Humor is a great way to de-stress and to entertain. However, it seems that comedy is also used to make unfriendly remarks. I usually don’t tend to belly laugh when this humor derides victims of rape.
Comedians have a seemingly unlimited amount of power on stage. With this immense amount of power, comedians have no problem using the powerless as the butt of their most popular jokes.
It feels rather redundant, but I feel that it’s extremely important to say that rape jokes have never been and will never be funny.
In 2012, U.S. comedian Daniel Tosh was performing at the Laugh Factory in Las Vegas when he made a rape joke. Immediately following the joke, audience member Elissa Bassist called out to Tosh saying that “rape jokes aren’t funny.”
After the performance, Bassist posted a blog post about the performance. She received an immense amount of backlash for standing up for those affected by the joke.
In today’s world of entertainment, rape culture has become the go-to plot twist. Movies and songs containing rape have been featured on Billboard’s 100 and the Oscars.
Not only are these jokes extremely inappropriate and rude, they also dehumanize rape victims. It’s already hard enough for victims of rape to come forward about their experience, but with people throwing around the word like it’s nothing, it belittles the victims and their experiences making it more difficult to some forward.
According to the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MCASA), only 35% of rapes are actually reported to the police. That means that a whopping 65% of rapes aren’t reported.
Many victims also suffer from severe PTSD and these jokes can be triggering for them.
One study done by the National Center for PTSD found that out of 100 rape victims, 94 people reported symptoms of PTSD just two weeks following the rape.
Why someone would want to remind another of their own rape just for a few laughs is beyond me.
This blasé viewpoint, unfortunately, doesn’t only extend to rape culture. Phrases like “that’s gay” or “you’re retarded” are thrown around with little to no regard for the groups of people that are being offended.
It blows my mind that, considering the recent rise in support for minority groups, people still make these types of jokes. But, what’s even worse is the reaction to those who stand against the jokes.
“It was just a joke,” “lighten up” “where’s your sense of humor” are all common responses to those protesting these jokes.
Another excuse that often accompanies these jokes is the “freedom of speech” card. Americans do have freedom of speech, yes, but that isn’t an excuse to be rude and degrading.
Part of the reason that people don’t see these jokes as directly offensive is because they aren’t saying it someone’s face. With the popularity of social media, people have become too comfortable with hiding behind their screen and not accepting the consequences that accompany their words.