friends to see, statistically, you have just reminded thirty-three people of one of the worst experiences of their entire lives.

To describe how well you did at a video game.

Good job!

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84 Responses to An Addendum, On Rape Jokes

  1. *applause* 😀

    *chorus of cats join in* :3

  2. Very true, though I will say that while I vividly remember my public and humiliating sexual assault, and still would like retribution, despite how unjust it would be, it was by far not the worst experience of my life, and I imagine that’s the case for a lot of survivors. It’s part of the emotional derail that some antis use, to invoke rape as the worst thing that can happen to a person where the victim can still walk after it’s done… for some people it’s a life-derailing trauma… for me it wasn’t. It makes me mad, but then do did the daily humiliation of finding my locker smeared with spit, overripe banana, chocolate frosting, you name it.

  3. ozymandias42 says:

    Valerie: Oops! I mean to say “one of the worst experiences” and it got lost in editing. 🙂 I think “one of the worst” is probably accurate for the vast majority of rape survivors; if it’s inaccurate, do tell me and I’ll edit again. 🙂

  4. Nobby says:

    *Joins in the applause. Possibly as a cat*

  5. Yay! 😀 Nobbycat 😀 *snuggles*

  6. desipis says:

    You still shouldn’t tell [rape jokes].

    I generally dislike absolute statements, and this is one of those I dislike. Sure, there are plenty of times when a rape joke would be inappropriate. A FaceBook update is one of those times/places that is probably going to be inappropriate.

    However I do have groups of friends who talk in a very hyperbolic manner, where we all understand and expect that language to be used in a non-literal way. I don’t think it’s right to force groups like that to police their language or humour according to some external standard, particularly not simply on the chance that someone may be a victim and that person may be offended by the language. Limiting language use or communication style would inhibit a shared sense of identity and culture, and impose an mental and emotion burden on people during the time they need to relax and ‘be themselves’. That may seem like a small sacrifice to some people, however I’ve generally observed that the people predominately using this form of language are the same people who struggle to easily communicate with others in a normal fashion. I don’t see how you can universally say that the costs of restricting language and humour will always been less than the costs of the potential harm done to victims from using that language.

  7. mythago says:

    I don’t think it’s right to force groups like that to police their language or humour according to some external standard

    “Force”? “Police”? Is anyone suggesting that if your friends think it’s hilarious to say “I totally raped that guy at TF2” that they should be arrested or fined? Here’s this neat thing about free speech: it applies to everyone. So yes, just as you and your friends are free to use ‘hyperbolic’ speech, other people are free to say “You guys are being jerks and what you say hurts people.” You are of course free to ignore them, or to whine that you are being “policed”. I guess that’s easier than thinking that maybe some of that ‘hyperbolic’ speech is thoughtless and hurtful, and exercising a little voluntary self-control not to say it.

  8. Nobody’s forcing you to do nething xD And if your whole group of friends is ok w/ it, then you obv won’t be offending nebody at all :3 Ozy’s merely saying that the larger a group, and the less you know of them, the more likely somebody’s going to have been a survivor… and it might be problematic for them… and if that’s a problem for you, it might be something to keep in mind.. and if it’s not, as Mythago says, you can say whatever you want xD

  9. superglucose says:

    Here’s all I have to say about this:

    It has multiple definitions. Should I not talk about rape seed around people on the off chance that they’re a survivor?

  10. You can do whatever you want superglucose xD If you believe ppl might be triggered by that, and it concerns you, then you might decide not to joke about that :3 I think we all know what Ozy meant by her post tho xD

  11. Clarence says:

    I mostly agree with you and Ozzy on this. HOWEVER I would make one exception for big crowds: comedians. Professional comedian or otherwise, people should know that unless it’s specified otherwise they might get offended or triggered by something if they attend a Chris Rock performance, for example.

  12. Comedians, like nebody else, choose if it’s worth it, and what jokes they decide to tell xD And the audience also, as you say, can choose to go… also to criticize, as can others… and the comedian deals w/ that criticism… (and the critics often deal w/ criticism of their criticism too xD ) etc xD Sometimes it’s “worth it” to them to apologize, sometimes they keep on trucking… I dun think it’s rly an exception… just a different context :3

  13. Johnny_B says:

    I don’t know if anyone else heard about this, it’s fairly old, but: France is apparently fining comedians for this stuff.

    Is it right? Is freedom of speech more important than the risk of offending someone? I’m not sure.

  14. Clarence says:


    Think about what you just asked.
    If you don’t want to risk ever offending ANYONE (and in fact, in most of the laws of this type its merely privileged classes that get “protection”) then don’t open your mouth. Best to live a hermit and hunt or fish your own food.

  15. jnakabb says:

    “I totally raped at Halo today”
    Holy crap – do people actually say/think/write like that ?

  16. Johnny_B says:

    I guess you’d have to define at which point jokes become hate speech. Because unfortunately, if you keep making jokes at the expense of a particular group of people, you are encouraging others to ostracize and look down upon that group, and that can lead to bad things down the road. But I don’t agree with censoring free speech either, which is why I said I’m not sure what the ideal solution is.

    jnakabb: that surprises you? You must not play a lot of online games if you think that’s the worst people say, actually. 🙂

  17. Emmeline says:

    I think I’ve said this before. I’m a rape victim (also I tried to commit suicide and I much prefer suicide jokes to people trying to talk about it seriously but that’s another matter) and I will laugh at rape jokes if there’s no malice or ignorance involved. So “lol, he got tied to the bed and raped by his future wife” leaves me cold, this (yes more fandom pimping, sorry) where the funny comes from this smarmy guy actually rubbing it in his victims’ faces is freaking hilarious in the blackest comedy way possible.

  18. Emmeline says:

    As one more point because I’m paranoid. If people don’t like rape jokes or find them triggering, then that’s obviously perfectly okay, I think I’m just trying to get across that the ones who *do* make them or find them funny aren’t necessarily trying to trivialize the matter. A good percentage of people (or at least I would like to think so) are in the Mel Brooks style of comedy, trying to blow a raspberry to a horrible thing and make it not scary anymore.

  19. jnakabb says:

    You must not play a lot of online games
    Sadly, no. Most of my online gaming is now spent shepherding and rescuing my eldest from within a VERY moderated MMO.

  20. desipis says:

    @mythago, sorry poor choice of language on my part. I was arguing against a moral, not legal, judgement of rape jokes. Your “voluntary self-control” is essentially what I meant by the term ‘police’, and think I generally agree with your comment. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t reflect on what they say and the way they say it, and consider it’s impact on others. However, ozymandias’ post implies that rape jokes are morally or universally wrong; that the bad always outweighs the good. I’m arguing that’s not the case. While there are ways to tell rape jokes that would be objectively assessed to be morally wrong, we can’t always judge them that way on face value.

  21. Feckless says:

    In short, gender-policing causes rape. You want to end the rape of women? Work for men to have freedom from gender roles– even the limited freedom that women have right now.

    I don’t really know. This sounds to me very similar to the rhetoric against violent video games. Shooter plays violent video games > playing violent video games leads to being violent. But correlation does not imply causation. It is likely that a violent person tends to like violent games more not the other way round. And especially tossing “hyper-masculinity” into the mix makes me cringe. Not that I disagree with you, we have to fight for this, if this however influences the number of rapes is what I would doubt.

    Somebody said something about different literature about rapists. People, keep in mind that we are talking about 2 different kinds of rapists.

    1) The forcible rapist that is usually the stranger that overpowers the victim

    2) The person who rapes that believes he is not actually raping someone

  22. Harper says:

    @Feckless, please keep in mind that your 1) is a tiny minority of rapists, and your 2) are using those standard gender roles to justify their “not-really-rape.”

    (You may have also meant to comment on the post previous.)

  23. Feckless says:

    I am not disagreeing here. 1) seems to be the person they interview in one survey (inmates) and 2) the undetected rapists Lisak finds in her work. Which explains the difference in the literature….god dammit…you are right wrong posts…..*sigh*

  24. Could someone explain something to me? I realize this might come across as trollish – but I’m being serious.
    Read this story really quickly.
    Now let’s imagine that Bryan Stow wakes up from his coma – and goes online to play Halo.

    Someone says “Oh dude, you totally got your teeth kicked in! He beat the shit out of you!”

    This would, understandably be triggering for Mr. Stow – therefore, no one should refer to violence in a joking sort of manner.

    (I say this as a victim of a violent random beating: I’d like someone to explain why we should create special rules for sexual assault but not for violent assault – honest question – because I find terms like that to be disturbing, but I don’t ask others not to use them because I don’t want to police their words because of my pain.)

  25. “A good percentage of people (or at least I would like to think so) are in the Mel Brooks style of comedy, trying to blow a raspberry to a horrible thing and make it not scary anymore.”

    This. The moment we lose the ability to laugh at the most horrific parts of life, we begin to lose power over it.

  26. Watt Tyler says:

    What do you mean by “rape jokes”? That includes jokes which rely on the idea that rape is funny or trivial, but also black humour which relies on the shared understanding that rape is a horrible thing, or jokes satirising attitudes to rape.

    I agree that jokes in the former category are unpleasant, but there is often an outraged reaction to jokes in the latter categories too, which I don’t think is warranted.

    For example, here’s a “rape joke” where the point is actually about the importance of consent:

    Your Halo status update example isn’t even a joke, it’s the figurative use of the word. The usage might be distasteful and trivialising, but what percentage of rape survivors are going to be triggered by it, especially ones who are accustomed to its figurative use in gaming?

    Also, shouldn’t people also avoid referencing stabbing in comedy? A lot of people are knife crime survivors and it might trigger them. What about grieving people? I guess jokes about death should be out too.

  27. ozymandias42 says:

    Sigh. I see I am going to have to explain Ozy’s Philosophy of Rape Jokes and Rape-Minimizing Things (and, yes, the second one wasn’t actually a joke, but I wasn’t sure what to call it actually beyond “a douchey thing to do”).

    I make a distinction between two kinds of rape jokes: those that are against the rape survivor, and those that are against the rapist. The Louis CK joke right there is a joke about rape, but it is against rapists and about the importance of consent, and I have no ethical problems with it. 🙂 On the other hand, some of the wonderfully douchey things my gamer friends said in high school– such as “rape is a crime, except on Wednesdays!”– minimize and trivialize rape, and those are seriously not okay, especially since we are all Schrodinger’s Rape Survivor here.

    EE: The difference, to me, is that (a) people who have been assaulted are a smaller percentage of the population than people who have been raped and (b) it’s acceptable to say “not cool, dude, I just got beaten up” in circumstances in which people might not feel comfortable saying “not cool, dude, I just got raped.”

  28. Thanks for clarifying, Ozy. I completely agree with everything you’ve said here – great post.

    I would never, ever make a joke about rape being OK – I also would openly chastise anyone I heard make a joke like that. Same thing with domestic violence jokes.

    I do call my white undershirts “wife beaters” though… hmmm.

  29. elementary_watson says:

    @ozy: The Louis CK anecdote is rather against women who say “no” but mean “yes” and then hold it against a man if he takes them at their word; or, to coin a term, wannabe rape victims. (The idea of people existing who fit such a description is actually pretty scary.)

    BTW, I really don’t think that there are significantly more rape victims than assault victims; have you any stats?

  30. TitforTat says:

    (a) people who have been assaulted are a smaller percentage of the population than people who have been raped (Ozy)

    Where did you get the stats for this? It seems to me that it would be the other way around. I have personally witnessed many, many assaults and but no rapes. In fact I have personally assaulted numerous times and never raped.

  31. TitforTat says:

    I meant to say “have been personally assaulted”. Though I regret to say I have assaulted people also.

  32. Jim says:

    “This. The moment we lose the ability to laugh at the most horrific parts of life, we begin to lose power over it.”

    Valerie, this reminds me of a Holocaust joke I heard from one of my soldiers, who had grown up in Germany: “Hey, don’t joke about the Holocaust. my grandfather died in the Holocaust…..he fell out of a guard tower.” The context of the joke is the horror and self-loathing most (99.99%) Germans feel over the Holocaust. The joke in effect re-inforces it, but it goes right to the edge of offensiveness by playing with a wildly inappropriate victim mentality to make it work.

  33. ozymandias42 says:

    Whereas I know lots of people who have been raped and almost no one who has been assaulted. Shows how good the anecdata is here…

    Statistically, in the US, about one in six women and an unknown but probably comparable number of men have been raped. I can’t find statistics on the rate of battery in the US, but I assume it’s less than 1 in 6.

  34. @Ozy
    I’ve quoted this on my blog before – but the number is 1 in 6 men will be physically assaulted in their life. That also includes sexual assault, however.

    So, basically men have the same chance of being attacked as women do of being sexually attacked.

    Source: 1998 Women’s & Men’s Health Survey, Harris & Associates

  35. JM says:

    The US DOJ says the total assault rate is 16.3 per 1,000 people and the rate “with injury” is 3.4 per 1,000 people for the year of 2008. (For comparison it states a rape/sexual assault rate, including threats, of 0.8 per 1,000.) If these rates hold steady for a life expectancy of 78.3 years this comes out to an average of 1,279 assaults per 1,000 lifetimes, with 266 resulting in injuries. Of course, you may not agree with the methodology, some people may be victimized more than once, etc., etc. but that’s what this set of statistics says.

  36. Oh, and if this post is REALLY going to be side-tracked about assault rates of men – I just want to warn you:
    Saying that the high rate of men getting assaulted is because of the high level of crime/fighting that men are involved in is victim blaming. Think about that before you type it out.

  37. Toysoldier says:

    Also, shouldn’t people also avoid referencing stabbing in comedy? A lot of people are knife crime survivors and it might trigger them. What about grieving people? I guess jokes about death should be out too.

    That is a valid point that often gets ignored in these situations. How many people consider the chances that someone they say, “Man, I got killed in traffic!” might have lost a family member in a traffic accident? Should we not use ‘killed’ in a metaphorical manner? What about ‘slayed’? ‘Murdered’? What about words born out of bigotry like ‘gypped’?

    I understand the desire to not make light of rape. However, I do not think saying “I raped you at Halo” trivializes rape. To rape also means to plunder or despoil, so technically those people used the word correctly. I think this may be a case of people being too politically correct. Granted, I am rather thick-skinned. Direct insults do not bother me, so a casual use of a word describing something done to me is not going to bother me. Other people may differ.

    That said, I do think people should be conscious of the words they use, and be ready to face a potential negative reaction if someone gets offended.

  38. Druk says:

    Please don’t say “correlation does not imply causation”; correlation does, in fact, imply causation when using a layman’s definition of “imply”. (not that I necessarily disagree with the rest of that post)

    For non-legal definitions, I think rape is more of a specific type of assault, so I would say that it can’t be more common than assault. Also, ozy’s (b) seems to be saying that it’s OK to trivialize assault because it’s already trivialized so much that victims laugh it off?

  39. BlackHumor says:

    @Toysoldier: The first point I want to make is that rape is about the trauma. It’s more okay to mention crimes besides rape jokingly because most crimes besides rape aren’t intended to make you suffer emotionally. There’s no wound to reopen, is what I’m getting at here.

    The second point is that just because this doesn’t bother you doesn’t mean it doesn’t bother everyone.

  40. typhonblue says:

    @ Black Humor

    “The first point I want to make is that rape is about the trauma. ”

    Then rape only exists if a rapist intends to hurt the victim? That’s good to know.

  41. Titfortat says:

    It’s more okay to mention crimes besides rape jokingly because most crimes besides rape aren’t intended to make you suffer emotionally.(Blackwater)

    Im not sure if you experienced the beatdown in your life but let me fill you in on what some of us remember from it. Shame, fear, anger, disappointment, resentment. Im not sure but I think those sound pretty emotional to me. Trust me on this, the bruises and cuts heal much quicker. Intentions, yep sure……………

  42. @Titfortat:
    Exactly this.

    Taken from my blog post about my group beating:

    About 3 or 4 nights (it was always the nights that were worst) later, sleeping on my air mattress in my dorm, I, reenacting in my mind what I should’ve done, gripped the plastic of the mattress so hard that I ripped it, and my fingernails tore the flesh of my palm. I sat on the floor and looked at my bloody hand and cried for the first time since it happened.

    Of course – you know – maybe I should’ve “taken it like a man” or something. I know no one here is invalidating my experience – but I think Ozy is the only one who got it right here – rape is different because it’s so private – when you tell rape jokes there is a VERY slim chance that any rape survivors who hear you will speak up and say “That’s not cool – that happened to me.”

    Now we just need to figure out what other kinds of victimization people won’t speak up about:
    – incest?
    – domestic violence?
    – miscarriage?

  43. trinity91 says:

    Number one, I think we need to redefine what we mean by rape jokes. The definition I use, and it seems the definition ozy uses is any reference to the act of rape that minimizes the very real and traumatic experience that is that particular type of assault (correct me ozy if you feel like I’m wrong here) Which means that jokes that make fun of rapists, do not qualify as rape jokes, but as rapist jokes (I know splitting hairs here, but I think that this is a time when those hairs need to be split).
    Furthermore, I’d just like to say that any kind of joke which makes light of violence makes me extremely angry, and for the exact same reason that rape jokes make me angry. Which is for the exact reason that people are trying to justify telling rape jokes. As a society we have decided that there are certain things which we should just not call people because of the history surrounding that word. Why is it so hard to not do the same things with making jokes that make light of violent crimes which anyone can admit have the same kind of history as those words?

  44. typhonblue says:

    @ EE

    “when you tell rape jokes there is a VERY slim chance that any rape survivors who hear you will speak up and say “That’s not cool – that happened to me.””

    I also think there’s a slim chance that men will speak up about any kind of violent victimization as it’s counter the masculine narrative. Look at the stats on men even reporting violence to the police!

  45. OrangeYouGlad says:

    I also want to throw in that the idea that physical violence has no emotional componant strikes me as beyond belief. After all, it places you in the position of believing you are very likely going to die which can’t be fun to contemplate in a real and immediate way.

  46. Rae says:

    @Ozy, I think EE is right: what you say about rape extends pretty straightforwardly to all forms of physical violence. I’m happy to modus ponens that one: jokes against victims of violence are not cool. (One of my personal unfavorites: why is it considered OK to make jokes about men getting hit in the groin?) This makes it OK to joke about violence, so long as the punch line isn’t “hurr hurr, look at that guy/girl who just got raped/bashed”. Which it is, a depressing amount of the time.

  47. Kodiak says:

    “. However, I do not think saying “I raped you at Halo” trivializes rape. To rape also means to plunder or despoil, so technically those people used the word correctly. I think this may be a case of people being too politically correct.”

    Right… ok, let’s ask the guys that I played MMORPGs or FPSs with in highschool if they know any of the other definitions of the word, and if that’s what they meant instead… especially when they turn to the guy who just lost the mario cart racing or whatever and say “dude, you must be sore ’cause I just totally raped your ass!”*. I think that people are being pedantic to say that the most commonly used definition of the word rape isn’t the one that is the intended use by guys who are trying to be “edgy”.

    To add to the original post, I think that this post, and most specifically the list of response options open to survivors in situations where they are uncomfortable might help with understanding where the post is coming from.

    I also am of the same “but there are other violent crimes that are just as bad!” camp, but I come down on the side of “don’t joke about them either” ’cause I think that’s just as traumatizing. A close friend of mine died in a fire about two years back… guess how fun the internets were for me then and how much I had to cut myself off from any adversarial forums or blogs or videogames just to avoid being tossed back into wondering about my friend’s last moments alive and how much he didn’t, how much NO ONE, deserves to DIAF**… and that’s when I realized on more than an intellectual level what people meant by “triggering”.

    *actual phrase heard after someone was skunked on the rainbow road track
    **thankfully that acronym has apparently died off… but for a while there it was everywhere… or maybe I just started to see it everywhere because it now hurt when I saw it…

  48. Kodiak says:

    screwed up the html… here’s the link that was supposed to be under “this post”

  49. Clarence says:

    I find that essay unconvincing for two reasons:
    A. I value all types of dark humor, even when directed at myself
    B. It ties humor to class and race too much
    It’s also historically inaccurate – white people have been lynched for various reasons, and more to the point, the KKK also lynched Jewish people.
    Lastly it’s offensive to teach permanent victim-hood, at least to me.

  50. @Titfortat

    Having been a victim of both, I whole-heartedly agree.

  51. BlackHumor says:

    “It’s also historically inaccurate – white people have been lynched for various reasons, and more to the point, the KKK also lynched Jewish people.”

    Why is this relevant?

  52. Clarence says:


    Historical innacuracies used in the service of a political manifesto -for by tying humor explicitly to politics that is precisely what that is – are never benign.

  53. BlackHumor says:

    But it’s not inaccurate: a lot of black people were lynched by white people.

    That other people were lynched for other reasons doesn’t mean that black people were not lynched.

  54. Kodiak says:

    Clarence: in answer to your post – I don’t get the class implications you apparently do in the essay. In fact I don’t really see anywhere that it’s mentioned, but that might be my own blinkers, can you point out where it is?

    secondly, I think that you’re painting with too broad strokes if you say that the essayist is being historically inaccurate. She brought up one personal anecdote that involved race to illustrate a broader point about laughter as an uncomfortable response to things. She didn’t give a dissertation on lynching through history, if anything she repeated a remembered lecture by a gradeschool history teacher years after the fact. Dunno why you want her to have been really fulsome about the subject when it was just an anecdote to illustrate a point.

    Even if you don’t agree with the later parts of the essay, I still feel that her list of potential responses was eye-opening for me.

  55. Sagredo says:

    What’s your opinion on the Penny Arcade “dickwolves” controversy? Here’s the original comic.

  56. Clarence says:

    Here’s a snippet:

    “…Or, here’s another: laughing at/telling rape jokes is a pretty clear indicator of how little you can personally identify with the very real consequences of a very real act, just like laughing at/telling lynching jokes is a pretty clear indicator that you’re so so so white, and have never known and will never know somebody who was lynched (though you might know somebody who did the lynching). But, let’s boil this down to its common denominator: laughing at torture that has historically been directed at one class of people who were not allowed access to societal protection or defense is a very clear indicator of where your loyalties lie.

    And before it comes up: ignorance is not a defense. Ignorance of the prevalence of rape, of the possibility that you are making a joke in front of a rape victim, and ignorance of the vastness of racism, is only a further indicator of just how much more fucked up and shitty the experience of the victim you are joking at has been. And refusing to see that ignorance for what it is, and own it, and make a commitment to educate yourself, is the second very clear indicator of where your loyalties lie. And don’t think that’s lost on the people who have to hear your nervous giggles…”

    Several problematic things about those paragraphs:
    A. Blame attached to freaking kids who aren’t even grown up, and are certainly the last thing from mentally mature
    B. Total erasure of white victims of lynching or heck, Jewish victims as well (since some people don’t consider jews “white”)
    C. Ignorance doesn’t matter – In short, no distinction between having a guilty mind or heart and not.
    D. The condescending holier-than-thou tone
    E. The assertion that people “choose sides” based on humor is a bad argument, esp. by someone who doesn’t allow for ignorance as an excuse. More to the point, what about someone who likes all types of “dark” humor including the occasional joke directed their way? No loyalties I suppose?

    In short this person is totalitarian ideologue, who views victimization strictly through a race and class and sexual lens and presumes to regulate humor based on both perceived and real historical injustices.

    I’ve seen many feminist make the same points in a more humane and respectful way.

  57. Toysoldier says:

    @Kodiak: Even the most common usage of ‘rape’ still technically fits the other definition, which is why we use ‘rape’ to describe sexual violence. But that is playing semantics. No one is actually trivializing sexual violence. They are using the terminology metaphorically, and the notion that certain metaphors are off limits because a random person might get offended is ridiculous.

    Your experience actually shows the absurdity of trying to police language like this. How is anyone to know that your friend died in a fire? How do you know the people using the phrase did not share your experience? I am sure you use the phrase “I beat that game”. Are you going to stop using it because someone who was physically abused gets triggers by it?  Your being triggered really has nothing to doing with the people’s use of DIAF. It has everything to do with how you coped with your loss, and no one has any responsibility to anticipate that.

  58. OrangeYouGlad says:

    Probably the caricature of a “southern redneck” sort being, immediately, a “real and brutal enemy”… personally I’ll say, coming from a Southern culturally “redneck” (my grandfather and father were construction workers but my father managed an office job with the water management and so income-wise, by the time I was born, we were firmly middle class) family in a generally “poor” farming town I can see the point he’s making on the one hand, on the other, being gay and having most threats against my life coming from exactly that type I can also understand the temptation to characterise them as dangerous.

    In fact, I think it was Clarence on EE’s blog post “Schrödinger’s Racist” saying it was reasonable to view inner-city thuggish types as more dangerous than a black man in a prep school… I am a little interested in how he differentiates, or if he does, between that and a “redneck” and white man in a prep school… after all, it seems equally “classist” to find poor inner city thugs dangerous as it does to find poor rural rednecks dangerous.

    Personally, my feelings are mixed.

  59. OrangeYouGlad says:

    That post was to answer Kodiak’s question on classism in the article.

  60. Clarence says:


    I go by crime stats and personal experience. If you choose differently, that’s fine too.

  61. Glaivester says:

    I make a distinction between two kinds of rape jokes: those that are against the rape survivor, and those that are against the rapist.

    I think you could also make a joke that is against a rape apologist.

    On another note, I think the type of humor matters as well – if the goal is to be goofy and funny, then jokes about rape trivialize it. If the humor is more biting and sarcastic, and darkly satirical, I think there would be more leeway, as the goal of any such jokes would be to bring up an issue presumably for a constructive purpose (e.g. humor around military commanders using the term “unilaterally consensual sex” would largely be a condemnation of propaganda-speak).

  62. OrangeYouGlad says:

    Clarence: I suppose the question is whether that is classist. To take statistical information and personal experience and draw the conclusion that poor rural “rednecks” (or poor inner-city “thugs” if looking at other crime stats and possessing other personal experiences) are dangerous. If it’s not classist to draw conclusions about a class based on stats and personal experience then I do not think the article was being classist, instead it was merely drawing a conclusion based on stats and the (presumed) personal experience of those black men.

    Not to say the article was free of problems or that I agree with all its conclusions (though, I admit I am not a fan of certain types of rape jokes. I don’t think I could propose a “blanket ban” either, of course, as that would catch rape jokes I do like (such as the Louis CK joke) and rape jokes told by survivors as a coping mechanism (which is, imo, as valid as any other coping mechanism))

  63. Doug S. says:

    I suppose everyone’s also familiar with George Carlin’s routine and the “Something Positive” three page arc in which a misogynist D&D player’s character has an unfortunate encounter with Redneck Trees already?

  64. MaMu1977 says:

    Who the hell puts up Facebook notes about raping people on a video game!!?

    You know what, I don’t want to know, at all. As a guy who cheered Louis CK when he told his rape joke, I’d like to continue living in a world where even social degenerates understand that no means no (and that a yes in duress will become a no at a later point.)

  65. Honest question: Is this a rape joke? I can’t tell if it fits the description of the “bad” kind of rape joke.

  66. Weener says:

    I’m a [twice] raped victim, & I tell rape jokes. I’m also a blonde who tells blonde jokes. When the jokes are said they are not a threat, or directed toward you, so find something else to cry about.

  67. Sagredo says:

    Maybe jokes are funnier if you think they’d offend other people?

  68. Munch says:

    Emmaline, “… (yes more fandom pimping, sorry) where the funny comes from this smarmy guy actually rubbing it in his victims’ faces is freaking hilarious in the blackest comedy way possible.”

    This is funny because……..??????

  69. Munch says:

    If people start using the word ‘rape’ in a flippant manner to describe things that have nothing to do with rape or in an attempt to be humorous regardless of whether perceived as laughing at the perpetrator or the survivor, I will start using a different word or phrase to describe what happened to me just so that the seriousness of this crime and its impact on me is not lost. I might say,

    ‘My body, mind and soul were criminally violated by men abusing power and sex’ or I might say,

    ‘For the last 20 years, I have suffered with symptoms of PTSD and depression as a result of men abusing the most intimate parts of my body and mind and this has impacted all my relationships, worklife, spirituality and the whole of my well-being’ or I might say,

    ‘I don’t understand what I did to deserve someone breaking my personal integrity but I feel worthless as a result’ or I might say,

    ‘It feels like I am living in a bubble and the rest of the world just carries on, it doesn’t feel like I belong here’ or I might say,

    ‘I’ve attempted suicide 3 times and experienced suidical ideation at my lowest periods’

    ‘I’m really aware of how men smell and I get freaked out by it. If someone touches me, I freeze, I numb out and then I might have a panic attack.’


  70. Oliphant says:

    I’m going to have to agree with ‘Weener’ and ‘Emmeline’. I’m a victim and I tell jokes all the time. I laugh when my friends do too. They’re not attacks. We don’t have to be wilting flowers.

    And I don’t remember who said something up there about ‘just because you don’t get offended, doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t’. That’s true. But at the same time, just because somebody gets offended, doesn’t mean we all do. They’re jokes. Just relax.

  71. Emmeline says:

    @Munch Because it’s dark yet silly. Because it’s a joke at the rapist’s expense, making him such an oblivious bastard while the victims are traumatized and angry, respectively. Because there’s post-it notes. Because the actor who played the Critic (shirtless and red tie) was the one who thought it up and really wanted to have himself as the woobie. I could go on.

    Please bear in mind that I’m not attacking you, just explaining myself.

  72. Valentine says:

    As much as my heart goes out to rape victims, being raped myself, I don’t see why the phrase “I totally raped at Halo today” should be taken offensively. It is obvious that the term is intended as a hyperbole rather than a mockery of rape victims and should be interpreted as such. Nitpicking at somebody’s language and taking political correctness to a higher level is not going to fix the problem. Education, justice and personal strength is the solution.

    There is nothing that can take the pain and trauma away but life goes on. I found that during difficult times, humour was one thing that got me through all this and still keeps me going.

    Just putting my view out there.

  73. Jacob says:

    God, people who play video games are idiots.

  74. Jacob says:

    Sorry – start that above video at 13:00 to get my point.

  75. Pingback: a rant: making jokes about cancer, etc. « The Writings of Leda Harlowe

  76. Flyingkal says:

    How do you react to death jokes, if you, say, have a close friend or relative that have recently been killed in an accident?

    (I don’t mean to promote rape jokes, or say that they are more or less bad than death jokes in the above circumstance. I’m just interested in opinions since I personally think that the subjects have some points in common.)

  77. Flyingkal says:

    PS. The last post was an honest question, but I may have worded it unlucky (as I have a habit of doing since I’m not a native english speaker). If anyone finds it offensive or triggering, please remove it.

  78. A lot of these comments equate “offensive” with “triggering.” Offensive means that it offends someone, that it is racist or sexist or uses foul language or any number of things depending on who is offended. Triggering means that it reminds someone of a horrible experience, bringing about flashbacks and dissociation, actual physical responses of anxiety. When you equate these things, you tend to say things like, “Well, if I open my mouth at all, I’m going to offend someone. You can’t tell me what to say.” But offending people is not the issue.

  79. Etch says:

    I was a victim of sexual abuse and if someone tells a joke or something along those lines, I do not get offended and it is not a trigger for me. It certainly doesn’t flash those images through my head.
    People make jokes and they make offensive jokes. Generally with my friends they’re said in a way that isn’t trivialising rape but instead are parodying the overuse of actual harmful rape jokes like the one you mentioned.
    Maybe the reason I am not effected by it is because I have dealt with the trauma from it and do not feel guilty anymore about it.

    I don’t know. Maybe I am defending this and I should know better.

  80. Caitlin says:

    Although assault and other forms of violence can be equally or more traumatic than rape, I think the reason why it is unacceptable to make light of the matter for many people is because our justice system does not work very well in regards to rape. It is statistical fact that the very few men or women who do proceed with a trial will see their assailant go to prison. Many times they will be blamed for the rape (they shouldn’t have worn this, been there at that time, etc) and many people in the jury will justify or deny the rape due to the myths about rape supported by our culture (wife cannot be raped by her husband, a man cannot be raped at all, etc). Because our justice system is so broken in regards to rape (more than other forms of violence like assault), jokes or sayings that might make light of rape can be seen by many to reinforce the same the standards that prevent victims from reaching justice.
    I’m not saying I disagree with all rape jokes–context is very important and jokes can either reinforce or challenge these standards. I’m just trying to point out a reason why rape jokes are subject to a different scrutiny than assault/violence jokes.

  81. lucie says:

    Well I guess if I’m killing things in halo I could say “I totes murdered at halo today” and it really couldn’t offend anyone… not like the victims are gonna see it on fb laters.

  82. Rahadyan says:

    A couple of years ago, I went to a favorite comics store’s comedy night and several comics — mostly men, but also one woman — made jokes about rape.

    I’m ashamed of myself. I shouldn’t have even stayed past the first one. I didn’t laugh at the jokes. Instead, I shook my head (I was sitting in the front row). “Not funny, guys.” Said one of the comics: “You make me feel like I’m at dinner with my grandmother.”

    What I did and said then was not enough as a protest or an admonition. Not nearly enough.
    I’m glad that store no longer does comedy nights. I pledge to walk out of any comedy club where a rape joke is told, and boycott that club — and the work of that comedian — until a retraction and an apology is made BY THE COMEDIAN and the venue.

  83. Dago says:

    @ despis: I hardly see how refraining from telling rape jokes would be detrimental because it ‘restricts language and humour’. There might not be a black person in my close group of friends – we still don’t find it funny to toss around nigger jokes. It’s not a matter of forbidding someone from doing something – it’s that some things you shouldn’t find fucking funny in the first place. E.g, RAPE. If you and your friends think it’s funny… well. I suppose I can live with restricting your language and humour, because that’s seriously douchy.

  84. Pingback: Rape Is Not a Joke « theradicalidea

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