Feministing posted about the opening skit of SNL’s season finale yesterday, and thank god they did because when I saw this sketch on Saturday I sat there thinking “I can’t be the only person who thinks this is totally not amusing.”
But yes, I feel like it needs to be pointed out that rape isn’t funny no matter who is getting raped or doing the raping. Joking about prison rape really negates the very real trauma people who are raped in prison experience and feel the repercussions of for the rest of their lives – like all rape victims. It delegitimizes the fight against sexual assault. When people rightfully denounce the deplorable actions of DSK and then turn around and joke about how hilarious it is to think about him being raped in prison, you lose the validity of your argument. You lose your audience who then go on to think that since it was so easy to mock the attack of someone else – however villainous he may in fact be - it’s actually not a huge deal, and hey, if you change your perspective, it can be kind of funny. It’s not hilarious when a sex worker is raped, it’s not hilarious when a girl someone thinks is wearing “slutty” (whatever the definition of that now is) clothes is raped, it’s not hilarious when an attacker is then raped him or herself. That kind of eye for an eye retribution should be long out of style. Let’s try to truncate the cycle of hate, not add to it even by jokingly assuming that it would be funny for an assaulter to know what it feels like.
I once saw a comedian who made a rape joke and was rightfully (but very mildly) booed by part of the audience. After her performance, someone tentatively brought up the fact that she had made light of a very serious, very traumatic issue. I myself had been concerned about the possibility of rape victims being in her audience, who may have relived the trauma and felt fear, anxiety, anger, and confusion rise in their gut as they recalled an assault they may have experienced, while the comedian on the stage just laughed it off. The comedian’s response was that she felt “everything should be able to be joked about,” that everything can be funny. Well, I obviously disagree; in that response there seems to be a lack of awareness, a lack of respect, a lack of empathy. I don’t think rape jokes are funny, because I don’t want anyone to think that I don’t take their experience seriously, and I don’t want them to think at all that any part of their attack could be seen as worthy of a snicker. I don’t think AIDS jokes are funny because most of the people I have worked with as an HIV/AIDS educator don’t find their painful condition very funny, nor the circumstances (cost of medication, treatment options, co-morbidities, shortened life span, loss of friends and family) very funny. If you’re a good comedian, a good writer, a good actor – you must be able to come up with material that doesn’t cover the grounds of assault, no?