There are some things that happen to people that are so heinous that it’s not acceptable to joke about, unless the target of the joke is the perpetrator. Rape is not unique in this regard. Genocide and slavery are two other examples, and there are more.
Where rape differs from those examples, however, is that it happens every goddamned day. One in six women in the United States will be the victim of a sexual assault in her lifetime. The same cannot be said of genocide and slavery. Those experiences (especially for those of us in the West) are so remote and removed from our everyday lives that their jokes carry less bite.
A joke about the holocaust where the victims are the butt of the joke is classless and awful, but it’s very unlikely a holocaust survivor will be in the audience. Rape jokes (again, where the victim is the target) are different because, if there are more than six women in the audience, it is extremely likely you are joking about rape to a rape survivor. This can cause severe trauma and real harm, as well as simply being a terrible thing to do to another human.
Another way rape differs from those other examples is the extent to which it is accepted in our society. No one in the developed world will claim that slavery is a good thing. Everyone agrees that genocide is terrible. Jokes won’t change that. Jokes about genocide aren’t going to make people think it’s okay, and encourage them to try it. But rape is different. It doesn’t hold the same universally-reviled place in our society. It’s illegal, sure, and it is often used in TV and film as a plot device coded as a horrible thing to happen. But the fact is that rape culture is alive and well, and male entitlement to female bodies remains dangerously entrenched in our society.
Jokes about rape that skewer perpetrators or satirize the culture that allows rape can be funny and even helpful. But jokes that poke fun at victims and trivialize the experience, often referencing concepts like “asking for it” and “shouldn’t have dressed that way,” tend to normalize rape and send the signal that this behavior is legally prohibited but socially acceptable, in the same way that speeding or smoking marijuana is.
So, now that I’ve answered your question, I’d like you to answer mine: why is joking about rape so important to you? It is uncontested that these jokes badly hurt a large segment of the population that hears them, and some research suggests that by transmitting and normalizing rape culture, they encourage more assaults and less reporting. Why are you and so many others so hell-bent on defending something which causes so much harm and absolutely no benefit to anyone but rapists? No, I don’t really expect an answer, but I think this is something you seriously need to examine for yourself.
Actually, I think your response here requires some serious examination as well, though I’m going to put it under a cut, since I don’t want to assault my followers with yet another giant block of text.
The more i think about it, maybe it wasn’t Marc Bolan and my brother-in-law then passing on some Siouxsie records that was my gateway to Gothic rock. I was already interested in vampire and witchy-looking stuff as young as ten, and obsessed with the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer film and The Lost Boys through most of fifth and sixth grade, including the soundtrack to the latter, which I found on audio cassette for maybe 25¢ at a yard sale when we still lived in Toledo. I’ve also been a fan of Stevie Nicks since I was, like, five, and my mother was embarrassed that I liked post-Peter Green Fleetwood Mac, and would play the Rumours LP on a loop until she threatened to break it over my head.
I mean, aside from the fact that I tried to run away to live with The Munsters when I was five and loved the Beetlejuice cartoon, I think I was doomed from the start.