I’ve seen it called absurdist humor. The idea that rape is funny because it is unthinkable. I’ve believed it myself. Told jokes like “what’s better than twenty-six year old’s? Twenty six year old’s.” As a victim of child rape myself, I might have even found it cathartic at times. Laughing at the sheer wrongness of it. But that was an younger me and the older me tries to remember that my views on absurdity are not reflected in the culture I live in.
Absurdist humor works best if the subject is actually absurd. If the subject is universally (within its complete audience) considered unthinkable.
Rape isn’t absurd. People like to rape. People even like to videotape themselves raping others and displaying it for the world to see.
Rape is a reality for many, many MANY people. In all likelihood someone hearing your rape joke is either a victim or a rapist. Maybe a potential rapist, or an eventual victim. Chances are your joke about banging the passed out neighbor is going to influence your audience. If not the rapists listening then likely the victims into believing it was their fault.
The question is do you care? Are cheap laughs worth hurting others to you? Obviously some people think the cost is minimal when they knowingly encourage others to assault women on video for the world to laugh at. When they stand on stage and repeatedly brag about their prowess as a rapist pressuring the audience to see them as both protagonist and rapist. When they video tape themselves making horrifying jokes about how dead and raped a teen girl is.
All the above examples are of people just trying to be funny. Just trying to make people laugh. Recently we’ve seen Jim Norton attempt to defend people’s rights to rape humor* as long as the intent is to make others laugh. And don’t think for a second these jokes were unsuccessful to their target audience.
But who’s laughing at these jokes though? If you’re lucky, everyone is like me laughing at perceived absurdity. More likely, a portion of every comedy audience is willing to participate in sexual assault because they think violating others is hilarious.
And most importantly, while pandering to rapists, you may also be creating future rapists.
But do you care?
*as if targeting advertisers is somehow stripping someone of their rights to to create bad jokes