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pissed off feminist fights back: against offensive humour

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**Trigger warning: discussion of rape, rape culture and assault**

Offensive humour: it almost always goes wrong, and it’s pretty obvious why. Most of the time it’s just not funny. Offensive humour is a way for people to justify saying things that are at the very least insensitive, and at worst are racist, sexist, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic, vilifying, ableist, triggering and do irrevocable damage. Don’t believe me? Let’s deconstruct a recent example.

The #FBrape Twitter campaign is one of my favourites because the object of its attack deserves it. Facebook SHOULD be in trouble for taking down pictures that celebrate women’s bodies, like images of vaginas, or photographs of a woman breastfeeding. One person reporting a picture doesn’t make it offensive. Semi-nudity and the human anatomy are not by definition “vulgar”. They shouldn’t be censored. Facebook SHOULD be in trouble for allowing images that harm women to stay up, images that normalise the use of violence against women. Facebook SHOULD be losing advertisers because of these kinds of images, pictures that actively promote rape culture.

There are hundreds of people who are reporting pages, only to be told that they have to report each individual photograph on a Facebook page that is dedicated to glorifying rape and rape culture. And then the pictures are never actually taken down because they don’t violate Facebook’s Terms of Use*. They’ll only take down images that promote hate speech and apparently traumatising an entire vulnerable gender doesn’t cut it. This is about a company that refuses to accept corporate responsibility for allowing a culture to thrive; a culture in which women’s bodies are treated as possessions, and women are robbed of their bodily autonomy, and young men are encouraged to mistreat and abuse women. These are young men (and sometimes young women) who don’t understand the devastating real-world impacts of disseminating images of women who dead, beaten, bloody, or have tape across their mouths, along with “witty” slogans about how you should rape her — she deserves it — and how she should be beaten. These events are not jokes. They don’t only happen on the other side of the world, in the Middle East or in Africa. They don’t only happen to celebrities like Rhianna. Women are still suffering, subjected to domestic abuse, to rape, to masculinised violence. Women in Australia have walked home from the pub, just like any other day, and been brutally raped and murdered. Women in their own homes are abused, women walk in constant fear that the next male stranger they meet may be the one that makes them into a statistic; 1/5 of Australian women are victims of sexual assault.

Repeating the oft-used phrase ‘Bitch, make me a sandwich’ doesn’t make you a clever kitten. You’re no poet. You’re no maverick. Your offensive slogans, rape jokes, and the incredibly graphic images you find online or post on Reddit do not make you some subversive force, telling it like it is, making a joke. What you’re doing is saying something that reaffirms that a woman’s position in society is still not where it ought to be. It’s still not up there with the big boys. It’s still not up on the boards of multinational companies or in Parliament, but rather in the kitchen, but rather as the plaything for ruthless men, men who still don’t recognise a woman’s independence and strength. Women are still not equal and still aren’t being treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve. By chuckling at an image of a woman being ‘taped and raped’, you’re effectively condoning a practice that subjugates women, that scars them emotionally, that will affect them their entire lives.

*Facebook has since amended its Terms of Use. You can read all about that here. — Ed.

One thought on “pissed off feminist fights back: against offensive humour

  1. “Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re in the right” -Ricky Gervais

    Did I miss the memo where jokes were no longer just that, and have actually become statements of intention?

    “By chuckling at an image of a woman being ‘taped and raped’, you’re effectively condoning a practice that subjugates women, that scars them emotionally, that will affect them their entire lives.”

    How do you draw the conclusion that just because I may chuckle at an image, I believe rape and/or abuse is okay?
    That’s a pretty gross generalisation, and lazy writing just so you can make the conclusion of your piece a bit more emotionally charged.

    You’ve got the blinders on and are only looking for, and commenting about the subjects that are relevant to your interests, which is understandable being that this is hosted on the website that it is, however, no gender/race/belief is safe, or free from ridicule on the internet. Stop acting like you’re the only ones being made fun of on the internet.

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