Nothing to joke about

Editor’s note: While The Southerner does not typically publish anonymous articles, we felt that the personal nature of some of the information revealed in this article merited an exception to our byline policy. The views expressed here are those of the writer.

If you have ever been on Twitter, you have probably seen the so-called “Culture War” between Social Justice Warriors (SJW’s) and the Truth Tellers. It usually goes something like this: A celebrity says something offensive, SJW’s get outraged, and the Truth Tellers get upset that people are offended. This conflict is usually framed as a battle between easily-triggered Millennials allied with Gen-Z against Gen-X and their Millennial allies. I know they often seem ridiculous, but what if the problems SJW’s see are actual problems? SJW’s constantly battle sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, fascism, and ableism. Nevertheless, one huge issue that often gets lost under the rest is rape jokes. 

Just to establish my credentials on the subject, I’m a sexual assault survivor. Avoiding triggers is an everyday struggle with some days worse than others. 

When I watch comedy shows or read comedy on the internet, without fail, I find a rape joke. Then I go on Twitter, and I watch the Culture War unfold. I know people find them funny, but assaults are often the worst moments in someone’s life, and these jokes make light of their suffering. 

And this does not just exist on social media. Without a doubt, the worst moment of my entire school day before Covid-19 was my Spanish class, where one kid thought it was funny to talk about his lust for young girls. Like clockwork, it would be 15 minutes into the period; he would pronounce his pedophilic thoughts, the whole class would laugh, and I would hurriedly pack up my things and head for the Guidance Office. 

This is not a hyperbole—it happened everyday. 

This isn’t just “dark humor,” or, as my grandparents put it, “you just can’t take it when the heat is on you.” Rape jokes are wrong, not because we can’t take the heat, but because of the traumaitc memories they drudge up. When the aforementioned student made his jokes, I would be taken back to the moments of my assault. I could feel the calloused hand on my skin, the fear, disgust, confusion, and arousal. 

It’s terrible. There’s no other way to say it. 

Don’t misunderstand me. I am an advocate for all First Amendment rights, and I am a patriot. But more than that, I believe in human decency. I want my life and other survivor’s lives to be made a little easier. According to RAINN, every 73 seconds someone is assaulted, and every 9 minutes, that victim is a child. Therefore, this isn’t just a fringe issue. 

If you want to make someone’s life better, just don’t make rape jokes. It’s not that hard.