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Monday, June 20, 2011

Rape isn't funny. Please repost if so moved

Allow me to be that lady for bit. It's about a movie preview I saw yesterday for the movie Horrible Bosses*. The preview ends with a hilarious bit in which two men argue over which of them is more likely to be raped in prison - one of them is hurt that the other thinks he is more likely to be raped.
I'm feeling nauseated as a write this. Last year I wrote this post about how a lot of modern chick lit seems to sensationalize, romanticize, or otherwise trivialize sexual violence against women. But movies and TV do something that seems worse when it comes to sexual violence against men.
When men get raped, it's a punchline. If you saw the movie The Wedding Crashers, you may remember a scene in which Vince Vaughn's character is raped by a female character. I got that I was supposed to be laughing, but something must have been going over my head. A scene in which the gender roles were reversed would never make it into a comedy, and if it did, feminists would take to the streets. Where were us feminists when The Wedding Crashers was released? Or 40 Days, 40 Nights, in which Josh Hartnett's character must beg forgiveness from his current girlfriend after having been raped by his former girlfriend, which she seemed to think constituted cheating on her. Where were the voices of opponents of sexual violence? 
I think there's a temptation to say that it's only humor, that they're not actually condoning rape. And I can almost see it that way. Horrible Bosses is, after all, is a black comedy about murder. We joke about murder all the time; are we saying that rape is worse?

The thing is that everybody knows that murder is a serious crime. Everyone knows that if our loved one gets murdered, we can report that murder and the police will take us seriously, no one will mock us for it, and nobody will tell us we had it coming. Even if our loved one is a pretty bad person, most people will agree that they shouldn't have been murdered.
Rape victims, especially male rape victims, especially rape victims in custody (prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, etc.), have no such assurances. To joke about the crime is to further trivialize an already trivialized crime. To joke about the crime is to reinforce, to any past or future rape victim, the idea that what happened to them is inconsequential and they shouldn't report it.
With every joke about rape we laugh at, we become more convinced of the notion that rape is trivial. With every prison rape joke we laugh at, we become more convinced of the notion that prison rape is a trivial inevitability, and that the victims, by virtue of having committed a crime, are just getting what's coming to them.
Maybe you could consider re-posting this, or writing your own blog post on the subject. I think it's worthwhile just to ask people to think about the subject, in the hope they'll maybe see stuff a different way. It's not about shaming people into not joking, or making them stop, but about asking people to think before they joke or think before they laugh about the mentality this joke perpetuates. 
New Line contact info, for what it's worth:
New Line Cinema Corporation
4000 Warner Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91522
CA Tel. 818-954-6000

This is the part of the conversation where somebody always seems to bring up the First Amendment, and how the folks at New Line have the right to say whatever the hell they want. And they do. However, freedom of speech means you have the legal right to speak your mind without being penalized by the government. It doesn't mean I'm legally obligated not to disagree as loudly as I want to. It certainly doesn't mean that nobody else has the legal right to ask you to shut the hell up.

*I'm not linking to the trailer or info about the movie in question, because I don't want to give them publicity. 


Anonymous said...

I read a great many romance novels when I was 13 because I had seen a program on TV about how lucrative writing them could be. I stopped reading them because every one I read had at least one rape.

Around the same time I learned that in Arizona when a woman reported being raped it went down as a rape but when a man reported being raped it went down asan asault. This may seem unfair to men, however it turns out that an asault carries a higher penalty than a rape.

I think I want to throw up too.

Andrew said...

I love you, Brigid. Trans-rape blog post forthcoming?

Anonymous said...

I was with you until you used this phrase in an article condemning sexual violence:
"... that people who get indignant about this sort of thing have some kind of stick up their ass."

Brigid Daull Brockway said...

Thanks Anon, terrible choice of words! I got rid of it. I don't think the term has anything to do with sexual violence, but still.

Anonymous said...

I hope this is an active blog, because I somehow want to be heard... This issue lay close to my heart. My boyfriend went to a part nearly two years ago. He drank too much and passed out in a bedroom. Some girl managed to have rape his lifeless body, and went bragging about it. I just carry so much hate towards her. This is an unfair situation that me and my boyfriend have to suffer from this on our own, because no lawforcement will take us seriously. I hate our society, and it makes me so happy that people like you share our thoughts. Thank you for writing this blog.