(Content warning: rape, rape culture, paedophilia mention, abuse mention, suicide mention)
I can’t believe I even have to write an article about this. But evidently, I do.
We live in a society where if you don’t laugh at jokes about rape, paedophilia, mental illness, you don’t have a sense of humour. I have a sense of humour, someone once asked me “do you literally laugh at everything?” The answer is no, I don’t. Because some things aren’t funny and some things are not acceptable.
By making rape jokes on a regular basis you are trivialising a serious issue. It becomes an everyday thing that is no longer treat with the severity it should be. Roughly 11 adults are raped every hour in England and Wales alone. Since I started writing this, 11 people will have been raped. Only 15% of sexual assaults are reported to the police and of these, a mere 5.7% result in a conviction.
Trivialising an issue such as this makes it even harder for victims to come forward, because not only do they fear there isn’t enough evidence for a conviction, they fear what has happened to them is a joke. Something to be laughed at over a pint.
This can result in even more emotional distress for victims than they’re already going through. Since approximately 97,000 people are raped in England and Wales each year alone, chances are when you make a rape joke, you’re going to hurt someone. Either because they have been raped, they know someone who has been raped, or because they fear being raped.
Furthermore, when rapists hear rape jokes, they think their behaviour is socially acceptable. Therefore they don’t think they’re doing anything wrong when they force someone to have sex against their will. If someone says that it’s funny to have sex with someone who is unconscious, a rapist might not think that this is a crime. Because people don’t make jokes about serious crimes.
This isn’t an issue that is exclusive to rape.
Paedophilia, racism, suicide, mental illness, abuse etc. None of these things are funny. There are plenty of things out there that are. It’s not like you’re struggling for material, and if you are struggling to make people laugh so much so that you would go that low, rethink your comedic talents.
Trivialising any of these makes the victim feel isolated, an outsider. And if there is a perpetrator, it makes them feel like their actions are accepted.
So, think, before you make a joke.