Note to ex-Facebook friend: Sexual abuse is not funny

A guest blog article by Chevara Orrin (activist, world citizen)

A recent Facebook post read, “If a prostitute is raped, is it rape or shoplifting?” My stomach churned as I hastily replied, “As a survivor of incest and an advocate who works to eradicate sexual, physical and emotional violence against all women, including changing the desensitized culture we’ve created and perpetuated that marginalizes these experiences, I ask that you be more thoughtful in your postings.”

Several minutes later, a friend of a friend “liked” my comment and within seconds the original Facebook friend had blocked me from viewing his wall posts.

And that is often how easily we close our eyes to the abuse of women we feel somehow “asked for it.” Women, we believe, brought the violence upon themselves.

Now I suppose I could have ignored the posting. At worst, the comment was misogynist. At best misguided. In the age of the social-media revolution, it seems as though anything goes, including off-color jokes that cause us to giggle with nervous laughter, slightly uncomfortable … about race, gender and sexual violence.

Several years ago I decided to speak out openly against messaging that trivializes and normalizes violence against women. At first, I began by sharing my own story with those closest to me. I served on boards of organizations whose mission was to eradicate sexual violence. I gradually began to insert myself in conversations around me, challenging stereotypes. I started writing letters, signing petitions, joining marches and rallies. I organized a group of 23 college students (men) teetering in high heels as they “walked a mile in her shoes” to raise awareness about sexual assault against women.

So, of course, my Facebook friend wasn’t about to receive a pass. His attempt to silence me only strengthened my resolve. In order to create lasting change we must take action, not just offense.

I take offense because I am a woman. I take offense because I have a mother, grandmother, aunts, sisters and nieces. I take offense because my two sons may have daughters someday. I take offense because in the past three years that I’ve openly shared my own sexual abuse, I’ve heard from hundreds of women in our community sharing their stories of victimization and survival. Some of them prostitutes. All of them worthy of our protection.

I take action because in the words of poet and writer Audre Lorde, “Your silence will not protect you.”

Those of us who have suffered sexual abuse and violence are often silenced by shame and stigma. I speak for the women who have not yet found their voices. I speak for the 1 in 6 women in America who will be victimized during their lifetime. I speak because somewhere in the United States, a woman is raped or sexually assaulted every two minutes.

I speak because I know a woman who spent 16 years as a prostitute. She was raped by her grandfather for five years. She was only 11 when the abuse began. In an effort to escape from the pain and terror of sexual violence, she began using drugs. At 16, she became a prostitute to support her drug habit. She worked street corners, back alleys and affluent neighborhoods. She’s been beaten and raped at gunpoint. She’s witnessed unimaginable horror. In 2007, she graduated from college with honors and lives and works in our community.

I don’t think she’d laugh at the punchline.

Rape is violent and never justified — whether the victim is a grandmother, college student or sex worker.

Aishah Shahidah Simmons, award-winning producer/writer/director of No! The Rape Documentary, spoke at a recent rally: “Again, I ask where do we draw the lines of who can and can’t be assaulted, harassed, and/or raped? As long as there is any group of people including but not limited to adolescent and teenage ‘fast’ girls, women, trans people, queer people, and sex workers who are marginalized, then all of us are vulnerable both because it’s all subjective; and the lines of the margins shift all of the time. Who’s acceptable today may not be acceptable tomorrow.”

I stand in solidarity and sisterhood with any and all women who have been raped. As for my former Facebook friend, I hope somebody posts this on his wall.

copyright note:  Originally published at the Winston-Salem Journal on September 4, 2011.  Reposted with permission from the author, who is a community activist and university administrator.  She is also the founder of WhiteSpace SafeSpace, a forum for incest survivors.

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75 thoughts on “Note to ex-Facebook friend: Sexual abuse is not funny

  1. Your article is very thought provoking. After reading it I had to stop and think about how many of my friends leave comments that are demeaning. While I was in the Marine Corps I had degraded women and mistreated them very badly. I saw women in a low esteem for much of my life. That all changed when I became a follower of Jesus Christ. Because of him and his word I saw how wrong I was ll these years for degrading women. People that leave comments that degrade not only women but people in general I have them removed or i object to their evil comments. It is sad to see how people degrade other people for what? This country doesn’t consider people’s right as sacred, people make joke about things like prostitution and sexual immorality. Out of the mouth the heart speaks. Life and death comes from the power of the tongue. It is a tiny spark that can ignite a forest. Good article, thanks, god bless

  2. Your article made me think about how “ignorance is bliss”. People do not always take into account the reality of these dirty jokes. The joke makes sense, but does it make sense to laugh at women in fear? For that matter, anybody could be raped. A better question is does anyone laugh when children are raped? The problems in society are not a joke. Vlad, you made a comment how you changed your point of view once you found Jesus Christ. I personally know a father who behaved the same way until his wife gave birth to their first child; his daughter. His opinions about viewing women as sex objects and making smutty jokes changed real fast!

    1. These kind of jokes need to stop.It really grieves me to see unbelievable comments like,” I’m so negative today…Well go have sex with someone with HIV and you will be positive the rest of your life.” This is a quote from someone I used to talk to via Facebook. How sick is that comment? There are many people suffering from the disease that are children and it sickens me how people take human life so lightly. I have seen children living with HIV/AIDS when I visited Mexico on a missionary trip. Seeing children who won’t live past the age of five or six is heart wrenching. Many of these kids are from drug addicts and prostitutes, but they are still people who have value. Human trafficking is happening in every major city but many people are ignorant of this sad fact. People’s minds are ravaged to the core with destructive beliefs. When have people lost their value? When has rape become a joking matter? When people make jokes of these atrocities then they display they have no value for people.

  3. Chevara, thank you for sharing your story. Through your courage, you give others permission to come out of the shadows.

    It’s never acceptable to demean, degrade, ridicule, mock – anyone.

    Redemption is a wonderful thing. What would be even more wonderful, would be to educate our children so that they would not have to redeem themselves and their victims would not have to suffer in the first place.

    It is interesting to witness a shift in someone’s position once a situation becomes personal. The truth of the matter is that it is ALWAYS personal. We are connected to every other human being on the planet. That prostitute being raped is my sister, is your sister, your cousin, your aunt. If we truly believe that every life is precious then it is precious. It’s not precious when we only do good things, it’s not precious when we do what others think we should do, it is precious always.

  4. While I attended Arizona State, I joined a fraternity and saw women degraded on a weekly basis. Often the running joke would be how “easy” a girl was or how much of a “slut” she was. At the time, I said nothing partially because I did not want to create issues between members of the house; however, being raised by a single mother gave me the ideas to know these women should not be treated this way. The article made me reflect on my time in the house and think about the times where I should have stood up and defended these girl, many of whom considered us their close friends. However, when you get a large group of like-minded people together, it can be hard to make changes.

    1. This is the issue with society now a days. They label it as “ok” to call girls these names or degrade females in general. It is not ok for people to be going around calling people these nasty names. Sure I am a guy, but in all honesty we have it pretty easy for being a guy. We will never be able to see truly hurtful a girl will feel with these names being called unto her.

  5. After reading this, I had mixed feelings. I don’t believe that anyone should be sexual abused and raped in any way. I don’t care if a person is walking down the street naked; no one deserves to be force to do something that they don’t want to do. I also feel that some of the comments said to women that are meant to degrading them are ridiculous and childish. Does it make people feel bigger and more superior to a person by doing it? But what can we do stop it?
    As a woman there are times that I’ve been made uncomfortable. For ex ample when I go out with my friends to the bars drinking, there are guys that will walk by and grab my butt or touch me inappropriately. Of course, me being a strong personality and a strong woman, I will confront that guy and get in his face and tell him what he was doing is wrong. I know that’s probably not the best thing to do especially when drinking is involved and its cause me to be in physical fights with these men. I know I am putting myself in danger because if they don’t have respect me enough not to touch my sexually, who’s to say that they won’t hesitate to hit me? But what else can I do in this situation? If I do nothing, he will continue to do it to other woman and what if that leads to more than just touching but to rape? Is that my fault that I didn’t stand up to him? But can I go to the police and say hey this guy grabbed my butt or touched me inappropriately? I wish it was as simple as that but it’s not. A cop would look at me and think that I’m crazy for reporting.
    I’ve been hit by men in my life time and reported each one. What did the police do for me? They made a file on the men that hit me but what were his consequences? Nothing! I had two black eyes and a cut above my eye and he got to walk away scott free.
    I’m now going to refer to an article written by A. Ayres Boswell and Joan Spade called Fraternities and Collegiate. In the article it talks about situations that can be high risk of places of being raped. It tells you about places that are at high risk and how to identify them. After reading the article, I felt more aware of my surrounding when I’m out at night. I can now identify the situations that I’m in and make changes when I feel that I may be at risk such as not going places alone or to stay in a group. As much as women shouldn’t have to do this, we have to think realistically that it could happen to you. I think that women should be educated to be aware of situations and think that it could happen to them and to be cautious when at risk.
    Kristen I thank you in telling your story and I support the fight that you are fighting for. I think that making awareness is the first step to ending sexual abuse and violence. I just wish that this fight was an easier fight to fight.

    1. I am absolutely heart broken for you! no woman should ever be treated like the way you have been. The fact that there are men in this world who live like that is horrible. Men need to step up and speak beside woman. Woman have been outspoken and trampled on for too long. it is so sad that those men who have hurt you have no charges put on them. It is simply not right. No one deserves any form of physical abuse. thank you for being strong and an encouragement. Justice shall and will be served to those men who are physically abusing defenseless women.

  6. This was a powerful article, and i was moved by every word. Especially ‘the words of poet and writer Audre Lorde, “Your silence will not protect you,”‘ because it is extremely true. How are you suppose to defend yourself or others if you just stay where you are. I have no place to talk and I do not know how it feels to be sexually abused or raped, so I assume it is one of the hardest situations to get out of, and takes an extremely strong person to say stop it, and recover. I hate when people say jokingly well that girl/woman deserved to be raped because of the way she looks or dressed. It is never okay. Rape is rape, it is not asked for, it is forced. So how could somebody ask for it when it is forced upon? People are messed up in the way they see things. I do not know whom to blame, society? Media? Parents? Fortunately for you Chevara, and your friends, well many friends, you all grew stronger and used what happened to you to make sure that it does not happen, or get stopped all together.

    1. I definitely have to agree with you on that one. I feel that people really don’t realize how sensitive of a term it is too many people. Can you really blame them when they have to learn to live and cope through such a terrible thing like this? It’s really hard for one to realize how painful some terms are because of the lack of experience, or many of the times we let ignorance take the best of us. We are very quick to judge without even knowing the reasons or motives behind people’s actions. We just feel that we are entitled to judge because we want to. Little do we know how the majority of prostitutes are forced into prostitution and instead of helping them leave that lifestyle we judge their behavior and consider them worthless.

      1. Mayra, I have to agree with you that some people just run their mouth, and don’t watch would they should say. However I feel that many times people are also to sensitive to certain words and it does annoy me sometimes. I don’t like being rude but I do think that everybody should be entitled to an opinion.

  7. Wow, that is a horrible joke. I guess I am going to have to agree here with the comment that “ignorance is bliss.” I don’t really see what is so funny about a joke like this? Because she is a prostitute? Sometimes I think people find humor in jokes because they are so far removed from situations like these that they try out a joke like this for “shock value.” Anyhow, this reminds me of a joke that was made at my workplace about a month ago. It was right after a Sociology class I had with BonnieJean so it especially struck me as offensive and awkward. My coworker says, “A guy is sitting at a stoplight and a car full of young muslims pulls up next to him. He looks over at the car and these kids are being loud, blaring their music and being obnoxious. He turns to look ahead and notices the light turning green. He pauses for a second while the car full of kids speeds ahead. The kids get hit and are all killed by a speeding semi truck that ran a red light. The driver says to himself, “hmm, I guess I should’ve been a truck driver.” —So at this point in the joke the silence was so awkward and unfunny I literally just had to walk away. HOW IS THAT FUNNY? I actually feel bad repeating that joke on here but I feel like it is a perfect example of people’s ignorance and what is deemed “funny” or worthy of sharing. The person that told the joke was probably in his/her seventies and the other co-worker next to me was probably 65 so I understand there is going to be some cultural differences there. At least I could tell that this person felt very awkward when I did not laugh at their joke. This may have been a bit off topic as far as sexuality goes, but as far as jokes go I feel that this one was on par with your experience.

  8. I agree with Kate. I have also experienced from first hand, having to hear from an ex-boss that was about his 60s, “jokes” that were absolutely sexist, racist, and diminishing towards women. He never got married, doesn’t have any children, and doesn’t communicate with the rest of his family. My intention is not to criticize my employer, but to point out that the lack of a female presence in a man’s life, definitely has an impact on the sympathy men could feel about issues so delicate that women go through, like rape, and family needs. Also, he is from a different generation and like Kate said, this makes a big cultural difference on how man used to picture the role of women, and the influence this still has in our present generations, which is why is still very hard for women to achieve equal right in a society control by men.

  9. Let me just say….INSPIRING! The men that you got to walk “in her shoes” is amazing becuase there needs to be men that stand up for the way women are treated. This post made me think back to the novel/movie “The Lincoln Lawyer” where a man was accused of beating/trying to rape a prostitue and come later to find out he was the one who murdered another girl years back. One of the comments he said to another cell mate was “the B**** got what she deserved.” I do not care who you are, what you do, or where you come from…..NO ONE deserves to be abused in any way or form. And then using that word to describe women is extemely downgrading yet these days it is used so generally in normal conversation to talk about a female wether it is a friend or enemy. Although using that word does not help when girls use it about one another because it gives guys the impression that its ok.

    1. I agree with this comment completely. We will never know how a joke is taken in until you really are in her shoes. It is so sad to see people thinking it is ok to just blurt out comments whenever they want. It is so hard to see people be bullied on a daily basis. People are who they are for a reason and people should be a lot more thankful and appreciative of that.

  10. A few days ago my brother was talking to me about some video game of his, and he said that such-and-such strategy “rapes” the opposition. I told him not to use the word “rape” so casually, and he complied. Use of that word outside of its intended context trivializes the act of rape and is inconsiderate toward rape survivors, both male and female—and we learned in class that there are more of these people than we think. People today often forget that the right to free speech doesn’t give you a license to be an asshole!

    1. I definitely have to agree with you on that one. I feel that people really don’t realize how sensitive of a term it is too many people. Can you really blame them when they have to learn to live and cope through such a terrible thing like this? It’s really hard for one to realize how painful some terms are because of the lack of experience, or many of the times we let ignorance take the best of us. I feel that maybe your brother wasn’t trying to be hurtful however he should probably give more thought into his word choices. Especially since you can’t compare a video game to rape itself. We are very quick to judge without even knowing the reasons or motives behind people’s actions. We just feel that we are entitled to judge because we want to. Little do we know how the majority of prostitutes are forced into prostitution and instead of helping them leave that lifestyle we judge their behavior and consider them worthless.

  11. From what I have learned in class, and the discussions I have had with my classmates is that, in fact some in our current society use the terms “rape”, “you are so gay”, and “b***h”, among many others, too casually. That some only come to realize how hard, and wrong it is to express themselves without using those terms until they are in the presence of others who might be offended by the terms used. Mills would advice those members of our society to become more educated, and aware of the prejudice effects that such comments cause.

    1. these terms that our society says so normally are truly hurtful. The meaning and the actual value of those terms have gone down and people dont know the true meaning of them because they are over used. This needs to end. Words and phrases like those should never be blurted out in anger or better yet, in everyday language. It is simply wrong for anyone to be speaking like that to anyone.

  12. I want to start off by saying that you are incredibly courageous for sharing your story with others and doing all that you can in order to help victims. That joke is disgusting and the fact that he thought that was humorous and acceptable just makes me cringe. While I know that some women do it because they have no other option, I do not support prostitution in any way. However, I do not believe that those women deserve to be sexual abused. They are just as much women as all other women, and just because of their ways of making money are not ideal does not mean that they deserve to be victims of such an inhumane crime. It’s obvious that some men still think they are superior to women, and I have no confidence that that will ever change, which is upsetting. It doesn’t matter what women accomplish, some men will just always think women are inferior.

  13. It’s hard to believe that people would even think to post something as crude as that on Facebook. Surprisingly, I actually saw the same statement “If a prostitute is raped, is it rape or shoplifting?” on Twitter the other day. I will never be able to understand how anyone can think these types of remarks are acceptable. I think it was inspiring and brave of you to state your opinion on your post. By him blocking you from seeing the post only shows that he was embarrassed by your statement; you made a valid point and he was “shot down”. No woman, or man, should ever be treated without full respect. Rape is no small issue and should not be taken lightly. The term “prostitute” should not be thrown around either. No one may know the history behind the girl standing on the street corner, it may be her only way for survival.

  14. I Agree with Taylor’s statement, “No one really knows the history behind the girl standing on the street corner”. As Chevara explained, it could be caused by been sexually assaulted from a young age, that follows with drug addiction, the need of survival or been force by someone else to do it. In conclusion, no one has the right to judge, and no one deserves that kind of inhuman treatment.

  15. People tend to think whatever they post on Facebook, Twitter, or any other type of social media website does not matter. Or, they are just people who do not think at all. I have never seen that “line” but often do see women being called inappropriate words, or men (boys) posting inappropriately about women. They never give a second to even wonder who would see it, or even about people’s privet lives they do not know about they may result in pulling out bad memories from another person. Good for you in standing up for all women, and taking him down with your comment. The fact that he blocked you from seeing anything just shows how naive and immature he is. Rape, the pain physically, mentally, and emotionally is nothing to every joke about.

  16. Maybe some of these woman dominating thoughts have been passed down through generations from families where woman didn’t have rights. I am in no way justifying why these women are being mistreated. I think the media has some to do with how people view women. Unfortunately we still live in a male dominated society and i think many people like it that way. They way these women were treated is very wrong. I had a friend smack a strippers butt on the vegas strip and i said dude?! He said she’s a stripper thats her job….. he obviously doesn’t see that she is a women who is choosing to be a stripper as a job but that doesn’t mean she is not a person and doesn’t deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Goes the same for a prostitue, yea she is offering sexual services for money or drugs but if this person isn’t allowing anything that in no way makes it ok to just take it. People in this world need to have some damn decency.

  17. I found this to be a great story and hope a lot of people read this article. To start off that joke that person had posted is not even a good joke. I am also glad that you decided to take action instead of just letting it pass. More people need to have that mindset that you are just not going to be walked all over, especially on a touchy subject like rape. Sadly today people don’t see that issues like rape are serious issues and sometimes can effect a persons life in a major way. More people need to be careful about what they post and have more respect for human life. Every day is a gift and it is our duty to enjoy it and allow others to enjoy their life as well! I hope you continue to raise awareness of the issue!

  18. I agree with ls1gtoh that media has contributed with the way people express themselves about women. Constantly I hear in song, and TV shows the word “b***h”, mentioned so easily as if they are saying hello. For example, the singer Jay Z, when his daughter was born, he took the decision not to use that term. Or even girls calling each other “b***h”. In my generation, if someone said something so disrespectful, we would be in a lot of trouble with our parents. Our society has become very insensitive, and people need to be more conscious in the way they express themselves, in person, Facebook or twitter, because you never know whose feelings are going to get hurt.

  19. Chevara,
    What you wrote under the post, was right. It might seem that the whoever posted it was ignorant, but since he/she has blocked you, it means you had an impact. Sometimes people react that way because they simply feel stupid and don’t want to start a whole debate on Facebook. As you said before most important is not stay ignorant!

  20. The problem with social media is that anybody can do it. Anybody with an opinion can just sit in front of a computer screen and type hurtful things to someone they have never even met before. That’s why issues like bullying and stalking have become all too familiar nowadays. As for your story, that is something that unfortunately happens too much on facebook, twitter, etc. I personally know a number of stories like that where people post ridiculous and hurtful things and then just run away and hide or block someone. It is really sad that people in society today feel the need to say horrible things behind someones back but never too there faces. This has become a huge problem because of social media.

  21. This article just gets me thinking about life in general and the people in it. I don’t know anyone or anyone who would know anyone who actually wanted to be a prostitute. and then it got me thinking about who are these people talking this kind of stuff but then my mind drifted to the other side of the argument that most, NOT ALL, but I’d say with confidence that Most prostitutes are doing these things because of there own problems with drugs or whatever it is they shouldn’t be doing… I guess when it boils down to it I really don’t know what to think about this passage.

  22. Steve is not as rare as you think. In fact some months ago, it came up in the news, that even some college girls are working as “escorts” to be able to pay their careers, because they can no longer pay their tuition. Now imagine the extreme of circumstances that would push a woman to become a prostitute? I am not excusing anyone’s actions, but I just want to point out as is been mention in prior comments, that we never know what a person is going through until we walked in their shoes.

    1. I can totally agree with what you are saying. Everyone at some point forget the simple fact of life which is that a individual can never truly know exactly what someone have experienced in their lives. Although this doesn’t mean that because of this fact that any action can be justified, but rather can give a better understanding to the why then the how. If the how can someone do what then we as people start to pass judgement can no one alive is capable of such a thing. some people may have been able to see and experience a wide range of circumstances, but even those individuals who have seen more than others are still unable to truly understand people in similar situations. Its true that situations may be similar, but can never be the same.

  23. I don’t say this to make light of the situation, but a comment like that about something so terrible from what I see can only be a joke. now a joke although sometimes slightly uncomfortable is only told for a few laughs. I know many people would say at what expense is the joke being told for? And to that I say a joke is just that, a joke. I don’t think when telling a joke I should worry whether or not its appropriate for the audience hearing it. Then if so jokes wouldn’t exist at all. I am in no way justifying the reason behind why rape happens. Sometimes you got to ask yourself I’m not saying that women in any shape or form asked to be raped, but depending the situation sometimes they take risks that wasn’t necessary and that could have been avoided. Please don’t misunderstand and think that I mean that this can be applied to all of the cases of rape I just mean the select few which this can relate to.

    1. The reality is, a joke is not just a joke. Certain settings have no business having certain jokes told. It can and does do damage in many ways. In a comedy club where you know an uncomfortable joke might be told, it is fully appropriate, but on a website… absolutely not. And fact of the matter is, there are some jokes that should never be told at all – they just simply do too much damage to individuals and society as a whole.

      1. I don’t think you have the right to trample on my or any other person’s civil rights all because of a misinterpretation. And also if anyone starts to censor the internet in any way it opens the door to the whole thing being reform all because a few people can not stand what was posted. If someone does not like what was posted I mean first of all you didn’t have to read it and i know maybe you might say that “oh but I did read it” then I say to you that why can’t you just ignore it? If you truly believe EVERY comment ever made or a uncomfortable joke ever told all caused the world for being what it is then I mean I won’t criticize that, but i say people are stronger than that if you are living you got to develop a thick skin because words are just that words. If even words got to be censored why should anyone speak again?

      2. I am not trampling on anyone rights… I don’t censor. But there are appropriate and inappropriate times to tell jokes about certain topics. It is about having respect for one’s fellow human beings. No more no less. We as fellow citizens’ in the great vast world we live in should be aware of the world around them, the circumstances they intend to tell the joke, and THINK about the impact it could have on another person in a particular situation. There are simply certain times and settings that jokes are not appropriate and can do damage to another person.

  24. i dont disagree with you when you say that there are appropriate or inappropriate jokes, but the truth of the matter is that there is no appropriate time to tell any joke at all. The thing about a joke is if a joke is being told and the individual thought for a second if the is appropriate for the audience then honestly a joke would never be told. No matter how anyone wants to put it a joke when told will always be at the expense of another. Regardless of the individual’s personal or objective views or even if the individual is or claims to be accepting of anyone will still be telling a joke at someones expense. With that being said I am not going to be ignorant and deny the fact that certain jokes do make certain people feel as if the joke was implied some kind of malice intent. Now my point which is that even if a joke was told or done although it may seem malicious, but i can say that most of the time not all of the joke would be for pure amusement. I say this with confidence is because a joke usually told or done between individuals who are comfortable with each other. And the level of comfort for such happening only be provided by the individual’s close acquaintances such as friends, family, or etc. the list goes on. Overall the message is that if a joke happened the individual who was the expense of the joke provided the individual who did the joke regardless of intent that level of comfort for a joke to be done. I don’t mean to say that in any given situation that the individual who was the expense of a joke asked for it, but the joke wouldn’t have been told or done unless the individual telling or doing a joke felt the individual who the joke was being said about was comfortable with whatever the context of the joke.

    1. I think you are taking the whole concept of joking out of proportion. I think the appropriate thing to say is, to know when to joke and how to joke. Some people are just down right insensitive and hurtful. There are a select few people in my life that know how to make appropriate jokes at the right time. That’s the difference here. When it is ok to joke around and when it is ok not to joke.

  25. My little brother when he is playing people on Xbox used to always use phrases like, “I just murdered them in a hockey game” or “I just killed them” or “that guy just got raped.” I specifically remember him saying one time, “Hey Elliott, guess what? I just raped someone 6 to 1 in a game.” I then told him not to say that because what if someone walked by and heard him say that and they were coincidentally a rape victim? I am sure that would bother someone a lot if they were a rape victim. In my mind, and hopefully in everyone’s mind, people don’t joke around about jokes that are racist, or has very strong words in it that could really hurt someone if they are a victim of something or had a bad experience.

  26. Few people, if any, consider it okay for sexual abuse to continue unchecked, and although eliminating it from our society completely may be an impossibility, I agree that education about the subject is crucial to lowering the rates of rape and abuse. However, an ardent and unforgiving campaign against a certain type of joke is just plain un-American. We have free speech in this country, which allows misogynist men to make jokes that offend survivors of sexual abuse as much as it allows those same survivors to speak at the rallies they organize to prevent anyone else from suffering as they have. Any joke is bound to offend somebody, and I personally would hate to live in a world without humor. If you spend your life trying to shame those who offend you into silence, you’re going to have a sad, miserable, restless existence. Sexual abuse is wrong, but if my grandmother who lived as a Jew in Germany in the 1940s could crack a holocaust joke from time to time, maybe some former prostitutes and survivors of assault appreciate humor as a way to get over their difficult pasts.

    1. Generally speaking, this article is not about free speech. On that note, you are correct, people have the right to say, and joke about, what they want. More specifically, this is about respect. While having the right to say what you want is there, it doesn’t mean people necessarily should. People should be aware of their surroundings and the people present and respect the feelings of those around them. There are appropriate times and places for certain behaviors, jokes, comments, etc. When there is mutual respect in society between people, then, and only then, can occurrences such as rape or racism have any chance of ending (not that either will sadly).

      1. I completely agree. I feel like these jokes are made at a certain maturity level and I find it pathetic that I see all ages participating in these jokes. I myself am not a victim of sexual abuse of any nature but I have close relations with people that are and I get incredibly defensive hearing or reading these jokes. Nothing of the matter could even be remotely amusing so I don’t see how anyone could make light of such a subject.

      2. I believe this is the sad reality that we live in today. Comments like these are being made about any female figure. It can be quite disturbing at times but, this indeed in the reality that we have to face. I believe it is very sad how the image of a female is looked down upon. I support women stepping up to big positions like being a president to show that males are not always the more dominant figure. But going back, the guy did have the right of freedom of speech, I think it’s just how people interpret him saying that comment. The smart thing to do would have been to just keep it at peace and leave the whole situation alone.

    2. I agree with you that it’s good to lighten up and crack jokes. But you never actually know the company you’re in. Even if there are no sexual assault victims (or their family or friends) within earshot, a lighthearted joke about rape could impact a current or future perpetrator of sexual assault. Making light of violence does nothing to educate the the perpetrators of violence. But shaming them openly (i.e. sports broadcasters openly shaming Jerry Sandusky) blazes trails to open dialogue about the horrors of rape. It makes us ask the question, “What would I have done if I had walked in on that?” and this serious, joke-free dialogue prepares us to take action if we’re ever faced with a situation as serious as that at Penn State.

  27. I found this article very shocking. For someone to joke about something as severe as rape is disgusting. Unfortunately, in today’s society social media and social networks play such a crucial role in people’s everyday lives that nobody really takes into consideration who may be offended by a post online. I have friends who will say, “Oh I totally raped that guy in Call of Duty the other day”. I never really thought about what he was really saying. I just brushed it off and thought, “Well, that was rude”. I never thought of just how offensive one word can really be. As teenagers and young adults, most of the things we post on Facebook are for attention. People do not take into account that the guy they just called a “fag” or the girl that they just called a “slut” could have been victims to something more tragic and that one word can push them over the edge possibly causing them to do harm to themselves. I think that something as severe as rape should not be made into an internet joke. The phrase, “ignorance is bliss” comes to mind when I ask myself why people find inhumane things to be a joke.

  28. This article just shows how ignorant some people can be without even considering the thought or feelings of others. I find it very disrespectful for someone to even post something like that on facebook. You did right by voicing your opinion, I don’t understand how one could compare rape to prostitution. Rape is a very serious matter and leaves those that have been victimized traumatize. When dealing with such a touchy subject people need to be very carefull on what they say. No I have never been raped but I could only imagine how that may feel. Thank you for sharing such an enlighting blog.

    1. I agree that it is disrespectful. Also that the person would of been better suited not posting this on Facebook. But it was and it really doesn’t bother me too much. I have seen so much worst. That’s not making it right but it was a meaning less joke nothing more. I pretty sure this person was not like I am going to offend all of these people I am totally going to post this.

  29. The fact that someone would post a status like that on Facebook no longer surprises me. As there has been a mass increase in the amount of social networking sites as well as the amount of people that use social networking sites it seems that people have lost all discretion and respect. Many social network users feel that because they have their own “profile” they are allowed to say any and everything regardless of who it may hurt or offend. Whoever posted that comment obviously didn’t have those in mind that may have suffered from sexual assault and might suffer from a somewhat sick sense of humor. Rape, or any type of sexual abuse should always be taken seriously and never joked about because of the simple fact that it affects the lives of so many men and women. I believe that society as a whole should better educate its youth as well as the older generations about how detrimental sexual assault is and the negative effects it can have on both victims and their family.

  30. I personally have never been raped before, and I’m not sure if it is because of the family support that has always been around me, my father, and brother mostly, or if I’ve just been lucky not to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. I can empathize with this topic so much though. It seems that every time this topic is brought into discussion, so many women have a story to share abut themselves having been raped or someone they know. It’s always devastating to me, and I feel so bad. I think to myself how can I help. It seems like there’s a pattern as well. In some cases the person who rapes others, has been raped or molested themselves at one time or another. I completely agree with the writer. We have to find a way to stand up for these individuals, and say it doesn’t matter what your profession is, no means no! I also agree that social media makes things harder. People post what ever they want and many don’t think about how their comment may affect others. I’m so happy that the writer stood up for what she believed in and set the facebook friend straight. Hopefully one day soon, we can help put an end to rape and the way people think negatively about individuals who have been raped.

  31. I am completely appalled by the Facebook posting you described in your article, and I absolutely agree that sexual abuse should never, under any circumstance, be made the butt of a joke. However, I feel that awareness about this subject is difficult to convey because there is usually the stigma attached to it that says that “only women can be raped.” Now obviously, this is not true, but there are people out there that believe that this is the case. Because society highlights and suggests that women are the primary victims of rape, men that have experienced sexual abuse or rape may be hesitant to repot such matters because it’s “unmanly” to admit to such a thing or they may not believe it counts as rape. If this subject were advertised from both perspectives, I feel that a lot more people would realize that this is a bigger issue than it is made out to be because it could happen to anyone- it’s not just subject to women.

  32. I have seen many statuses on Facebook that joke about harsh or racial situations in a laughing manner and have always thought, “Why have they posted that status when they know they are offending someone”? It doesn’t make any sense to me why people deliberately take victims and try to portray them as the culprit of the crime. This is what your friend who posted the status on Facebook sounded like he was doing, making the prostitute the culprit for rape. It’s really a shame that we have become so emotionally detached on social networks that people feel these types of statuses are ok because they’re not saying it to anyone’s face. I do feel though, that there is a stigma behind sexual abuse, especially for women because many do say that the women was ‘asking for it’ when that is clearly not the case. I feel that people have to be better educated on different issues such as these to help them understand how others may feel so that next time, maybe they’ll think twice about what they post.

  33. This article is so moving. There needs to be an end to the degrading comments towards women. Nobody deserves to be raped and they certainly don’t “ask” for it. Rapists view it as victims asking for it by the way they dress or the way they look. With all the social media available people don’t even think about what they are posting. I’ve seen so much racist, sexist, rude statuses on my Facebook news feed, and it’s absolutely disgraceful. To anyone who thinks it’s okay to post such things on a public cite is dumb. It’s offensive and unacceptable, people need to learn to think before they act.

    1. What part of that joke implied that the person telling it supported rape or violence against woman? And how was it unacceptable to tell the joke on his own Facebook wall? It isn’t like he was forcing anyone to read it or even like it.

      And if just telling a joke ABOUT rape implies one supports it, then do “dead baby” jokes mean that one supports the death of babies?

      1. I understand what you mean by that, but people are so unaware of the affects that occur from what they post on Facebook. I realize that, that is their Facebook page and if we don’t like what they have to say about it we can just delete them as a friend, but also posting offensive things like this is inconsiderate. I also don’t believe that things like rape and “dead baby” jokes are something to be joked about. It is something that is serious not something that is funny.

      2. If we moderated our Facebook posts so that no one becomes offended, we’re really hiding behind false pretense. If everything on YOUR Facebook wall is changed or omitted entirely because you are afraid it will offend anyone at all, your Facebook wall would be much less personal than it would be otherwise.

        Rape, I agree, isn’t exactly something that should be joked about regularly. However, there is something called dark humor. The kind of jokes where you might say, “Oh, I’m going to Hell for this one.” They’re often supposed to be dark, shocking, and catch you off guard. While not everyone might find these jokes amusing, there is an audience for them.

        I might agree with you if this friend of hers put this little post up after she vented about her friend being raped, but how is this inconsiderate? He is sharing this on his own wall at his own risk for his friends alone to see (assuming he isn’t an idiot about his privacy settings).

      3. I see where your coming from and I don’t at all means mean that people should not be themselves on their own Facebook. Just that when it comes to topics like this it shouldn’t be used on Facebook. I get there is the dark humor issue, but I feel like even if it is dark humor rape shouldn’t be a part of that. And if this kind of humor were to be used, people shouldn’t use it in such a public way, instead say it directly to the audience that would find this amusing not all of your Facebook friends.

      4. I don’t see why people shouldn’t post things like this. If they think their friends will enjoy the joke, then there shouldn’t really be a problem here.

        Any risks of offending someone on your friends list is on you. That’s the risk of telling jokes like that. I suppose what I’m saying is that the only reason this person shouldn’t have posted the joke is because of the risk of offending some people. And this person took said risk. There’s no great issue here. Yes, you are risking pissing people off. And, yes, you are also risking future employers seeing this joke and using that as a means of hiring you or not. But if you want to take the risk, there’s no problem with it.

      5. I agree with your second point of the risk. It is a risk to take especially since now employers are actually checking out future employees Facebook. However, rape can be a very sensitive subject to many and something that shouldn’t be so public. I get it’s a risk for the person to post such things, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s right.

  34. I am going to make no fans with my reply to this article. Absolutely none. Will probably even offend some people much like this simple Facebook comment said. While I agree that the joke made was not made in very good taste (although I myself have a few friends who might get a chuckle from the dark humor made there, perhaps even myself if I was in the right mood), I think he had every right to make the joke. What was wrong with him making that joke? Well, it is offensive. Yes, indeed, to many such a joke would be seen as extremely offensive. It pokes fun of and lowers the horror that is rape. Yes and no. Sure, it makes fun of it, but that one joke on its own will never lower the significance of rape. It is a horrible, dreadful act that leaves lives in shambles. But, in the end, the only reason this joke is bad is because it offends people. There are famous comedians who have based their entire lives on making offensive jokes.

    There are a few very rare instances where your freedom of speech is limited or leaves you open to risks. Let me give you an example. Danial Tosh of “Tosh.0” fame came under serious flak after one of his stand ups. He made the joke “rape jokes are always funny” at which point a woman stood up and berated him basically saying “no they aren’t.” Now, to be fair, she put herself into the hot seat. It is extremely in poor taste to interrupt any performance like she did. However, his reply was what got him the flak. He said, “wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, five guys right now? Like, right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…” It is at this point where you might be justified in signing petitions to get him fired and the like. However, he still had the right to say it.

    I’m not a rape supporter. To suggest that I am a rape supporter (as I am sure many of you will do anyway) simply because I support people’s right to say whatever stupid stuff they want to is unjust. I have two friends who have been raped, one of whom was raped almost three times in the course of her life. I would be the first one to call the police on any of my friends if they started to brag about how they sexually assaulted someone. I myself was blinded by righteous fury when I heard that joke Tosh made and even signed one of those petitions to get him fired (although I later regretted that decision when I calmed down and thought about things rationally). I may not be a rape supporter, but I am a supporter of the first amendment. This Facebook friend of yours was just sharing a joke, as stupid as it was. And, honestly, he had every right to share it. Just as you had every right to tell him off for it. But don’t go insinuating that he had no right to tell a rape joke just because it happened to be a rape joke.

    And to instantly assume that someone is a rape supporter because of a rape joke is even more outrageous. There are many MANY jokes which include very dark, touchy themes but do not result in those that enjoy it to be supporters of what they talk about. There are a large number of racist jokes out there which exist solely as shock humor. To those who don’t actually take the joke seriously, it is something of a satire of racism. Jokes like “why did the blacks run down the hill? There was a jail break!” do not instantly make those who laugh at it a supporter of racism. There may be racists who enjoy these jokes, yes, but there are many more who tell these jokes and laugh at them simply because of how outrageous, shocking, or offensive they are.

    Many jokes, as horrible as they are, exist because the world we live in is a dark, cruel place. Sometimes humor is the best way we can get past this. Jokes about racism, rape, murder, incest, and many more dark topics don’t exist because those who come up with them honestly believe in what the joke is telling. Sure, there may be some who do, but to assume that this is the case is a very gross generalization. These jokes exist because many people look for humor in the darkest of places to try and shed light on them. And we can’t simply throw these dark jokes aside simply because we find them offensive.

    Because the instant we suggest that people’s freedom of speech ends when someone else is offended, when someone’s words do not infringe on that person’s character but, instead, simply offend someone, we are opening a floodgate to a flood of what can and cannot be said. At that point, “freedom” will simply be there for tradition’s sake. And if that happens, god forbid, our speech will never be free. It will only be as free as those who hear it can tolerate it.

  35. While i understand your concern, and displeasure with the comment that was made based on your experiences, i do not see what the big deal is. I think that as a society, we are far too concerned on the focus to remain politically correct. At the end of the day, it was a facebook post, and you have the ability to ignore people and their comments. I also believe this post was intended to raise an eyebrow, or get a laugh, not aimed to be malicious. Everyone has subjects or topics that are touchy, or that may hit close to home. If you consider this person a friend, it might be worth mentioning why you didn’t appreciate it. I do not believe it is worth your time to get worked up about this topic. Though my opinion may not be popular, i think more people need to let things like this slide.

    1. The big deal with the status was that it was cruel and uncalled for joke or not. Facebook and other social media sites are permanent things, even if you delete the post. Even if the facebook friend did it as a joke to get people to laugh, I’m sure Chevera was not the only one who felt that it was wrong, she was the only one who had the guts to say something about it. Why should we let someone make a comment like that get away with it, but disagree and attack people who post things about gays, or any other sensitive subject? Sexual abuse is a big thing now, and it is becoming more and more common, but people are going to sit here and say a comment like that is okay? I don’t think so.

  36. Interesting blog. Comments like that are going to be on social media sites all the time and they are going to be everywhere. I do not thing the person meant to offended anyone but trying to make a harmless joke. Which in this case caused harm to you and you have every right to voice your thoughts on this but I think you may have took this persons comment a little too far. Also these comments are here to stay as of now just looking on my facebook page now I see a bunch of post making fun of people or groups or countries its the way things are now that a lot of people have access to the social media at there finger tips

    1. I agree with you andrewj2206 I think that people today are way to sensitive and they take everything that people say to heart. Yea maybe that joke was in bad taste but that’s just what it was a joke its not like he was trying to stick it to prostitutes or rape victims around the world. I think that jokes like that should be saved for private use and not be posted on the internet because it doesn’t make you look very good but again it was just a joke people need to realize that and stop being so sensitive about everything.

  37. After reading this blog, and some of the comments left, one thing that comes to mind is that the person who posted a status making jokes about prostitutes and shoplifting did not realize the harshness of his/her joke. Yes he/she probably thought it was funny, but another thing they are failing to realize is that it hurts to a person who has actually gone through it. I don’t think anyone is being ‘too sensitive’ about the post. Actually I think people do not care enough what this person said. It was a joke, but should it have been taken lightly? No, probably not. Thanks for sharing your story Chevara!

  38. Your article is an eye-opener. I truly respect your social activism and you standing up and defending what is right and just. Rape should never be taken lightly for it is not. Rape is a horrible thing, a true embarrassment to human kind. After so many years of evolution and all of the development in the world we still come back to an extremely primitive action to satisfy out animalistic needs. It is a shame and those responsible for it should be severely punished. We should all be aware of how often this occurs and how serious it is (or should be).

  39. Social networking is such a big deal in today’s society and people will do anything to be perceived as “funny”. People will make fun of the most inappropriate things just as long as they get laughs out of their followers or their Facebook friends. Which makes me SO mad. I know exactly what you’re talking about when it comes to those inappropriate Facebook posts. I have so much respect for you that you said something. I think it’s awesome you stood up for yourself and everyone else who didn’t have enough courage to say something about this inappropriate Facebook post. Social networking has become a way of life and if you’re not accepted on a certain social networking website then some people’s lives are over. You don’t have to be rude and cross the line to get approval from others that is NOT how life works and that shouldn’t be how society is. But unfortunately, that’s how our society works now days.

  40. After reading this article, I stopped, and just said wow. You made me think back to all of the times that I have read on social media websites about how people say stuff about things like rape and sexual thought. I think words today are being to loosely used on face book, twitter, etc. people say things and don’t mean them, but they don’t see how it can effect certain individuals that have been sexually assaulted simply because they don’t know. I wish more people had your courage to speak out about being raped. I feel like if more people came out that they were involved in some kind of sexual assault. We could do more to help prevent it, and hopefully put a stop to it. It doesn’t matter if your white, black, Hispanic, Asian, gay, straight, transgender, man ,woman. Nobody deserves to be raped and treated in such a heinous way.

  41. I agree with most of your points but disagree with others. Yes, rape is a very serious subject and should be approached delicately, it can destroy someones psyche and ruin their body for years to come. However, the joke that you brought up (“If a prostitute is raped, is it rape or shoplifting?) is just that; a joke. A joke in bad taste and about a very serious topic but at the end of the day no harm was meant from it. The person that typed it out and posted it was not doing it maliciously or meaning to emotionally scare anyone, they were attempting to get a laugh out of humor that they thought was funny. You take from it what you will, if you choose to be offended by this then I’m not going to say that you are wrong but ultimately it was just something for entertainment that was seen in the wrong light.

  42. This article really struck a nerve with me: not because I disagree, but because you are entirely correct and it’s sickening how so many people downplay the idea and action of rape so casually. This rape culture that society has created makes it seem okay to make ignorant comments to and about rape victims, ultimately allowing for these terrible acts to happen. Rape, sexual harassment, incest, or any other such crimes are not a joke. These incidents ruin people’s lives. It should not be taken lightly or joked about even if it is in “good fun”. For all you know, your stupid comments can trigger a terrible memory for a rape survivor. People need to realize that the reason women are so afraid to come out about their attack and get the help they so greatly need is because society belittles and jokes about these events and at times makes it seem like its “no big deal”. Women like the author need to continue to stand up for what they know to be right, and shame the ones who support this retched culture.

  43. I really got connected with the article because I dealt this in the past and it was not fun. Dealing with people abusing you over social media makes it were you don’t want to go back onto Facebook or other accounts ever again. Comments people leave, posts people put up, and things people share can effect people like me who is a rape survivor. People need to realize that the reason some people are afraid to come out about what they went through and find ways to receive help they need is because they are trapped in the social media world with jokes and other mean comments that make them seem like what they went though is nothing when it is. I feel like people who are hurt should stand up for them selves if they deal with social media abuse and express how they feel.

    1. I can agree with Tiffany on this topic, its really hard to open up on social media because of the fear that someone might criticize without knowing the whole story. Resulting in people making jokes or poking fun when someone is actually being honest about a life experience. I would like to be a part of a group like that on Facebook or other forms of social media but the backlash that could happen, even though sharing would be a helpful tool, is what hinders sharing.

  44. I will admit, at first glance, the sentence that can be said is “Did he really say that?” Some people might chuckle or just laugh but in the end a person that had to overcome the abuse would not think that the statement is very funny. It is just sad how desensitized we are as a people to think that a woman’s struggle is funny. The sad part is, the response that some would say is that it was just a joke or something along those lines. As a person that had to overcome that type of trauma people don’t really know the horrors that can transpire. It is a moment that can never be removed from your memory, no matter how hard you try to suppress. People really need to think before they post.

    1. See, here’s the thing…everyone handles trauma differently. I have met several rape survivors that find rape jokes funny and I myself am able to laugh at jokes on sexual assault and domestic violence even though I myself endured it.

      The problem isn’t that rape and sexual assault jokes can’t be funny, the problem is that some people don’t realize that you can’t fuck around with dark humor. If we were to try and tailor every single post we make online to offend nobody, we’d never post anything.

      In the end, despite what you might think, jokes are just that. Jokes. And, really, if done correctly, jokes on sexual assault could help bring just how bad it is to light. Poke fun of the people that do it, point out how crazy it is, shit like that. Humor is one of the ways humans process and deal with tragedy in our daily lives…I don’t see why rape has to be an exception.

  45. I completely agree and applaud this individual for taking action. Situations like this are never funny. no matter what. However, taking into consideration this post was made over five years ago, when seeing “jokes” like these were less common I see this quite often on social media. Similar situation happened to a mutual friend of mine who came across and offensive joke and was criticized for being offended. Today, most people are so desensitized and only concerned with how many likes a post receives and hardly anyone even considers the feeling of the individual on the other end of the spectrum.

  46. I completely agree. It’s wrong. People are out here making jokes about things that they may not have witnessed or dealt with so they would not understand. I believe that it was right for you to confront him about that post. However, I’ve always been a strong believe that, as Mills would say, one should look as the situation from a different perspective. Had he thought for one second about something traumatizing that he went through, or luckily didn’t go through, then he’s probably think twice before the post. For example, in Royal Oak, Michigan, there were middle schoolers screaming “build that wall” after trump got elected. Numerous of latinos started crying because they were scared or hurt by the fact that they would say that. However, I’m sure the kids meant it as a joke or not to hurt anyone, but it did! Had those kids thought about if their family members that could possibly face the idea of them being deported, then they too probably would have thought twice before they started shouting, “build that wall!”

  47. Living in the age of social media is hard because many people do not think before they post. Something pops into their head and they think, “hey I should post that,” not thinking about the people it will offend. When it comes to these misogynistic comments, society often tells us that “boys will be boys,” and that there is nothing they can do about it. The victim is more often then not blamed and we need to get out of that mentality. We tell our daughters to dress more modestly so they don’t get sexually assaulted when we should be teaching our sons not to rape. People say that if a boy was mean to you, that means he likes you. This teaches girls to think it’s okay for boys to be mean to them and may lead to them being victims of sexual assault. A girl may think that a boy sexually assaulting her is his way of showing that he likes her. We need to teach boys to respect woman online and off.

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