‘Rape Jokes’ Are Not Okay, Even If India Beats Pakistan

Time to re-evaluate your sense of humour.

2 min read

India defeated Pakistan at the Champions Trophy opener on 4 June, sending the Indian twittersphere into a meltdown. But amid the celebrations, the jokes, and the memes, lay these stomach-churning tweets:


How Many Times?

The casual use of the word ‘rape’ appears to have gained traction, rearing its ugly head every so often. The word is misused a synonym for ‘dominate, win, destroy’ – which says a lot about how women are perceived even today.

Sample this: Following Brazil’s loss to Germany in FIFA 2014, the hashtag #GermanyRapedBrazil made the rounds on Twitter.

The Club Of Big, Strong Men

This represents a recurring theme in the arena of sports rivalries – or for any competition at that. These degrading comparisons are so common that they have become predictable.

The arena of sports has traditionally been regarded as a preserve of the ‘masculine’. When using the term 'rape' as an analogy to describe defeat highlights how sportsmen are viewed today – to rape is seen as to be big, strong, masculine, tough, glorious.

What the ‘rape’ analogy represents is the current misogynistic set-up – where men often operate on the belief that they are superior to women, and therefore, can exercise their liberty to subjugate them. 

Hey Girl, Can’t You Take a Joke?

Any critique of rape jokes is often dismissed as a "lack of a sense of humour". But likening victory/triumph to rape and expecting it to be taken as a joke shows a twisted understanding of both rape and humour.

American comedian Daniel Tosh made a “rape joke” when an audience member allegedly “heckled” him – according to a report by The Huffington Post. He said:

Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl [referring to an audience member who “heckled” him about rape jokes not being funny earlier in his set] got raped by, like, five guys right now? Like right now?
Daniel Tosh, Comedian

Tosh’s response came via Twitter.

Does that sound like an apology? No.

There is nothing edgy about trivialising rape, particularly when it is done in a way that glorifies the ‘rapist’. How often have you been told “It’s just a joke; people need to lighten up.” or “I have the right to free speech!”

What This Really Implies

The ‘rape’ analogy is gradually becoming a tool for insulting people. This speaks volumes about the treatment of women in society.

Rape is the fourth-most common crime against women in India. According to the National Crime Records Bureau 2013 annual report, 24,923 rape cases were reported across India in 2012 alone. Despite a number of awareness programmes, a number of rape cases still go unreported.

These alarming statistics highlight the need to take acts of sexual violence seriously. Downplaying the effects of sexual violence by drawing casual comparisons to damage, or defeat, only perpetuates rape culture. It encourages the oppression of women.

It is time we reevaluate what qualifies as funny, and what as downright offensive in the context of women’s rights, because they are NOT up for debate.

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