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Can rape be a LOL?

“I felt like Jodie Foster in The Accused” is how the line went. It was Wedding Crashers and Vince Vaughn made this rape joke after a young boy tried to assault him.

Funny? I laughed, really loud. Yet I am a gender activist and try to speak out on issues with regards to gender violence and harassment. So, does this make me hypocrite or just human with a cheeky sense of humour?

I recently attended a dinner party and I raised this very issue. Opinions were, as always, strong and divided.

At this point I’ll do a quick saucy sidebar and remind my readers that I do not shy away from being imperfect and admittedly do and say hypocritical things. I am human and try to learn from mistakes.

I recall hearing 5fm DJ Gareth Cliff making a joke on the radio many years ago about how he wished he was abused as a child so he could be rich like Oprah Winfrey. Again, funny! But oh so distasteful. I wasn’t sure whether to commend myself for recognising the tactlessness of the joke, or reprimanding myself for laughing at all.

Recently comedian Ricky Gervais made a rape joke on Twitter. His stance against criticism was that if you don’t like it, look away. This was a similar argument with regards to his atheism and the mass reactions against his statements on that. Quite the rape connoisseur, he also made this gaff at the Edinburgh festival this year with regards to a joke on drunk driving:

“I’ve done it once and I’m really ashamed of it. It was Christmas – I’d had a couple of drinks and I took the car out. But I learned my lesson. I nearly killed an old lady. In the end I didn’t kill her. In the end, I just raped her.”

Valid, or insensitive? Again, I’m in the middle. If I heard the joke, I’d probably laugh uncomfortably because this is my first reaction. Well, not that specific one cause it wasn’t very good. However, in hindsight (sometimes) I’d feel guilty and question myself and the situation. Exciting, right? I’m a real comedian in the making!!  My funny boner is raging.

I know that we have come a long way as a society (this is meant to be sarcastic for those of you not as finely attuned to this yet) with our notions of celebrity and what is decent or subtle. One could argue that I’m part of the problem with the photos I posted from my recent surgery. Although in my defense, there were worse pictures available.

Is it worth asking where to draw the line, or should there even be a line at all with these sensitive issues? Comedians are often seen as the jesters of society, saying the things that we are too scared to. Maybe we need them to highlight issues in a candid way so that we have a chance to discuss and debate, much like I am doing now.

 

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

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