‘Wanna hear a joke?’ (Trigger Warning – Sexual Assault)

post by Anonymous

“What’s the difference between football and rape? Women don’t like football” – Jimmy Carr, Comedian.

But it’s just a joke, right?

“Ninety-nine per cent of women kiss with their eyes closed, which is why it’s so difficult to identify a rapist” – Jimmy Carr, Comedian

A bit of ‘harmless’ fun.

The reality is that these ‘harmless’ jokes perpetuate society’s rape supportive attitudes. It trivialises rape to reinforce dangerous ideologies that normalises and diminishes violence towards women, and adheres to common rape myths that suggest female rape survivors ‘wanted it’, are to blame, and their credibility is questioned .

Jimmy Carr’s favoured comedy illustrates society’s pervasive rape culture discourse embodied in language, images, and phrases depicted across popular medias that endorse sexual assault. The subscription to these myths characterised by rape-supportive beliefs are constantly reflected in rape jokes that are centred around mocking the survivor, never the perpetrator. The blatant disregard of rapists within rape jokes exonerates and justifies their actions to condone violence against women. Ultimately, rape culture is maintaining a pattern of normalising, trivialising, naturalising, victim-blaming, and sexual objectification to frame rape as a standard condition in society, celebratory of male sexual conquest .

So if this is the case, where is the outrage, demand for public apology? Are these attitudes towards survivors so entrenched in our culture and laws that we can’t possibly bear to dispel rape myths in order to face realities? As to face reality would mean to accept that rape is not a stranger attack that happens in a dark alley to ‘promiscuous’ women, but usually committed by a person known to the survivor as an entirely unwelcome and unprovoked assault . It would require abandonment of narratives that safeguard society from the truth where the perpetrator is often propped up with their ‘promising futures’, sporting talents, privileged upbringing and excuse their ‘mistakes’, ‘cause you know, ‘boys will be boys’.

While society has always held a measure of underlying beliefs engrained in rape culture, modern forms of media perpetuate rape supportive attitudes and myths by ensuring material is readily available to form these opinions and jokes. Society’s behaviours, attitudes and responses to survivors, informed by the media, enable rape.

The danger here is that rape culture and its myths have immense power in the formation and professional implementation of laws, where perpetrators rarely have to own up to their crime, their behaviour is minimised, and there are altered perceptions of survivor credibility. The Crimes Act 1961 (Section 128) offers grey areas in which perpetrators and defence lawyers can control victim-blaming narratives in the court room . Furthermore, rape myths have infiltrated police conduct of rape cases where survivors have been questioned of clothing, alcohol consumption and suggestive behaviour .

Rape-supportive attitudes and thinking must be challenged as much as survivor’s credibility is attacked and are blamed for the perpetrators actions. In order to collectively address problematic societal attitudes and therefore endorse social change, the media must produce content that does not conform to biased notions and rape myths. The elimination of detrimental material that facilitates rape jokes allows for society to begin to understand that the real joke is our cultures disturbing attitudes towards rape, rapists and survivors, facilitating the enablement of rape.

 References

Baldwin-White, A., & Elias-Lambert, N. (2016). Rape myth acceptance among social work students. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 25(7), 702-720. doi:10.1080/10926771.2016.1190950

O’Neal, E.N. (2017). “Victim is not credible”: The influence of rape culture on police perceptions of sexual assault complainants. Justice Quarterly, 14(1), 1-34. doi: 10.1080/07418825.2017.1406977

Phillips, N. D. (2016). Beyond blurred lines: Rape culture in popular media. Maryland, USA: Rowman & Littlefield.

Sills, S., Pickens, C., Beach, K., Jones, L., Calder-Dawe, O., Benton-Greig, P., & Gavey, N. (2016). Rape culture and social media: Young critics and a feminist counterpublic. Feminist Media Studies16(6), 935-951. doi:10.1080/14680777.2015.1137962

Author: socialworknz

I'm a social work researcher in Aotearoa New Zealand

2 thoughts on “‘Wanna hear a joke?’ (Trigger Warning – Sexual Assault)”

  1. I thought this was a very prominent and powerful piece of writing ! The culture of rape is too prevalent in all societies and the glorification of rapist actions is disgusting and needs to change.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I too looked at sexual assault and rape culture as part of my blog post. I really liked your assessment and analysis of rape culture and I got a sense of the anger you feel – I feel it too. I hope you continue writing on this topic and continue to challenge rape culture. It’s a great area to campaign on for change.

    Liked by 1 person

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