Rape Jokes

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Rape Jokes

Panel 1

[Image] A woman with short brown hair, wearing glasses. She is facing the reader and smiling. She is holding an X-box controller in one hand, and a series of papers that look like character sheets in the other. Her T-Shirt has a sword on it.

[Caption] I’m a proud geek. I spend weekends playing Pathfinder and videogames. I love anything sci-fi and fantasy.

Panel 2

[Caption] I’m also a survivor of rape.

Panel 3

[Image] The woman, sitting across the table from a man. Cards on the table suggest they are playing a game.

[Caption] Unfortunately, most other geeks use “rape” as a joke/ expression.

Panel 4

[Image] The man, facing the reader. He is holding cards and smiling. Several cards remain on the table in front of him.

[Caption] It’s almost always guys

Man: I’m getting raped here!

Panel 5

[Image] The Man, still smiling and with his arms crossed, facing the woman, seen from the back. She is slumping in her chair and looking downward.

Woman: Please don’t use rape in that context…

Panel 6

[Caption] Rape is so fucked up, I wouldn’t even wish it on my rapist. It’s a word that instantly reminds me of what I went through. It’s a word that makes me sick and angry. It’s a word that affects so many people so deeply. * Using it as a joke trivializes what so many people live in fear of. So when I ask guys to stop, it should be easy, right?

*According to the CDC, it’s roughly 1 in 5 US women.

Panel 7

[Image] Closeup of the man, looking annoyed and frowning.

[Caption] No, they always argue.

Man: Wow, I didn’t mean anything by it. Why the overreacting?

Panel 8

[Image] The woman and man, in profile, sitting across the table from each other. She looks sad, and he has his arms crossed.

[Caption] And refuse to stop

Woman: Please just stop.
Man: No. It’s just a word and I can use it.

Panel 9

[Caption] They don’t seem to realize how ironic it is that they can’t take “stop” for an answer.

Panel 10

[Image] Closeup of the woman, looking sad and tired. She is facing the reader.

Woman: Look…I’m a rape survivor. It’s a soul crushing experience, and I live with PTSD because of it. And there are many, many people like me. Please stop using rape as a joke.

Panel 11

[Image] The woman and the man, in profile across the table from each other. She is looking at her cards. The man is looking at her, with a shocked expression on his face.

Woman [thought bubble]: Why do I have to share this painful part of my life with people I barely know, before they can take my simple request seriously?

Man: Oh….

Panel 12

[Image] The man, in closeup, looking angry. He is facing the reader.

[Caption] Usually it gets awkward and quiet. Some apologize. Some laugh it off. Others…

Man: What were you wearing? Were you drunk?

Panel 13

[Caption] Why don’t they have the decency to care when I tell them I find it offensive and hurtful? It just makes me feel like my experiences are not valid.

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Full story

I am a woman who is into the geekier pursuits. I spend most weekends playing Pathfinder with my group, for instance. And I love video games and just about anything sci-fi or fantasy.

Here’s my problem: I am also a survivor of an abusive relationship in which I was violently, sexually abused. Why are these two things related?

Well, one of the problems I have with most other people who are geeky like me is that they use rape as a joke. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve had to have the emotionally painful and awkward conversation of “Please don’t use rape as a joke.”

The most recent one I can remember was when I was playing Magic: the Gathering at my usual gaming shop and the guy (yes, it’s pretty much always guys. I can’t really remember any time when it’s been a woman making these jokes) said, “Man, I’m getting raped on my mana.” I asked him not to use rape in that context, and he – like most of the guys I talk to about this – argued that he “didn’t mean anything by it” and “it’s just a word.”

It’s not “just a word”. It’s a horrible, terrible thing that happens to people all over the world, and it’s not something I would wish on anyone (Not even the guy that raped me. That’s how bad and fucked up it is). It’s a word that instantly reminds me of what I went through, it’s a word that makes me sick and angry, and using it as a joke trivializes something that so many people live in fear of. So when I ask guys to stop using that word as a joke, it should be easy right? After all, it’s “just a word” for them. But no, they manage to make the situation even worse.

The worst part of all of this is that I have to usually argue for this simple request. Instead of having the common decency to stop doing something because someone says it offends them, guys will refuse to stop. They don’t seem to realize how ironic it is too, that they can’t take “stop” for an answer. They will insist on arguing that it’s okay to joke about rape. I often have to outright come out and say that I’m a rape survivor before they’ll stop. I have to explain that it’s a soul crushing experience, that I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD because of it, that I have to have my friends read/watch/play things before I do because I need to be warned of potentially triggering things, and that there are many, many people like me.

How awful is that? There is so little empathy for survivors that guys refuse to consider how damaging that word is. It’s frustrating and it makes me angry that I have to share this sensitive and ugly part of my life with people I barely know, for them to take my request seriously.

Usually it gets very awkward and quiet after I explain why I don’t appreciate rape jokes. They don’t quite know what to say. Some apologize, others stay silent. Some just laugh it off.

The worst reactions are “what were you wearing?” and “were you drunk?”

It just…makes me feel like my experiences and my trauma are not valid.

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7 responses to “Rape Jokes”

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  1. Just Jen says: |
    October 27, 2014 at 11:38 am

    A while ago my now husband and I had a conversation about our sex lives and how sometimes he felt like he had “no choice” when it came to my sexual advances but to accept them or he was scared I might leave him because sex seemed so important to me. I too went through a relationship where I allowed my boyfriend to do things to me when I didn’t want it and how awful it felt… My (now) husband telling me that he felt he had “no choice” made me feel so sick inside. I felt like a monster. It took a lot of convincing for him to understand that I don’t want to do that to him, I don’t want to rape him, I won’t leave him if he doesn’t “put out.”
    We all have to remember that “no means no” and we have the right and OBLIGATION to say it when we don’t want to be on the other end of sexual advances.

  2. Tony says: |
    December 6, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    Reading this breaks my heart. I began reading about feminism a few years ago and embraced it. One of the things I quickly realized was that in the US, we live in a Rape Culture, where rape is dismissed, trivialized, treated as not that important. Once I educated myself further, I began paying attention to people saying they were “raped” and was horrified to find that people toss the word around haphazardly. Doing so diminishes what rape is–non consensual sex. The ATM cannot rape you. A restaurant that you feel overcharged you hasn’t raped you. Hearing people say crap like that is frustrating and I try to speak out against it when I hear it.

  3. Edek says: |
    December 16, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    As long as she never uses the word owned/pwned then I don’t see any contradiction to what she’s saying. A lot of our vernacular contains ‘blue’ language or words used out of context (i.e. something that is really cool, isn’t at a reduced temperature). It sucks that she is suffering from PTSD and I hope that she seeks/continues therapy so that she can deal with her own personal experiences.

    It sucks that some people are so attached to their egos, that they couldn’t give the courtesy of using different word selection.

    • Jonathan says: |
      January 6, 2015 at 12:42 am

      It’s not fair to imply that if she uses the word “pwned,” she is automatically being hypocritical. If she said it to you, it would legitimate to say that it upsets you, and to ask her, and perhaps if you told her not to say that to you and she argued with you it would be a contradiction. But people who do not have a perfect filter for everything that might offend someone (as distinguished from people who know something is offensive and say it anyway) are as deserving of compassion as anyone else.

      The word “rape” also has a much more problematic etymology in this context than the word “owned,” which comes to gaming from 1990s hacker slang about gaining administrative privileges on someone’s computer, and this etymology is completely obvious to anyone who uses it. The fact that “owned” in this context can be offensive to some people is an unfortunate coincidence, while the fact that “rape” entered gaming language is an obvious case of misogyny.

  4. Ariana says: |
    January 4, 2015 at 8:06 am

    I’m so sorry for this. For your experience. I truly hope for the best for you, and will share this in hopes that it will bring some awareness.
    Take care
    God bless

  5. Jonathan says: |
    January 6, 2015 at 1:18 am

    I’m so sorry about what you have been through. I wish you comfort and healing, and I hope that sharing this story helped you. One thing that is certain is that it will make a difference.

    I’m also a geek, of the male variety, and having been brought up well, I was shocked when I first started hearing rape jokes in university, but I never did get around to explaining to my friends why the tem “facebook rape” is not OK.

    Since starting my PhD I’ve only encountered this once in the real world (and I did confront the issue that time), but lately I’ve been playing a competitive online game where out of over 200 games, I’ve only ever heard 2 people I assumed to be female in voice chat, and I am sure that isn’t because they were only two. “Rape” is probably thrown around at least every two or three games. After a while I just got too sick of it to argue with these guys every time. This reminded me how selfish it is for me not to speak up. I won’t let it go unanswered again.

  6. Ann says: |
    November 17, 2021 at 7:32 pm

    I lost a friend for awhile when she trivialize rape. My first time was rape and even decades later it still affects me. My friend had rape fantasies. She even laughed at me. We have restarted our relationship but I will never feel safe again when it comes to that subject. Thank you for sharing this.

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