That rape joke wasn’t funny — ever
When Twitter teaches you all the people you need to block
When I saw the hashtag #BeforeWeHaveSexWeShould, I was all set to mention safe sex, STD testing, passing sex ed classes and knowing this person’s last name. Y’know, the basics. To my delight, this Twitter user beat me to it, with the tweet “#BeforeWeHaveSexWeShould get tested” and I curtsied from my dining room chair. But then I read this tweet from a “Suburban Gangsta” that ruined the whole hashtag for me: “#BeforeWeHaveSexWeShould fill out all the consent paperwork that’s required for a one night stand now.”
The #MeTooMovement has come so far, but there are still some men (and women) who have gone out of their way to be tone deaf to it. It’s not just the rape “joke” that was disappointing; it was the extra creepy Twitter background message with a Tazmanian Devil: “I do it because I can. I can because I want to. I want to because … You said I couldn’t!” And that just makes the whole tweet even worse.
Of course there are the folks who took the rape “joke” as harmless — including the 1.3K likes and 156 retweets — but I’m still left wondering, “Why is mutual consent such a challenge for some people?” Truth be told, if you need to carry a scroll around to figure out how to get sexual consent, you should just stick to masturbating.
I have never been raped — fortunately — and I’m not one of the Americans who gets sexually assaulted every 73 seconds. But there was one incident that threw me off so much that it made me pretty disgusted by men — for at least one night — before I went back to reminding myself, “It is not all men. Don’t lump them all in this category.”
A few years ago, I was swiftly walking home from work. My mind was on my Halloween costume for my brother’s birthday party happening a couple hours from then. I wasn’t really paying attention to the trio of guys walking in the opposite direction. Possibly because I have far more male cousins than female ones, no sisters and grew up with quite a few platonic male friends, I don’t freak out when I see men at night — even when I’m alone. I’ve always been more of a girls’ guy and try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.
So imagine my (naive?) surprise when one of the three reached out and touched my winter-coat covered boob. When he did it, I was so startled that I turned and asked, “Why did you just grab me?” My initial thought was, “There’s no way in the world he did that on purpose. He had to be stretching or yawning, and I just walked by too fast.” His response, with a cigarette hanging out of the corner of his mouth, was to say, “I saw something I liked, so I touched it.” And his two friends loudly announced, “I’m outta here!” and they speed-walked away.
I. Lost. My. Entire. Mind. I said every single curse word you can think of and yelled at him loud enough for the whole block to hear. I seriously considered burning him with his own cigarette. You grow up with a flock of men around and you learn how to fight fairly early on. I was so visibly mad that he apologized and tried to joke it off. I stormed home and refused to let him ruin my night. I got dressed for that party and drove all the way there, force-smiling at my older brother and never telling him what happened until years later — long after he could’ve done anything. A family friend told me I was “lucky” that he and his friends didn’t react differently — and that could’ve very much happened. But it didn’t.
I think of that story every blue moon. I’m still livid about someone feeling like it was perfectly OK to violate someone just because he “saw something I liked, so I touched it.” In addition to usually being the “only female in my crew,” I also had an uncomfortable amount of female classmates, handful of female friends and co-workers, and women I’ve interviewed as a journalist over the years who went through far worse with relatives and strangers. They felt helpless in those situations and to this day, almost all of them never spoke up to other family members nor the police.
So I make no apologies when I say there’s nothing funny to me about a rape or a sexual consent joke. I make no apologies for refusing to laugh off a “joke” about consensual sex or that pesky part of not breaking the law. (How about not banking on the bail money you’ll need?) I am, however, troubled that someone’s first thought before having sex is the tediousness of making sure you both mutually agree with it beforehand. If you can’t figure out how to know she actually wants to have sex with you, then just like her from afar and go home alone — and keep your hands to yourself.
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