Today I introduce a new category, “Outrage of the Week”, just so I am able to tell you about the nice young men who recently competed in the New Jersey King of Campus Comedy contest.
As reported in the Chronicle (Jan. 11, 2008 issue):
The competition’s most popular topic was, believe it or not, rape. The first comic told two rape jokes. Another said he could never be a rapist because he likes to sleep after sex. Yet another said he would call his victim the next morning because he’s such a nice guy.
Later one of the competitors began his act by promising the audience that he wouldn’t tell any rape jokes. He broke that promise two minutes later with a one-liner about using “ropes and formaldehyde” to solve his romantic problems.
Ha indeed. I guess I was just born without the “rape is soooo funny” gene. These fine, upstanding young men are attending college with our daughters, sisters, cousins, friends. I mean, I’ve always known that rape is a major issue on most college campuses. I just didn’t know it had become fashionable to make sport of it.
Now some of you are firing up your keyboards right this very minute to tell me to lighten up, get a sense of humor, stop being such a feminazi. One, I’ll just point out it was a man writing the Chronicle article who found this vein of humor offensive. Two, I’ll remind you that it is precisely because I do have a sense of what is humorous that I find this stuff not funny, but disturbing. If you think it’s funny, it’s because you think there is something inherently funny about men coercing and forcing women to have sex. You are okay with laughing about sexual violence.
If you are comfortable with the realization that you like laughing at women’s pain, then go ahead and laugh your head off. But do me a favor, and call me again sometime in the future after your sister or wife or mother or daughter gets raped, and tell me again how funny the rape jokes are.
Oh, wait, you don’t think a little forcible persuasion actually counts as rape? Well you are in good company; when I was a graduate student at Duke, a survey of undergraduate men showed that something like over twenty percent of them were A-OK with forcing a woman to have sex with them, if they thought they wouldn’t get caught. I’ll bet those guys would think these jokes are hilarious.
Unsurprisingly, the 5 women in the New Jersey competition did not lace their routines with rape jokes. Though we are told “one did sing a ditty about not wanting to be raped”.
The whole thing just makes me tired.
What do you want to bet that there are far, far more people who will be outraged by the news that Harvard has established 12 postdoctoral fellowships for women and minorities in chemistry and chemical biology, than there are who will be bothered by the notion of undergraduate men mocking rape victims?