This post began with some blowback on a comic drawn by The Oatmeal, which he subsequently edited after the most humorless fucks in the world reacted to his inclusion of a rape joke. The now-edited comic can be found here. I won’t post the comic out of respect for the artist, but you can hunt it down if it’s really killing you to see something that’s at best marginally funny.
Before I go any further though, let me state what should be obvious to anyone who can tell the difference between rape and a rape joke. Rape is a bad thing. It’s a violation of an individual’s life and liberty. There is nothing good about real rape. And before you start going ape shit over the use of the term “real”, any situation where someone is sexually penetrated against their will (through force, coercion, or drugs) is rape. Okay? Now, on to the point.
As unfunny as rape is, a rape joke can be as funny as shit in the right situation. For example:
“It’s not rape if you yell ‘surprise!’ first.”
Dropped at the right moment, hilarity ensues, mainly because in the real world, it’s utterly absurd (and factually inaccurate). But that’s the point. It’s supposed to challenge you to think about things you may not usually consider, like judging the diving technique of the people that leaped to their death from the World Trade Center (I came up with this one while writing the post). An unfunny situation that is seared into my brain. But if you’ve blacked that out and 9/11 is just a vague memory, that extremely tasteless image brings it back in an intense way. As does any joke you follow up with the “too soon?” question.
Rape is the same thing. I would never advocate telling rape jokes to someone in an emergency room with torn clothes and going through the further indignity of the rape kit so maybe there can be a bit of justice, which will never be enough because we don’t come near treating rape like we should as a crime. Nor would I think making light of a real situation, especially when it’s in its most raw form.
But for (consensual) fuck’s sake, folks, NOTHING should be so sacred that any casual and tasteless joke (the “victim” of the “rape” in The Oatmeal’s cartoon was the F5 key on his keyboard) needs to be torn asunder. There may be excesses that provoke discussion (the verbal raping of Daniel Tosh for his rape jokes comes to mind), but would we even be discussing the real crime of rape if dicks in comedy clubs and comics and blogs weren’t making a joke from something that some people find disturbing? Would your issue ever really see the light of day other than in some melodramatic way that only interests the people who want to feel they’ve contributed to highlighting the horrors of rape?
What’s going to turn more heads: a long and boring report about a crazy raghead country where they rape and marry off 9-year-olds and shit, or some asshat making a joke about said atrocity that then gets people looking at the facts?
Humor is a way that we deal with many things that are too difficult to treat in a fully serious way (oh the jokes I cracked when my father died; he would have been proud and laughing if he weren’t in a box), because otherwise we’d be pulling the trigger and seeing what kinds of patters our brains leave on the walls. Now, does a casual reference like that to suicide immediately make people jump on that person for making light of a serious subject? Generally, no.
But since rape is one of those crimes that women like to think that they own (yes, men can be raped too (except me, since you can’t rape the willing)) alongside things like domestic violence (don’t try to own that, ladies, or I WILL verbally hand you your ass), and it’s used as a symbol of male domination (which it too often is in those ass-backwards 9-year-old rape-and-marry countries), any joke requires an immediate intolerant response.
So in the end, while I understand why The Oatmeal kowtowed to overly sensitive douchenozzles (I was going to use the term “cunts”, but since it’s probably all women, my use of that term would probably be construed incorrectly (like this aside will be)). But when you are dedicated to the idea of freely exchanged ideas (no matter how offensive), the obsession of some with “protecting” some material or another from tasteless and insensitive jokes is an attack on this idea. It demonizes and destroys people who would otherwise have sympathy for your cause. And it only serves to foster hatred on both sides, and less understanding of the nuances of the real situation.
Now for those of you who are now ready to angrily comment, I’m not going to wish that you get raped after venting your spleens (because even I won’t cross that line). Instead, I give you a video of two dogs humping. Because that’s always entertaining to watch.