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  1. #1
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    Rape jokes taboo?

    I keep reading articles decrying jokes about rape as being misogynistic or ignorant and wanted to discuss it with an intelligent group. I couldn't find one so I'm discussing it here. (badumbum) It's a word used often in the context of gaming so perhaps the RPS community can speak from experience.

    This article argues that speaking lightheartedly about rape, even when using the word as a generic placeholder for something entirely unrelated, is harmful. It argues that to mention the word is to validate and encourage actual rapists that you approve of their crime and believe it's a socially acceptable behaviour.

    I believe this is BS.

    First, the word is used differently based on context. Like other antisocial behaviours, "rape" is often intended to mean other things like "defeat" or "surpass" - meanings that could be construed as related but are often not intended to mean the same thing as that actual, despicable act. Similarly, the words "fag" and "gay" are thrown around but are often intended to mean something other than their most accepted definitions.

    Second, replace the word "rape" with any other antisocial behaviour like "kill". To kill is no less deplorable than to rape, but how many times in a day do you hear someone shrug off a potentially threatening, incriminating sentence like "I'm gonna kill that guy for making me spill my coffee." Would it be prudent to suppress our speech so as not to offend anyone that has suffered any injustice? Where do we draw the line?

    Finally, rape is not always a man-on-woman offense. Women rape men. Women rape women. Men rape men. None of these is less awful than the other.

    In conclusion, I think that rape is a terrible thing that should never happen to anyone, and anyone who commits rape should be imprisoned and rehabilitated, but I still think this comic is funny. Naturally, my naive opinions are those of a 6-foot-tall man who has never been involved in anything resembling rape.

    What do you say? Is a call for censorship justified out of respect for victims, or would this add marbles to an already slippery slope?
    Last edited by djbriandamage; 11-07-2012 at 07:24 PM.

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus SirKicksalot's Avatar
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    Just to save someone else the work:

    George Carlin - Rape
    Dave Chappelle - Man Rape
    Louis CK Heckler scene (very much related to today's Internet shitstorm)

    People have the right to be offended by rape jokes. Problems arise when they demand everybody to stop making them.

  3. #3
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    We had this thread a while back, why don't you give it a read?

    See, the thing about the taboo around rape exists because of people's clinging on to the medieval era notion that rape was the worst thing that could happen to a woman. A woman who was a victim of rape would be treated as something broken and untouchable, someone who had had her purity taken from her and was somehow a lesser human being. The woman would ostracized and looked down upon throughout her life. And while may have stopped looking down on victims of rape we still consider talking about the act in any sense other than solemn and severe, as taboo.

    Personally, I don't find the lighthearted use of rape offensive. Yes, it is a deplorable crime to do so something like this but that doesn't make it any worse than non-penetrative sexual abuse, domestic violence or murder.

    Still, I respect other people's wishes who feel uncomfortable with the casual use of the word. And, yes, I didn't think anything was wrong with that comic.
    Last edited by Shane; 13-07-2012 at 11:22 AM.

  4. #4
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Tritagonist's Avatar
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    I think you'll find a lot of similar issues discussed in this thread about a BBC article a few weeks ago: BBC article discusses sexual harassment against women in the video gaming community.

    As for the article you linked to, I'm not sure if telling your readers that because they don't go out of their way to rebuke every joke that refers to rape they are in fact 'rapist comrades' is a the way you'd want to make a point.
    "He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to
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  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    There is no subject that cannot be joked about. In fact, humor is a common way to deal with trauma.

    But where the disconnect comes from is when the rapport between the joker and the jokee is cut: i.e. if the jokee doesn't think they're on the same page as the joker. We trust the comedian is a decent person, who is giving us social commentary in a format that takes the edge off. If we cannot assume the comedian is a decent person, it ceases being funny and starts being cruel.*

    As such, the whole internet showdown vis-a-vis misogynistic jokes (tits or gtfo, get back in the kitchen, get raped) is because people (rightly) can't assume those making the jokes aren't in some way a little misogynistic. When you have gamers who harass girls in real life to the point of driving them off, when you have entire companies who won't hire women because they'd "distract" male employees, when you have an industry whose idea of "good female role model" is to make the sex object snarky... there's a disconnect. So it isn't the rape jokes per se so much as it's the attitudes of the people making them.

    *consequently, this is why I think there are so few Republican comics: They're legitimately hateful to begin with, so it's exceedingly hard to laugh with them.
    Last edited by Nalano; 11-07-2012 at 09:07 PM.
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  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    I'll be honest, I don't really know if offensive things need an official hierarchy, but I don't find the jokes appropriate, so for me they are taboo. And I prefer the company of people who find it taboo as well. Really, if you are going to try to be funny there are so many better ways to do it.
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    when you have an industry whose idea of "good female role model" is to make the sex object snarky... there's a disconnect.
    I really like this comment. Maybe, insofar as "gamer culture" is concerned, the developers need to be the ones to give its customers a push toward the high ground. Bulletstorm 2 with tophats and manners.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    I'll be honest, I don't really know if offensive things need an official hierarchy, but I don't find the jokes appropriate, so for me they are taboo. And I prefer the company of people who find it taboo as well. Really, if you are going to try to be funny there are so many better ways to do it.
    This is a very good point as well. It seems to me a more likely route of satisfaction would be to keep better company rather than fire a scattershot of curtsies into the whole internet. Live and let live, but if you're going to live like a pig then please continue living over there in the mud puddle.

  9. #9
    Obscure Node Fishy's Avatar
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    There's a difference between making a joke about something, and using something irreverently. I think that a lot of the arguments made against using the word 'rape' are not about the fact that jokes are made *about* rape, but that 'rape' is used as such a throw-away term when people are trying to be funny.

    I would argue that nothing should be completely off topic for humor, any more than anything should be off topic for any conversation. But I would say that there are things that we should not desecrate needlessly.

    To use the common derogatory usage of the word 'gay' as en example; it's fine to make a joke based around 'gayness', but using 'gay' just as a punchline to mean something bad, is harmfully denigrating the word and those things associated with it.

    It's not often I see someone make a joke that is genuinely about rape (as opposed to just using the word rape in a humorous way). I would defend the former, and whilst I wouldn't always take offence at the latter, I do appreciate why a lot of people would, and would refrain from using it. Not just because I don't want to offend people, but because I believe it can be genuinely harmful to trivialise these things through our language.

    So to address the original poster, who heard that discussion of rape was harmful "
    even when using the word as a generic placeholder for something entirely unrelated", well actually that's exactly why it is harmful.
    You wouldn't throw around genocide as a punchline if one had happened next door, so be sensitive to the fact that rape is actually a very common occurrence, and lots of your potential audience has probably had a close encounter with it.
    Last edited by Fishy; 11-07-2012 at 09:57 PM.

  10. #10
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    Something I don't understand about rapists is, why don't they ever ask first? You always hear about someone jumping out from behind a car, or pulling a gun. Even if you only have a 1% chance that she will say yes, it only takes a couple seconds, and if you have already made up your mind to rape someone, you literally have nothing to lose. If you're not a rapist and you ask a girl if she wants to hook up, you can be rejected, and then you are going home alone. But if you're a rapist, this is literally the worst way the conversation can go:

    "Want to have sex?"
    "Ew, no!"
    "Too bad."
    "What were we talking about? Pegasuses, pegasii, that's horses with wings. This motherf*cker got a sword that talks to him. Motherf*cker live in places that don't exist, it comes with a map. My God."

  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djbriandamage View Post
    This is a very good point as well. It seems to me a more likely route of satisfaction would be to keep better company rather than fire a scattershot of curtsies into the whole internet. Live and let live, but if you're going to live like a pig then please continue living over there in the mud puddle.
    I don't appreciate the insinuation that because I swear like a fucking sailor, that I belong in the dung heap with fourth reichers and wifebeaters.
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  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    I don't appreciate the insinuation that because I swear like a fucking sailor, that I belong in the dung heap with fourth reichers and wifebeaters.
    Swearing is absolutely fine if your company accepts it, but not fine for the faculty at my sons school.. for example.
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
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  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    Swearing is absolutely fine if your company accepts it, but not fine for the faculty at my sons school.. for example.
    Which is kinda funny, because the students at my school are worse than the teachers. From the mouths of babes.

    Either way, you're missing the (fucking) point: Words != attitude. I can be extraordinarily crude without being hurtful. Conversely, I can be extremely hurtful while being perfectly PG with my language.

    I kinda laugh at the people who say you shouldn't say this or that in front of the little ones, because (a) they're gonna hear it sooner or later, so it might as well be from you and (b) likelier is the case that you're not so much hiding it from them as you're hiding your ignorance of what they already know from yourself.
    Last edited by Nalano; 11-07-2012 at 10:03 PM.
    Nalano H. Wildmoon
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  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    Which is kinda funny, because the students at my school are worse than the teachers.
    No... I wasn't saying teachers shouldn't swear, I'm saying the hammer of judgement will drop on anyone who swears in-front of it... But yeah, employee's tend not to swear, as their boss will be more strict than they are allowed to be with the children.
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
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  15. #15
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    No... I wasn't saying teachers shouldn't swear, I'm saying the hammer of judgement will drop on anyone who swears in-front of it... But yeah, employee's tend not to swear, as their boss will be more strict than they are allowed to be with the children.
    You've lost me, because it kinda sounds like you're speaking from both sides of your mouth here.
    Nalano H. Wildmoon
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  16. #16
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    You've lost me, because it kinda sounds like you're speaking from both sides of your mouth here.
    Like I'm lying? Let me try again

    Erm... I was trying to suggest that if my son swore at school he would be in trouble by "but not fine for the faculty at my sons school.. for example."
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
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  17. #17
    Obscure Node Fishy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    Either way, you're missing the (fucking) point: Words != attitude. I can be extraordinarily crude without being hurtful. Conversely, I can be extremely hurtful while being perfectly PG with my language.
    I would hazard a bet that if you spent all day trivialising rape to a bunch of schoolkids ("I completely raped her", "Aww, I just got totally raped", "Can't wait to go and rape someone") that the kids would have a very different attitude to rape than if you hadn't.

    I'm not saying that they would misunderstand your intentions. I think it would be obvious to all of them that you didn't actually mean 'rape' when you said 'rape'. But I think it would change how rape was perceived by these kids drastically.

    It doesn't matter if your language is not intended to be hurtful. Communication is a two-way street, and you must take into account how your communication will be received.

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    Like I'm lying? Let me try again

    Erm... I was trying to suggest that if my son swore at school he would be in trouble by "but not fine for the faculty at my sons school.. for example."
    You love to torture phrasing, don't you? (oh, am I trivializing torture, Fishy?)

    Are you saying that your son would get in trouble not because there are stated rules against students using curse words but because the faculty are held by stated rules against curse words, and as such the faculty would take umbrage at the double standard?

    Because this sort of unwritten byzantine nonsense is worse than cursing.
    Last edited by Nalano; 11-07-2012 at 10:14 PM.
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  19. #19
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    You love to torture phrasing, don't you? (oh, am I trivializing torture, Fishy?)

    Are you saying that your son would get in trouble not because there are stated rules against students using curse words but because the faculty are held by stated rules against curse words, and as such the faculty would take umbrage at the double standard?

    Because this sort of unwritten byzantine nonsense is worse than cursing.
    Wut... wait.. youv'e confuses me now.

    I was stating simply and only that swearing is fine sometimes, and that if my son swore at school he would get in trouble... That was it, I feel like you are having this conversation by yourself.
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
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  20. #20
    Obscure Node Fishy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    You love to torture phrasing, don't you? (oh, am I trivializing torture, Fishy?)
    Hah, well said. I would have to say no though, obviously, as that is a legitimate meaning of the word torture.

    How about if I said you're just acting like a total 'black person'. And by that I mean 'rubbish'. And by that I seem to be implying that black people are rubbish. Whoops! Or is it whoops?

    It's almost like talking about rape as if it's something that's fun to do to people. Like it's 'winning' when you rape someone.

    But maybe it's OK to just call someone 'gay' when you hate them, like that explains everything you need to know about the word.

    TLDR: I just totally raped you (and by that I mean I won, cos that's what raping is. Right? I must remember that next time I'm losing an argument with my girlfriend.

    Ps. This is all rhetoric. I don't mean anything bad. I like you! :)

    Last edited by Fishy; 11-07-2012 at 10:21 PM.

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