Rape Culture Is Not A Joke
When a DJ makes a casual date rape joke, that is not okay. Perpetuating rape culture is NOT just the way things are.
The other day I had first-hand proof we’re living in a rape culture.
I went out the other night to have fun with my friends and, as luck would have it, there was a cheesy music night at a nearby club. Sorted. The crowd was pleasant, the drinks were cheap and the music was… well, it was tragic but in an amazing way. Think Boyzone. Think NSYNC. Think Wheatus and Fountains Of Wayne and McFly. The DJ had provided everything we needed to have a squiffy knees up and I had an overwhelming feeling of benevolence towards him for it.
Until, of course, he put on Dirty Dancing’s ‘I Had The time Of My Life’.
No, I don’t mind the song. The song is… it’s fine. It’s a fine song. But, when it came to the traditional “lift Baby over your head” move, the DJ shouted out: “C’mon guys, lift her over your head! Don’t worry about dropping her – if you do, she’ll land on her head and you’ll benefit in the end. Cheaper than rohypnol, right?”
Yeah, the DJ just made a date rape joke. In a club. Over the loudspeaker. And, all around me, people were laughing. So, egged on by his success, the DJ continued with his apparently hilarious date rape jokes: “She can’t say no when she’s unconscious, can she? It’s probably the only way some of you guys will get laid tonight.”
No. No. No. There is no way on earth that this could be considered funny or cool. It is what it is; a person publicly trivialising date rape. And it’s situations such as these that make sexual violence an coercion seem so normal that people believe that rape is inevitable. Rather than viewing the culture of rape as a problem to change, people in a rape culture think about the persistence of rape as “just the way things are.” Or something to laugh about on the dance floor.
But you know what’s worse than a DJ making jokes about date rape via the loudspeaker in a club? Pointing out how horrifically inappropriate it is to the people and hearing them respond: “Lighten up, it was just a joke.”
Rape is never a joke. And it doesn’t matter how funny you try and make it, or how over-sensitive you paint me out as being, I will never ever laugh at anyone as they point out the “hilarity” of sexual violence. Laughing at jokes which try to naturalise rape suggest that, in some small way, I condone it. And what kind of a monster would I be if I did that? I found the people I was with, said my goodbyes and left the club.
Are you perpetuating rape culture?
I know what kind of a person I am. I know my views on rape. But what kind of a person are you? Here’s a few questions for you to cast your eye over:
- If a girl complains about being catcalled on the street because it makes her uncomfortable, do you tell her to just take a compliment?
- If a DJ cracks a joke about knocking a girl out because it’s cheaper than buying rohypnol, do you laugh?
- If someone is physically forced by their partner to have sex, would you see it as not rape?
- If a girl has one too many drinks at a party and is taken advantage of, do you think it’s partly her fault?
- If you see a girl walking down the street late at night in a mini skirt or cleavage enhancing outfit, do you think she’s “asking for it”?
- Do you think digital and penile rape are different and, therefore, deserve different punishments?
- Do you support the invention of rape-proof underwear (genuinely a thing)?
- Do you assume that men are never victims of sexual harassment or assault?
If you answered yes to any of the above, then congratulations – you’re perpetuating rape culture. It’s not up to potential victims to prevent themselves from being raped. It’s not a matter of who’s drunk and who’s sober. It’s not a matter of what the person was wearing. It’s not a matter of what type of rape it was (hint: there’s only one kind, guys – it’s rape). And it’s not enough for you to just say that you think rape is a terrible crime, or to jump on the Twitter bandwagon and start making holier-than-thou comments about how rape should never be condoned. It’s about redressing your perspective and becoming aware of what rape culture truly is – and how best to put an end to it.
A good way to start? By realising rape jokes aren’t funny. Ever.
You may want to finish off by reading Mookychick’s advice for UK violent assault victims.