“I Can Run Faster Horny Than You Can Scared”

*Unfortunately, this is a t-shirt being sold online

at http://www.betterthanpants.com/i-can-run-faster-horny-than-you-can-scared-shirt.html. And hurry to buy today! The site is having a 1 day only sale so you can pick this t-shirt up for $9.99!

RAPE JOKES ARE NEVER FUNNY.

Why does this need to be repeated? Does this need to be taught like a grade school lesson? Now I want you to write ten times: Rape jokes are never funny. Ok, begin.

1-Rape jokes are never funny.

2-Rape jokes are never funny.

3-Rape jokes are never funny.

4-Rape jokes are never funny.

5-Rape jokes are never funny.

6-Rape jokes are never funny.

7-Rape jokes are never funny.

8-Rape jokes are never funny.

9-Rape jokes are never funny.

10-Rape jokes are never funny.

 

 

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13 Comments

  1. Posted March 24, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    I think you’re letting the perp off easy.

    Saying “rape jokes are never funny” is a problem (because “funny” being a subjective word) is that it concerns a fairly general group of jokes not well-defined (do you just include jokes where rape is the punchline or also ones where it is a morbid detail for setting up the rest of the joke?), and you are doing it with the repetition of a phrase that some people regard as a cliche. Granted, you can’t solve the issue of humor being subjective, but you may have success if you shore up your argument elsewhere.

    I don’t really know the best way of going about this problem, but I will offer a hypothesis: the problem with this “joke” is that the punchline jokes about hurting undeserving targets, in a very visceral way, and in an impersonal way (it’s not aimed at a specific known target but at a whole class of people, most of whom the “joker” is not acquainted with). Comedians may get away with a quip about drowning a bag of kittens, but when they talk about mutilating them, they’re squarely in “not funny” territory. It may be possible to simplify or generalize this criteria a bit, but I think the combination I detailed above provides a compelling argument. If one agrees with the point made, then the argument boils down to the perp not appreciate how harmful rape is, or that the person is mainly just doing it for attention or profit.

    Given the latter possibility, another approach is to try to ignore the perp. There will always be hateful speech, so unless the person is at least remotely accountable to you (like leveraging a legal authority or a group with influence to respond), you may find it better to focus your energy on things you can control — if you draw attention to them, you either give them the attention they want or the free advertising they need. An alternative to denying power and influence to others is to empower someone you approve. Supporting someone does entail a degree of sacrifice (and often capital), but opposing someone takes time and effort in its own right and comes with fewer guarantees.

  2. Posted March 24, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    I think it is safe to say that Phaydra meant that rape is not something that should be joked about or even looked at or talked about with any sort of humor.
    Yes, what is deemed funny may be “subjective,” but really, I don’t think anyone needs a grammar lesson, legal lesson, or lecture on how to “better focus their energy” on the subject of rape. And I don’t care if “opposing” this comes with fewer guarantees — I don’t OPPOSE this to get something out of it. I OPPOSE it because I am offended by it and think it’s wrong.

    There is nothing, whatsoever, entertaining, funny, or humoring about this t-shirt or the subject matter at which it clearly “pokes fun” at. And I think a lot of rape victims would take issue with you saying that this “joke’s punchline” isn’t aimed toward a “specific target.” I think I can speak for a lot of women when I say that I feel this t-shirt was specifically aimed at me. I don’t care if the creator of this t-shirt knows me personally or not. I am personally offended by it. ALL women, ALL RAPE VICTIMS, and anyone who finds rape wrong would find this shirt offensive.

    I don’t care WHY the “perp” is doing it. And suggesting the ol’ stand by of “ignore it and it’ll go away” is not the tactic one should use when looking at something like this. If seeing something like this offends you and makes you want to speak out, then, by all means, you should speak out, and feel good that you did so. It’s not about whether or not the “perp” is “accountable” to me personally. It’s about being disgusted, offended, appalled, angered, etc. by the t-shirt and the message it sends and speaking out against it.

    SEVENTY-TWO people “liked” that t-shirt on facebook. WHAT is there to LIKE about it?

    • Posted March 25, 2011 at 5:47 am | Permalink

      The shirt’s message is terrible, and I have a hard time imagining a single commenter here disagreeing with that point.

      The issue that strikes me, though, is how do we effectively deal with these kinds of messages? (This topic may warrant its own post, but I had it piggyback the point about the choice of argument.) I am going to guess there are probably (at least) hundreds of shirt designs on the Internet that are either pro-rape or are at least glib about rape. In terms of media or other paraphernalia, you can probably find tens or hundreds of thousands of such items (if not more, depending on how far you are willing to look), not counting duplicates. This garbage is everywhere. I don’t think condemning one arbitrary example or even a thousand examples on a feminist blog (which is read by people who pretty much agree about the point) serves a practical purpose beyond raging about it and maybe educating people how pervasive the problem is.

      It’s not to say opposition cannot be practical, but it helps when you can leverage the seller to get them to stop. A while ago someone brought up a “dickwolves” scandal involving Penny Arcade this year (although it was pretty much after-the-fact by that time anyone posted it at Feministing), where they were making these kinds of jokes in their comics and on their website and even sold shirts in light of the ensuing controversy. After months of off-and-on confrontations, PA was eventually pressured to stop and remove the shirt from the store. But the reason such an effort to get them to stop made a difference is because a lot of people cared about Penny Arcade for reasons besides offensive content. That offensive content was getting in the way of their enjoyment of the site, whereas BTP exists only for the purpose of selling edgy/offensive shirts. In fact, this rape shirt is the tip of the iceberg. Another thing distinguishing the sites (besides their business model) is that Penny Arcade ranks #3,759 in traffic and BTP ranks #222,618. PA was actually known well-enough that critical coverage would most likely overwhelm any free advertising. BTP, not so much. To condemn this shirt from BTP is akin to condemning the Klan for being anti-semitic. You can do it, but to me it seems like a small thing to do.

      If you derive a certain relief from expressing your opposition, that’s great. If that’s important to you, then I certainly don’t want to deny you that. But my concern is that enormity of rape culture is lost when a fringe business gets this sort of attention when their raison d’être is to make offensive shirts.

      “I think I can speak for a lot of women when I say that I feel this t-shirt was specifically aimed at me.”

      That’s… about what I was trying to say. It’s attacking the group (and everyone in it) even without the attacker having direct knowledge of each person in it. It’s the same sort of justification for why “hate crimes” generally carry heavier sentences that crimes carried out against a targeted individual. The intent of the perp may be to attack the group, but the reality that it affects everyone in it (and the terrorism it entails) is why we take these crimes more seriously. I may not have articulated the point to your satisfaction, but I believe I was clear that this issue made the “joke” more unacceptable.

      I had two purposes in reframing the argument against the rape joke. One is to provide another way of thinking and talking about the issue so people not convinced by “rape jokes are offensive” can be reached in another way (which generally necessitates getting into greater detail, outlining points that are harder to debate). The second reason is that this example is bad even by rape joke standards. Just as not all rape is equal (statutory rape between a 19 year-old and a 16 year-old [which is not even regarded as rape in many states] is not the same thing as a father raping his own 4 year-old child), not all rape jokes are equal. The value in this point may not seem satisfying if all you care about is condemning the “joke,” but so much more could have been done. Just the fact that your reply acknowledges how someone wearing this shirt can threaten/intimidate so many people is an improvement.

      Personally, I’m surprised the tally is only 72. Given how much similarly-minded people tend to cluster together, I would have thought it would have spread through a chain/network of unabashed abusers.

  3. Posted March 25, 2011 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Honestly I kind of wish every asshole in the world who thinks that shirt is funny was required to wear it all day every day. It’d give me a really clear message about who to never, ever spend time with.

    • Posted March 25, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      I agree, though I’m afraid that this would be a hell of a lot more people than I would initially think. Which isn’t to say I don’t want to know so I can avoid them, it just makes me sad for society.

  4. Posted March 25, 2011 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Anyone else reminded of the old line, “I can run faster with my pants off than you can with your pants down?”

  5. Posted March 25, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    I want a shirt that says “I can stab & strike pressure points when I’m scared. Or even when I’m just annoyed”

    From time to time (usually through this site) my attention is called to some scumbag pile of dog excrement selling shirts like this on the web but I’ve never seen anyone wearing such a thing on the street. The closest it got was back in 93-94 when “Free Mike Tyson” shirts were popular (at the time he’d been convicted of rape). I suppose if I encountered anyone wearing this shirt I’d just treat them as a threat, taking the time to find out if they were “joking” or not may be precious seconds off my reaction speed.

  6. Posted March 25, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Matt:

    I get what you’re saying now. lol I may not totally agree with ALL of what you’re saying, but now that you’ve clarified a bit more, I understand what you’re speaking on.

    What exactly do you mean when you say “not all rape jokes are created equal?” I know that you gave an example of statutory rape and a father raping his 4-year-old child. I know rape, legally, isn’t treated equally, especially in regards to statutory rape, incest, molestation, etc., but really — all rape “jokes,” in my opinion, at least, are equally abhorrent.

    I would be just as offended by someone making a “joke” about rape that involves two “adults” as I would if someone made a “joke” about raping a child. In the eyes of the law, they may not be prosecuted or treated the same, but to me, they should be condemned and looked down upon with equal disgust.

    Also, I think if you greatly oppose something or support something, you should say it. I may not like someone who is racist, sexist, etc., but I DEFEND their right to say what they want. That is what free speech is all about — or at least the “rosy” version of it. lol

    I also think it’s important to speak up about something, even if nothing gets “accomplished.” If individuals didn’t speak out, even if they were told nothing would come of it, nothing would change. Yes, it would be nice to see shirts like that taken off the market, and if it did happen, I would be glad for it, but if it DOESN’T happen, it doesn’t make me any less inclined to let my distaste of such a shirt to be made known, even if it is only to bloggers.

    • Posted March 25, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      “I would be just as offended by someone making a “joke” about rape that involves two “adults” as I would if someone made a “joke” about raping a child. In the eyes of the law, they may not be prosecuted or treated the same, but to me, they should be condemned and looked down upon with equal disgust.”

      Thank you. I’ve always felt this way. When you try and bring it up outside a feminist discussion, however, people tend to act as if you’re saying that molestation isn’t so bad. Not at all. I’m saying that molestation is horrific, and rape of an adult is equally as horrific. I’ve never bought into that whole “children are special and deserve extra protection than other people” concept. Of course children should be protected from harm. So should other people. Turning 18 (at least in the U.S.) doesn’t make you suddenly able to handle everything in life on your own.

    • Posted March 26, 2011 at 5:36 am | Permalink

      Okay, TRIGGER WARNING. I mean, I’m going to add three more jokes that concern rape in some way, because they are relevant to the possibility that not jokes involving rape are the same. I am going to compare these examples against the one mentioned in the original post.

      First I’ll go with Penny Arcade (since it sort of completes the discussion from earlier): http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2010/8/11/

      Can this joke be considered less offensive than the one mentioned by this article? Well, the focus of the joke is that many MMORPGs give players quests where they often are asked to defeat [x] enemies or rescuing [y] characters, even when defeating or saving exactly that many has no grounding in Real Life behavior. If you are fighting an invading force, you don’t just defeat ten enemies — you keep fighting until all of them are stopped. You don’t just save five cursed spirits — you keep working until all of them are saved. With the nature of MMORPGs, the player sees that even after they have fulfilled their quota, there are still more to defeat/save (this is a side effect of allowing multiple players to play in the same area at a time while also completing quests at different times). For a player to ignore a continuing problem (particularly one that is nominally urgent or an emergency) and instead run off to do other quests places the character somewhere between a mercenary and a sociopath. The use of rape in this comic is not to comment on rape itself, but to provide an exaggeration that draws attention to how unrealistic these kinds of quotas can be. In Real Life, you would save every last slave.

      There was a lot of controversy about this strip. And yet I don’t think this example (by itself) rises to the level of the “joke” in the original post. Did the writers have to use “rape?” I doubt it. But the authors needed to use a crime horrible enough to get the attention of the readers but that could still leave survivors. Considering the terrible crimes from which the players are rescuing other characters (and how numb player are to most in-game crime, even murder), the artists’ options are surprisingly few. Nevertheless, the use of “rape” here is problematic, because the emotional jump for some people can be so strong that it gets in the way of the joke itself (the player’s lack of compassion as dictated by the game). It’s understandable and unfortunate at the same time. I see problems with it, but it I can’t write this strip off as “just” like the one in the original post.

      [Side note: Unfortunately at least one of these authors did end up behaving badly at times in the ensuing controversy, including mocking concerns about the comic strip and once ridiculing trigger warnings. Still, they aren't Republicans saying they are only cutting social programs to balance the budget (while at the same time planning future tax cuts and tax breaks) -- the original strip was intended to stand on its own, and so I treat it alone.]

      For my second example, I will take an excerpt from Bo Burnham’s New Math:

      “Squaring numbers are just like women – if they’re under 13, just do them in your head”

      Is that a rape joke? Yeah, I think so. The joke actually inverts the action of the punchline, saying you should NOT have sex against people who do not provide legal consent. And yet even with the element of pedophilia, I don’t have a problem with it.

      Finally, if you are not satisfied with that last one being a rape joke, then we can back to Bo one last time and take the ending from “Love is…”

      “And love is being the owner of the company that makes rape whistles.
      And even though you started with good intentions trying to reduce the rate of rape,
      now you don’t want to reduce it at all, ’cause if the rape rate declines, you’ll see an equal decline in whistle sales.
      Without rapists, who’s gonna buy your whistles?”

      The character is described as having a reason to be “pro-rape.” Obviously this one is not in “ha ha” territory. But then, it’s not supposed to be “ha ha” funny. Rather, it gives an excellent example of the perversity of industry, where actually providing a useful product or service would minimize profit. Why find a cure for a disease if you can find a treatment that you can sell for the rest of a patient’s life? Why should the government invest resources to grow a country with low/no poverty, that lifts the desperate out of a life of crime and makes the society safer for everyone, when it can have it citizens pay for security systems that create jobs and thus produce tax revenue? (Security systems notably run into a similar issues as rape whistles do.) These are issues worth thinking about. It’s why some people are critical of the GDP model of measuring a country’s output as opposed to some measure that measures the net impact of that production or as opposed to a measure like “happiness.”

      Was this joke wrong to use rape? Personally, I think the excerpt validates the frustration of dealing with rape, including that corporations are exploiting rape (and other crime and suffering) to maximize profits rather than “solve the problem.”

  7. Posted March 26, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Hilarious.

    I used to keep silent and curse these people in my head but I got fed up of it recently. I noticed a guy I added from University on Facebook was a frequent rape joke maker and left him a message on one of his hilarious jokes. I told him that I was a rape victim and that his jokes weren’t funny, trivialised the issue and I was offended by it. After a long chain of replies trying to explain how it made me feel and how it’s quite clearly an offensive thing to do, he concluded that making jokes about things like this is good because it raises awareness of them and that there is always someone offended by every type of joke.

    Frustrated, I realised they’re never going to understand but now at least he’s carrying on doing this knowing for sure that there are victims out there likely to read and get pissed off and upset by it. He’s free to carry on doing it with that knowledge, maybe one day if he’s raped up the arse he’ll understanding making it funny is not a good way of raising awareness of the realities and horrible serious effects of rape.

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