Rape Jokes are no longer OK. Numerous feminist websites have taken on combatting comedians using rape jokes because it promotes rape culture. That’s pretty much fine; rape jokes probably shouldn’t be told. What’s odd about the rape-joke backlash is that it is a crusade against an invisible enemy. Besides Daniel Tosh, Seth Mcfarlane, and Tucker Max, who are all these comedians using the topic of rape in their acts?
You may know of comedians who argue that rape should be allowed in comedy, but that’s completely different than comedians actually mocking rape victims for cheap jokes. You may also know about some guy who has 400 followers on Twitter and totally makes fun of rape; that guy is just a bigot, not a comedian.
Rape really isn’t that funny. Even if making rape jokes wouldn’t guarantee a social backlash, there just don’t seem too many people interested in joking about it.
In 2006, comedian Michael Richards used the “N-word” repeatedly in one of his acts. His career was ruined for it, and that was that. There were no calls of an epidemic of racist culture in comedy; Richards was not accused of pushing the white racial agenda in America, he was just an idiot who wasn’t that funny.
Racist jokes vastly outnumber rape jokes in comedy, and it’s not like race isn’t still a hot-button issue in America (just ask Paula Deen). A common defense of rape jokes is that it’s socially acceptable to joke about murder, suicide, etc; yet rape is forever and always off limits.
Even stranger is the more-recent modification of what makes a rape joke OK or not OK. This article spends 500 words explaining why a one-off joke in This is The End gets a pass for its content despite addressing the concept of rape. Alyssa Rosenberg thinks the joke was acceptable. What if she didn’t? Is the whole movie now ruined? What if people laughed at the joke? Should they feel bad?
Sometime in the past two years, the word “rape” became one of the most loaded words in the English language. It’s not like rape was ever a popular word or subject, but its use for any reason has suddenly become alarming and taboo. It’s still alright to say, for example, that a politician committed career suicide, or that one sports team brutally murdered another; but it is no longer acceptable to claim that something raped something else.
Nothing changed in the world to cause any of this. Rape is actually down 60% since 1993. Law & Order: SVU is still on the air. The only thing that has changed is that feminist websites have created an artificial war on rape, and anything they decide is related to it. Rape is bad and should be fought, that makes total sense. But this new war on rape jokes makes less sense both because the logistics behind it are unclear, and because no one seems to know who the enemy is.