I am a feminist. Big whoop. If you believe that men and women should have equal social status, you’re one too (even if you aren’t admitting it to yourself). And, like most feminists, I virulently do NOT believe all men are rapists. Hell, I don’t even believe in gender roles.
But you know who does think all men are rapists? Rapists, that’s who.
Men who rape women are CONVINCED they are normal. They think this is how the world is, and should be. They think I do not have a right to refuse to have sex with them, and they think most other men view women this way too, deep down.
And here’s the other thing: You’ve probably hung out with a rapist. So have I.
This psychologist at University of Massachusetts Boston, David Lisak, does a lot of research on rapists. He gives anonymous surveys to men, and asks them if they’ve done things that fit the legal definition of rape without using the word “rape”. Like, “Have you ever had sexual intercourse with an adult when they didn’t want to because you used physical force [twisting their arm, holding them down, etc.] if they didn’t cooperate?” And men say yes. Men answer yes to these questions.
According to Lisak, 1 in 16 men attending college will answer “Yes” to these questions.
1 in 16 men in college, according to this highly respected psychologist, will admit on an anonymous survey that he’s raped someone. Actually, usually multiple someones.
That has a lot of implications for me, as a women. Namely, that in any given classroom or gathering on campus, there’s a statistically likely chance that I need to never be alone with at least one guy in that room.
That also has a lot of implications for men. Namely, that whenever you’re in a medium-to-large gathering of people, and you tell a rape joke, or someone else tells a rape joke and you laugh, there is an ACTUAL rapist in the room and he thinks that YOU ARE LIKE HIM.
Let me repeat: When non-rapist men tell, or laugh at, rape jokes, there is a statistically likely chance there’s a man around who actually IS a rapist, and you are making him feel /welcome/. You are letting him believe that you too think rape is not actually a serious crime, but something to joke about. That you too think abusing women and causing them pain is not actually repulsive and contemptible, but rather some kind of shenanigan.
You are making the rapists comfortable. (Not to mention the 1-out-if-every-5 women around who you just unpleasantly reminded of the rape they survived, and how little people care about it.) Way to be a decent human, bro.
So, seriously. Stop making rape jokes. It may be hard to notice from your position of privilege, but you are joking about something that actually has horrible negative impacts on the lives of those around you. You are taking our pain, and using it as your punch line. And, even beyond that, you are making actual rapists think that they are welcome, and you share their feelings, and they are normal. And every time they here that, they become more convinced that their views are right, and correct, and held by others. And they become more confident.
Why do you want to make rapists feel welcome around you? Why do you want to make them /more/ confident that their sexual violence is socially accepted? And why do you not even care about the actual hurt you can cause the people around you who are injured by what you joke about?
You don’t, right? Of course you don’t. So don’t tell rape jokes. Just don’t. And if someone else does, don’t laugh. Maybe even go out on a limb and tell the person who told the joke to shut the hell up. You’d make all the women around a lot more comfortable, and the rapists a lot less comfortable. And if you don’t want to do those two things, you might be a terrible person yourself.