Around finals time here at U of M, you tend to hear a lot of rape jokes in the form of "that exam raped me," or "I raped that exam." To some people, saying things like that is No Big Deal. They don't really mean it. It's just a joke. But I'm not laughing, and neither are survivors. A "Words Matter" campaign by U of M's Expect Respect has signs up around campus that say "I was raped, and it was nothing like your Stats exam" in addition to posters about the word "gay," "ghetto" and other hurtful statements that we hear all too often.
We can explain how hearing these statements can be triggering to survivors, how they feed into a culture that minimizes and even condones rape. And we should. But there are other reasons to stop rape jokes. This blog post outlines another, very important reason to stop rape jokes. Psychological evidence shows that rapists tend to think other men are rapists, and when rape jokes go uncontested or are laughed at, this reaffirms their belief that what they are doing is normal and accepted, rather than a horrific and violent crime.
So please, don't make rape jokes and don't let them stand when you hear it.
-Emily, NPA Volunteer.