I find a lot of things funny. People slipping in the snow is funny, David Baddiel is hilarious and you can give me a Kristin Wiig film any day of the week and I’ll be a happy girl. As someone who seems to be able to hold onto stress like it is going out of fashion I have also found a loyal number of friends who can be relied upon to tease me until I lighten up a bit.
Yet we have all found ourselves in situations where you have been at the pub or party and someone has said something downright offensive. Last year I remember sitting at the pub with the person I was seeing and some of their friends. I was nervous, meeting the friends is basically meeting the university family. In tinder terms we were getting married.
As the conversation moved from football to Tory politics (I know, I hate me too) I zoned out. Then, out of nowhere a quiffy boy at the end of the table, who up until this point had been very quiet, pipped up “It’s not rape if she secretly liked it” in reference to an ex-girlfriend. If looks could kill the world would be rid of one more ignorant misogynist.
The man child that I was with turned to me, evidently sensing that 100 years of feminism was about to hit his dipshit friend in the face, and whispered “be cool, be cool”.
Be cool with what?
With rape jokes?
With rape itself?
Oh you don’t think rape is funny either?
No, why would you? It is one of the most sickening things that someone can do to another human. It must be nice to be able to joke about sexual violence coming from a place where you will have never had to consider it a remote threat. Watch yourself, your privilege is showing.
Why does being the ‘cool’ girl mean being silent and not standing against something which not only, isn’t a joke it is a crime. I have listened to friends and acquaintances and strangers recount the details of harassment in work, being sexually assaulted and raped and do you know what it wasn’t? It wasn’t in the slightest bit funny. It was and still is heart-breaking.
Yes, have free speech and make jokes out of bad situations to lighten the mood. But just because you have the ability to make a joke doesn’t mean you should. It doesn’t make it right and know the consequences of reducing sexual violence for a cheap laugh.
In a report conducted by sociologist Heather Hlavka, it was revealed that many young women “regard sexual violence against them as normal.” The worst part about joking about rape and sexual assault is that there are serious consequences. Young men and women have killed themselves because of the aftermath of sexual abuse and rape. An estimated 33 percent of people who have been raped have suicidal thoughts and around 13 percent of rape victims will try to commit suicide.
Is that funny?
Across the globe, in the midst of #MeToo and #TimesUp the world seems to have started to wake up to the fact that it just isn’t acceptable anymore. I can’t imagine the bravery that it took for a group of women to come together to call out a very powerful man and an industry fraught with sexual harassment and misconduct on its bullshit. Society is slowly changing. But it starts in your local pub, in friendship groups and the way we talk to one another.
There are a lot of other things to laugh at in the world. Trump is in the White House for Christ sake. International Women’s Day reminds people so much of the awesome things women and girls are doing around the globe but also the threat that we are still under and the sacrifices that have been made along the way. Just because you can’t or refuse to fully comprehend that don’t cheapen it. Educate yourself. It isn’t our job to.