Just how funny are rape jokes?
Rape jokes are not funny even by a long shot. You and I, the Twitter generation, the Facebook junkies, the educated, the literate, the mannerly, the opinionated, the ‘English speaking’, the empowered generation of today – we believe that we respect women and condemn rape by default and hence, making a casual remark on the subject or cracking a supposed joke to sound funny is OK. Well, guess what, it’s not!
A few days ago, a friend, in zest, forwarded this meme on a WhatsApp group. What followed was a heated argument where he defended himself by saying:
“It’s just a joke!”
“Go and blame the media that spreads the rape culture.”
“You are too sensitive.”
And lastly, when there was nothing left to say,
“You are taking this too seriously.”
Well, if you are cracking a joke about rape and trying to defend it with arguments like these, you definitely don’t understand how irresponsible you are being. And you have definitely never come across a rape victim in real life; but is that what it will take you to treat this issue with the sensitivity it deserves?
Coming to media spreading the rape culture, it’s debatable if media is the reflection of the society or if it influences the society it thrives on. I was recently flipping channels on TV when I caught this scene from Jolly LLB. The scene trivialises eve-teasing (and rape) when the actor says something to the effect of legal cases against an eve-teasing accused is the most trivial of cases. As a woman who has been eve-teased many times over on many occasions, this sounds very offensive to me. The scene merely makes eve-teasing an inevitable part of our society; something women better get used to living with.
This video clip is just one of the many that we can count; all trivialising sexual crimes against women. By no measure is eve teasing a petty issue. Eve teasing can be traumatic, it outrages a woman’s modesty and it is a violation of a woman’s body. Yes. Eve teasing. Leave alone rape. Supreme Court of India defines ‘outraging a woman’s modesty’ as mentioned in Section 354 as crimes against women that stop short of penetration, in which event it becomes rape.
You might never be a rapist or an eve-teaser or a sexual assaulter; but by simply trivialising the matter with your words, you contribute towards a society that is unsafe for your own wife, sister, mother, brother, daughter, son. Rape jokes simply reaffirm a rapist / potential rapist’s belief that it’s a normal act. It also attempts to drive home the point that sexual crimes are commonplace and will continue to be so.
As a nation, we are struggling with feeble safety measures for women, increasing sexual violence, growing fear and shocking cases of sex related crimes – the least we can do is be sensitive towards the subject. Before casually using the word ‘rape’ in any conversation, think twice.
Would you still make any careless joke or remark about rape if someone you love dearly had been raped? My guess is you would cringe at the thought.
This post was a small attempt at driving home a point about a sensitive matter that concerns all of us. While I was thinking of a suitable end to this post, Shoumie sent me this image that someone forwarded to her. She says the double smileys haunt her. I sign off disappointed, disheartened, speechless. Merely because there is someone sitting with a laptop making images like these and others who forward them around ‘casually’; because, hey, it’s just a joke.