Dear Rape Jokes





Tess Tamar, Sidwell '18



An open letter to jokes about rape and sexual assault. (Published: 2018)





Dear Rape Jokes,

Knock Knock! Who’s there? Someone who values looking cool in front of friends by mocking other people’s suffering. Someone who doesn’t care about the consequences, because they don’t affect you. So why are you turning someone’s tragedy into a comedy? Why is it funny to make light of trauma, of helplessness, of oppression? If something is funny why does it keep me up at night? When I say such things, I am told I need to stop being so sensitive. Lighten up. It’s just a joke.

To put it simply, I’m terrified. You are created from my fears and although you may not be a crime, or even viewed as wrong by most people, you are an instrument of oppression. You’d say, “Oh, but in America, we have freedom of speech.” Yes, but we also have human decency, or at least, some of us do. I live in a world where people are not admonished for many of their wrongs. If the efforts to combat those wrongs don’t happen on a large scale, it clearly isn’t important, right? After all, I should lighten up. It’s just a joke.

So, why do I hear you calling out through the hallway followed by peals of laughter? Why do I see your face plastered on social media? Why does nobody call you out? Why don’t I call you out? Why do


"ALTHOUGH YOU MAY NOT BE A CRIME, OR EVEN VIEWED AS WRONG BY MOST PEOPLE, YOU ARE AN INSTRUMENT OF OPPRESSION. YOU’D SAY, ‘OH, BUT IN AMERICA, WE HAVE FREEDOM OF SPEECH.’ YES, BUT WE ALSO HAVE HUMAN DECENCY."


allies get attacked if they do point out the wrongs in your voice? Why do people watch in silence as someone brave enough to stand up is ridiculed and told to lighten up? Is it because they’re getting sensitive when really, it’s just a joke?

So, if I tell you, “No offense, but you just aren’t very funny,” you aren’t hurt, right? I mean, I told you not to be offended, so why don’t you “man up” and stop acting like a girl. After all, girls are too sensitive, they get upset when you make fun of dumb things like rape and abuse. Lighten up. It’s just a joke.

You are one of the reasons that it’s so hard for survivors of sexual abuse to stand up. Not only do they have to overcome trauma from the incident, but you make sure that even if they are heard, no one ever thinks rape is a serious issue. I mean, what if she was asking for it? What if her shirt showed off some shoulder? So what if she gets some unwanted attention? It’s a compliment. Shouldn’t she lighten up? But it’s not a joke.

So, I’m done listening to you. I’m done acting like you’re okay. I need to stop squirming uncomfortably and speak up, because I won’t lighten up. You are not a joke.

Sincerely,

Someone Who’s Done

Listening to Your Excuses

(a.k.a. Tess Tamar, SFS ‘18)