What made me stop telling rape jokes? I wish it had been what my sister told me, I wish I’d stopped that day instead of spending around a year loftily telling women why words couldn’t hurt them, that they should lighten up and that they didn’t get it. At first I felt I had to keep telling the jokes - had to! - simply because someone didn’t want me to. Otherwise I wasn’t being true to my art. It would be self-censorship. Comedians had to be free to say anything. Most importantly, how could I stay friends with the godawful, cowardly dickheads who told these jokes on a nightly basis if I turned around and said I wouldn’t? Sooner or later, though, I just couldn’t. Perhaps it was the jaw locking, knuckle clenching effect these jokes were having on the friends I brought along to shows. I’d sit next to them in the audience, see their discomfort, their disgust and realise I was doing the exact same thing up there, whether I knew it or not. Perhaps it was realising just how rarely rape is reported, and how making fun of it makes that less likely still. A lot of comedians say you can make a joke out of anything - and I believe that’s true. But when you joke about your grandfather’s cancer or the riots, it’s a public airing of laundry. It brings some collective fear out into the sunlight to be mocked and defanged. Perhaps I stopped because, in all but a few cases, joking about rape doesn’t do that. Instead, when we joke about someone else’s secret fear, it drives it deeper into the dark cracks of our national consciousness, only to be spoken of in brutal jest. Whatever the reason, I stopped.
(Source: fuckyeahfeminists, via terribletrivialities)