I made a rape joke

I made a rape joke on twitter last week. I was having a rant about public transport – a trip that usually takes 40-50 minutes took two hours because the trains were shit – and I used the hashtags #fuckthisshit #fuckitintheearhole.

I thought “fuck it in the ear” was a fairly harmless, fairly amusing thing to say. But it’s a rape joke and that isn’t harmless or amusing. The idea that fucking something against its will – raping it – is a suitable punishment for wasting my time is part of rape culture. Rape culture is believing that a woman caused someone to rape her (either by being drunk, or by walking on the street, or by being so hot that he simply couldn’t control himself). It’s believing that rape victims must act a certain way, otherwise they’re just making it up. It’s about anti-rape strategies that tell women to take self-defence classes so they aren’t raped, but don’t tell men not to rape. It’s using the threat of being raped in jail to stop people committing crimes. It’s the MSM calling rape a “sex scandal”.

Rape culture is our culture. Yes, the term is confronting and I imagine that most people would immediately think, “no, our culture does not support rape”, but when you look at all the things that are involved, like those mentioned above, then it’s clearly our culture. I don’t know how anyone could argue that it isn’t.

(Shakesville has an excellent post on the things that make up rape culture, and I highly recommend checking it out.)

Now, I’m not interested in policing private conversations because fuck knows I say enough inappropriate, insensitive things when I’m with my friends. (I’m a loud, rude lush and I think it’s one of my finest qualities.) However, I said it in a public forum and if someone else had done that, I’d probably blog about what jokes like that actually mean. Which is why I’m blogging about how I’m a bit crap.

I’m not proud of that tweet. I’m even less proud that it took me a few days to realise what I’d done. I apologise to the people I offended. I should stick to jokes about how Velvet Elvis is a great name for a clitoral stimulator. The Velvet Elvis Mini Pro.

21 responses to “I made a rape joke

  1. Like you I’ve made similar comments in the past to people e.g: “you don’t always have to take it up the a$%@” if someone is being thoroughly taken advantage of etc. Since I assume that if I offended someone they would tell me I am going to say the same to you. I don’t take offence at what you wrote/said. Mind you I am from Paisley and even for those parts was often told off for my potty mouth. “I blame the parents” the teachers would mutter darkly.

    Funnily enough in Scotland you are more likely to offend someone by blaspheming than by a rape joke. Monty Python & the Holy Grail was denied certification when I were a lass. It’s probably still banned from cinemas back home. I shared an office as a trainee solicitor with a lawyer who was also a Baptist Minister. Swearie words didn’t bother him in the least but heaven forfend one let loose with ‘OMG’. He would get all stern and sad and ask you not to take the Lord’s name in vain.

    • After realising that I was part of the problem, I was then bothered that most people wouldn’t notice that it was a rape joke. Just like most people don’t realise that the “personal responsibility” line in assault is saying that the victim somehow caused the attack.

  2. Interesting piece. To me, the fact that you’re referring to an intangible concept rather than an individual, and to a form of sexual assault that’s somewhere between ridiculous and impossible even if you were referring to an individual, makes it different from, say, “fuck Tony Abbott in the arse”.

    I’m guilty of having used both forms in the past. You’ve definitely highlighted why I should stop using the latter, even for the most egregious homophobic scumbags: anal rape is very real and not at all funny. I’m less sure that I’m going to police myself so strictly on the subject of aural sex with metaphorical constructs.

    • It’s a good point because it is, as you say, ridiculous and impossible. But underlying it is the idea that rape is a good punishment for something that has pissed me off, and that’s what is bothering me. My (arrogant) hope is that by sharing this and explaining why it’s wrong, a few others will say “hey, I say shit like that too, so I’ll try not to in future”.

      Welcome to the News with Nipples.

  3. Here’s a different take: I wouldn’t have thought that “rape culture” would be purely about women. When shoesandyoga mentioned “take it up the a$%@” – as a man, my first thought would be about male rape in prisons… If we’re making a point about rape within this context, then we should probably do the incluisve thing and not limit it to women (though there’s no question that the female gender takes the majority percentage of victims of this crime).

    As for getting “f*cked in the ear”: well I just don’t know if that’s technically possible let alone something the rapist would be interested in. The ear canal is very small and not that deep. Excessive thrusting into this canal would most likely cause discomfort to the penetrating object. The more I think about it, that phrase if looked at literally, would involve a lot of effort and special positions for the rapist to juggle with very minimal gain. The opportunity cost for trying to perform such an act is not very economical and seems a very inefficient method of achieving whatever outcome they’re aiming for.

    Then again, if you look at it from a NON-literal perspective, it’s merely a figure of speech and such a absurd one that I don’t think one could get very upset by (unless you object specifically to the work “f*cked”).

    … Or you are a closet auriculophile.

    • You’re right – rape culture isn’t just about women, and I mentioned the jail rape point in my post.

      Dik, only you would know the word “auriculophile”.

    • outragedofmarrickville

      Sheesh. There’s always one man out there who in a conversation about rape bleats ‘what about the men!!’. Yes it happens and not just in the nick btw and women are anally raped too. But I forgive you your obvious sentiment cos auriculophile is an excellent word AND you fathered my child.

  4. I’m with John B above – as a victim of assault I’m not looking at that tweet and twitching under my desk. (Of course it helps that you’re talking about public transport in Melbourne, and I wholeheartedly endorse your feelings if not your specific expression.)

    • Actually, it was about public transport in Sydney. I wish I lived in Melbourne…

      I’m sorry to hear that you have been assaulted. That is awful, and I hope you are ok now.

  5. I think it’s an interesting topic. Whilst I take no specific offense at what you wrote (tweeted? Hashtagged? Modern technology is killing me), I can see where you’re coming from with this.

    I find myself – entirely too often still – making judgment calls on women, and what they’re wearing, and whilst I’m able to catch it and police myself more often, I still cringe when I do it. It *is* our culture, you’re right, and one that’s hard to break even when you know this is the case.

    I think the only way through this is to keep recognising when we do it, and try to stop it.

    (Also, Adelaide’s transport is worse. We privatised and now busses don’t turn up, get lost, and tend to lose their shit when people suggest they’re going in the wrong direction. Never fear, we bought them GPS’s now…)

    • Yes! This is what I’m trying to say. That it’s about being aware of the things we say that may seem harmless but are actually part of a culture that does a lot of damage.

  6. I do love you and now I hate myself because I have said that on many occasions. I justified it as “OK” as the thing I was railing against would never have any ears, like a Thursday doesn’t have ears, and you can’t actually “fuck” a Thursday. Regardless, I now feel craptastic for doing it and will find more interesting ways to curse out Thursdays.

    • Miss_shiny, welcome! *thinks furiously for something witty to say to impress you*

      Since I got pulled up for using the word “lame” to call something pathetic, I’ve been thinking about the insults I use and what they actually mean. Yes, “fuck it in the earhole” is amusing and relatively harmless, but when I unpacked it, I saw that it was a rape joke. So, like you, I’ll just have to find more creative insults. Reckon that shouldn’t be too hard.

  7. Have been pondering this post for over a week. My initial reaction was to reject the idea of it being a rape joke as in our society using taboo words relating to sex or defecation is our way of swearing (same way the Dutch swear with diseases). Also I was probably feeling a little sensitive ’cause I say “Fuck this shit” – or whatever is annoying me – quite a bit. After a week of rolling the idea around in my head I’m a bit stunned to think I’ve been using this kind of language for over half my life and only now realised I’m using rape language as a means of expressing my anger at something. Yikes.

    • Yeah, that’s what happened to me. One I started thinking about it, I couldn’t unthink it. Sex is great fun with enthusiastic partner/s, so to fuck something as punishment can only mean to rape it. That’s why I had to blog about it, to say “hey, once we unpack this, look where we end up”.

  8. Craig Edwards

    I think we need to draw a distinction between the morality of a comment, and the morality of the person who makes the comment. From years of involvement in theatre and film when younger, I can certainly attest that sometimes (quite often, in fact) what you mean to convey is not what comes out – even when a writer has spent a year or so writing and re-writing that dialogue, and a director and bunch of actors have rehearsed the crap out of it and analysed the potential outcomes.

    Even at the level of professional art, sometimes things we intend as progressive come across as sexist, things we intend as condemnation of rape come across as eroticising it, and adlibs made in the heat of the moment for cheap laughs end up carrying implications that we never imagined when we said it.

    Don’t feel too bad about the tweet itself – you recognised the problematic aspect, apologised and that’s all that can be expected. The gap in communication between the speaker and recipient (or the ‘one and the other’ if we want to get pretentious about it) means that there’s a big difference between making an offensive comment, and being an offensive person.

  9. Good on you. This is how we change hearts and minds: by being brave and showing our humanity, warts and all. Thanks for this.

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