Far From Funny 6/22/16

Laura Finley

Laura Finley

Rape is Rape, Nothing Else Is  – by Laura Finley

Let me begin with a simple declarative. Nothing, I repeat, nothing, is like being raped. Rape is a horrific invasion of the most sacred thing we have, our bodies. So, it infuriates me to hear celebrities and politicians minimize rape by equating their life experiences to being violently victimized, or by using their powerful public platform to blame victims.

In the latest in public figures who leak stupidity from their lips, Indian actor Salman Khan attempted to equate filming a difficult scene with being a victim of rape, professing that afterwards he “couldn’t walk.” Kanye West once compared the paparazzi following him and his family to being raped. Likewise, Charlize Theron, who has been a Stop Rape advocate for the UN, commented that having her privacy violated was tantamount to rape. Johnny Depp compared having to participate in photo shoots with fans to being raped, while Kristen Stewart likened fame in general to enduring sexual assault. And of course, there’s Donald Trump’s comment that China has been allowed to “rape our country.”

My least favorite comedian (unless you count the multiple rapist Bill Cosby as one still—I don’t and never have found him funny) Daniel Tosh, when called out by a female audience member for saying rape jokes are always funny, doubled-down to state “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by, like, five guys right now? Like right now?” Speaking of Cosby, Damon Ways attempted to defend the man from rape allegations by pronouncing some of the accusers as “unrapeable.” Then, of course, there’s Congressman Todd Akin, with the infamously moronic comment regarding rape and abortion: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down.” Not to be outdone, former North Carolina Republican Representative Henry Aldridge stated that when women are “truly” raped (note the heavy implication that women falsely claim they are sexually assaulted) “the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant.” Ron Paul similarly called it “honest rape.” Clearly none of these fools has read even a bit of literature on rape, or they’d know that false reports of rape are quite infrequent and occur no more often than do false reports of other crimes.

More rape myth spewage: In 1988, basketball coach Bobby Knight compared the stress of a game to rape, exclaiming ‘I think that if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.” Just two years later, former Texas Gubernatorial candidate Clayton Williams echoed that asinine tidbit. Many celebrities have also made jokes implying that drugging someone then having sex with them is completely acceptable. Such comments have come from a diverse array of celebrities, including Miley Cyrus, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug actor Martin Freeman, and Al Franken. Far from funny and definitely not clever, these remarks are definitely not going to help young men and women navigate sexual relationships.

Victim-blaming is a common trope as well. Whoopi Goldberg, Chrissie Hynde, Serena Williams, musician Cee Lo Green all sadly, and likely scores more, have blamed women’s clothing, drinking, or other so-called “inappropriate” behavior for their victimization. Commenting about Rihanna, Daily Mail columnist Liz Jones wrote that the artist had a “fashion sense on stage that surely invites rape at worst, disrespect at least.” When actor Shia LaBeouf said he had been raped years prior, pundit Piers Morgan thought he needed to weigh in, calling it, with no proof at all, “a load of baloney” and insisting that it insults other victims. Hmm. How about they get to decide if they’re insulted? And when did he become the rape truth-teller?

It pains me to review the frequency of these comments, some even issued by people I would generally have respected. While some did apologize afterwards, many used that insincere “I didn’t mean to offend anyone” garbage. Surely it can’t be that hard to avoid equating any minor life annoyance with being sexually assaulted. And time has more than come for people everywhere to withhold their personal diatribes about a victim’s personal appearance or behavior. Please. Enough, already.

Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.