Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Rape is Funny"

When I had first heard that rape jokes were a problem I had no idea how prevalent these jokes were. Now that I am thinking about it I realize just how many there are. I never really thought about prison rape jokes, child molester/priest jokes, and general rape jokes as being in the same category, it just never occurred to me. It makes sense but I find it interesting and odd that prison rape jokes are common because we see them as deserving or as "other" than us so it is acceptable. However, in that vain why are priest and child molester jokes common as well? When you think about it these are sometimes the most serious kinds of rape because they are against defenseless children and yet we find jokes about it funny.

I remembered watching the South Park episode and thinking it was pretty funny but not one of their best. Knowing now where those rape scenes came from I can see how much worse those scenes are and how truly offensive them may seem. Before I had thought that because of the sheer ridiculousness of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg raping Indiana Jones, a fictional character, it wasn't that bad, now I understand how having seen the scenes they use this episode can appear in a whole other light.

I think everyone can agree about rape being a special class of crime where there is no good reason or excuse for it, unlike murder or theft. If you are starving to death and you steal food it is understandable. Just as if someone tries to kill you or kills your family it is understandable for you to kill them, not excusable or acceptable just understandable. I never thought about rape in prison as being something that we could put a stop to. I think that is because our society bombards us with the idea that it always happens and they deserve it. Regardless of personal feelings about prisoners deserving to be raped, I personally don't think they do albeit except for drastic and few exceptions i.e. (child) rapists. An eye opening comment was, if we can't stop rape in a place where people are gated in and there are guards with guns walking around, how can we do it in the open outside world? That really made me think.

To a degree I think over usage of jokes like these do desensitize us somewhat. Someone mentioned they overheard a guy talking about raping a girl to "put her in her place". When I heard that I was actually shocked and thrown by that. I tend to believe myself to be fairly cynical and generally see the bad in people but that still surprised me. One of the more gray area things discussed I think was the concept of a man and woman both getting drunk to have sex and where that fits in the discussion of rape. This led to people who actively intoxicate themselves to do things they wouldn't while sober or try to match someone else's level of intoxication so they don't feel like they are raping them. I think it is important to discuss these things and society's portrayal of rape in general, especially on a college campus where all types of these situations arise constantly whether black, white, or shades of gray.

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