The Radigals Blog
Name: Radigals
Home: New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States
About Us: A pretty rad group of guys and gals dedicated to feminist activism, arts and crafts, community involvement, changing the world, and snacky treats.
See my complete profile
Previous Posts




  Sunday, July 26, 2009  
How to Confront Rape Jokes
In this article from Mother Jones magazine, Jen Philips responds to a co-worker's tweet on a rape joke. First, she lists the possible ways to confront a rape joke:
1. Keep quiet and feel uncomfortable.

2. Try to top the joke with a more offensive one.

3. Initiate a Very Serious Conversation in which you state rape is never funny.

4. Initiate a Very Serious Conversation II in which you disclose your own rape, and mention that you were definitely NOT laughing during it.

5. Talk outside the box. As in, "I knew this guy in college, and he totally got raped during rush and had to go to the doctor! He's in therapy now! It was hilarious!"

The author writes, "I always feel the strong obligation to confront the joke, wait a few seconds hoping someone else will do it for me, then finally give in and say something. None of the options above sound like much fun, but I guess if I had to pick one I'd do #5 because at least then you don't put yourself in the category of the patronizing mega-feminist as parodied in Away We Go."

There aren't many who feel comfortable and confident enough to initiate a serious conversation when in a joking atmosphere, and can also be okay with being labeled a "Debby Downer." One study in the article explains why we feel this, "'People have a general desire to be liked and to appear competent' but those who confront racism or sexism 'are generally neither well-liked nor perceived as competent. Instead, they are often disliked, viewed as troublemakers, or seen as having problematic personalities.'"

Furthermore, "as one study found, though many women say they'd confront sexist behavior, very few actually do. So just because other women don't say anything when they hear a rape joke, doesn't mean they condone it."

The author goes on to suggest education and not confrontation should be used to stop rape jokes. The author writes, "educating young men, jocks and frat boys especially, on male-on-male rape has been found to not only increase empathy and sensitivity toward female rape victims, but to actually increase willingness to confront their peers' behaviors."

As feminists, we try to confront, critique, and combat sexism, racism, and other types of derogatory language and behavior. But when we are outside the Women's studies classroom, our ideas can be found patronizing or be disregarded and mocked. If true, then how else can we stop apathetic and offensive attitudes towards rape, attitudes that can deter victims from seeking criminal prosecution because of a fear what happened to them won't be taken seriously by authorities either?

Where does feminism play a role in this and do we have to manage our feminist practices to best confront rape jokes? Can achieving feminist goals sometimes mean that we have to put feminism on the backburner?
posted by Suzan @ 9:04 PM  
  • At July 27, 2009 at 12:03 AM, Blogger honey b said…

    Yeah! It did piss me off how a wgs prof was portrayed in Away We Go...but, it was never really stated that she was a WGS prof, or a's just what jezebel told me...


Post a Comment

<< Home