Like all of you, I too am a part of many groups on whatsapp and the non- stop forwards and messages range from some rare brilliant ones like PG Wodehouse quotes to mostly hysterical Devi ma feet photos and the immensely irritating recent phenomenon of short moving gifs that you cannot stop !
Once in a while the jokes are a bit racist and sometimes sexist. How often can one respond/ retaliate/ inform??! It is difficult to be politically correct all the time for most people. So, sometimes I respond and sometimes I don’t. But this morning I received a cartoon on Whatsapp.
I decided that this was one of those which I was going to respond to. Besides the question of why is the speaker a duck and not a man, it seems to be part of a series called ‘Wear your Opinion’. It is worrying that whoever created this thinks it is funny but now that it is out there and doing the rounds, here is a 101 for anyone who thought this funny or maybe who did not even actually think about what it said and assumed it was funny.
1.Rape is not funny; not for women, not for men, and not for any gender identity in between. Laughing at rape jokes trivializes rape. Trivializing rape and joking about it gives power to rapists, and silences their victims. Rape is not like shopping with someone else’s money or having your purse robbed. Here is a sharp video from AiB, using sarcasm in the best possible way to make it clear who is responsible for rape.
2. Rape is sex you don’t agree to, including forcing a body part or object into your vagina, rectum (bottom), or mouth. Think of that for a moment and see if that still sounds like something funny. Rape is not about sex — it is an act of power by the rapist and it is always wrong. Rape is a crime. Read more here about Salman Khan’s crass comment:
3.A husband does not own his wife’s body. Even in a marriage No still means NO. If it doesn’t then it is marital rape. It is a testimony to the deep rooted patriarchal culture in India that women are still fighting to have marital rape recognized as a crime.
4. The joke reinforces a stereotype of women as non- earning female spouses who are busy ‘wasting’/ ‘robbing’ the male spouse’s hard earned money. Let us unpack this concept. To start with many women earn their own money and spend their own money. Sometimes even if they work the same number of hours as the men they may earn less money. This is gender discrimination.
5. Even if they earn the same amount of money, they are expected to also do the double / triple jobs of running the house and raising the children. This system is called Patriarchy. Women suffer in such a system due to their secondary status. Even if the woman were earning nothing at all and not working outside the house, the fact that the man is able to leave the house every day and work and earn because she chooses to or is forced to stay at home and run it and raise the kids, means that whatever he earns belongs to her as much as the children she raises belong to him. The fact that this needs to be said and contested in divorces is again due to the system called Patriarchy.
6. Rape has very serious consequences. Around 33% of people who have been raped have suicidal thoughts and around 13% of rape survivors will try to commit suicide. Jokes about rape create a culture in which rape is trivialized, rapists assume a social sanction to their heinous acts and raped persons suffer trauma when repeatedly faced with such jokes.
7. Sexist humor is not simply benign amusement. It can affect men’s perceptions of their immediate social surroundings and allow them to feel comfortable with behavioral expressions of sexism without the fear of disapproval of their peers,” said Thomas E. Ford, a faculty member in the psychology department at WCU. Think about that for a minute. Sexist jokes not only allow men (and sadly, women) to believe that sexist behaviour falls within the bounds of social acceptability, it also reveals people’s deep-rooted — and often undetected — prejudices about a woman’s place in our world.
8. Rape jokes dehumanize an experience that most women fear as one of the worst things that could possibly happen to them. When I travel alone, I often push the desk and chair against the door of the hotel room. Why do I do that?? When a woman goes to the airport at 2 am alone in a taxi we ask her to take a photo of the license plate and send it to someone. Why do we do that? When your teenage daughter is coming home late from class you tell her to be careful. Of what?
9. 99 times out of 100 it is a woman or a girl who is being raped by a man. So a rape joke is inevitably creating images and thoughts of women being assaulted by men. And making it sound casual. It is not. Rape is not a casual act. It is not a joke.
10. Rape is never a joke.