Rape Is Never Funny
Yes I’m stating the obvious here, and one would think a statement like this should go without saying. But apparently I’m mistaken. I feel the need to say something, because apparently a lot of guys out there have no idea what constitutes a civilised society.
Surly Amy posted a piece at Skepchick with screenshots from a guy (he calls himself “Poppa”) who asked “Would it be immoral to rape a Skepchick?” In a related post about the same incident, Stephanie Zvan writes “Would It Be Immoral To Rape My Friends?” over at Freethought Blogs. After the initial shock subsided, and I grabbed my jaw off the floor, I asked myself “Why is stuff like this still happening?” I would have thought that humanity, at the beginning of the 21st century, would have worked past this kind of misogyny, but it appears we haven’t.
And the reasoning “Poppa” gives for wanting to rape these women? “…just because they are so annoying!”
I am not stupid, I’m sure this guy thinks he’s funny, and I’m sure he would counter this comment with “Oh come on, can’t you take a joke?” The problem here, “Poppa”, is that rape is never funny. You cannot make a context in which the sexual and physical freedoms of a women are taken away forcibly by another person is funny. It’s deplorable, and the fact that you have personally taken it upon yourself to make such a suggestion, even if it is in jest, shows that you have a lot of growing up to do.
Rape is a massive problem in the world. Some studies suggest up to one in four women are the victims of a sexual assault. Many women who have been the victim of rape do not report it, either out of fear of the rapist, out of shame, or out of a combination of other factors. Rape can destroy lives, and can lead to depression, substance abuse and suicide. In the United States alone, 90,427 rapes were reported in 2009. I’d say that counts it as a pretty serious problem, wouldn’t you?
But rape, threats of rape, jokes about rape and the like are not the root problem here. The roots of this kind of behavior comes from the deep-seeded misogynistic practices in the societies in which we live. Everything about being a woman is seen as secondary to that of men. These attitudes about women, though they appear to be hidden from the upper surfaces of society, are still there today. The attitudes come from religion (where for the most part women are not allowed to preach or in some cases even read the holy books), from business (where men hold all the positions of power in corporations), and in healthcare (where those in power wish to strip away a woman’s right to choose how her body is treated).
I have seen a lot of reports of rape and death threats within the atheist/skeptic community of late, but I’m not sure that the problem is actually getting worse. We are calling people out now when they do something that we disagree with, and maybe this problem is getting the attention it deserves, finally. But there is definitely a backlash coming from these communities, from men who don’t like to see their apparent power as a male being stripped away by women who are not afraid to call a misogynist a misogynist. Like cornered dogs, these men are coming forward with their rape and death threats, because they simply have no better response to being challenged by what they perceive to be a lesser human being. I know that the anonymity of the internet allows for trolls of all kinds, because they can get away scot-free. but the only way they can win in this battle is if we keep quiet about it. If enough voices come forward in support of women, we will see a change in the perception of women in society, and these kinds of threats will lessen, and eventually, hopefully, disappear altogether.
Now for a message to the guys out there, the ones laughing at the rape jokes, the ones who don’t care, or call any woman who challenges them a “fucking bitch”. You need to grow up. You need to open your eyes and see what damage your words and actions can do to others. You need to know you are from a dying breed, and you need to know that if I ever see someone treat a woman with anything less than decency and respect because she is a woman, I will not let it lie. The only thing awaiting people like you is ridicule, and this is because the way people like that see women is ridiculous. Maybe you’ll be man enough one day to stand up for, and beside our mothers, sisters, and daughters and help us all to build a better world.
It is not okay to joke about rape. The only joke here is people like “Poppa”.