General Question

flo's avatar

At what point in history was making a rape joke etc., the most hateful, unthinkable?

Asked by flo (13313points) July 26th, 2012

The “etc.” in the question is important. In what decade were we the most advanced? Or is it advanced to make those kinds of jokes and debate whether is it okay to make jokes like that?

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30 Answers

Zyx's avatar

Most things are a lot less funny when there’s a war going on but that’s just an example. There is no limit to the amount of factors that can influence this and there have been more factors at play during all of history than any man could count. You’re trying to observe a single aspect of human nature across all of time. It can’t be done. If you want to get close to an answer you have to take in as much information about history as you can.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Personally, I think making a rape joke or a miscarriage joke (or dead baby joke) has always been hateful and unthinkable. Women have been raped and lost children since time began, and I think it is always cruel to make jokes about things like that, no matter the time period or world happenings.

blueiiznh's avatar

Making jokes about certain topics are just plain insensative as opposed to hateful.

Zyx's avatar


*calming down

cheebdragon's avatar

Rape is probably less funny today, than it was before women had any rights.

PhiNotPi's avatar

People have always been making rude / insensitive jokes. Always. Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet has a scene in which two guys are joking about some person being raped in her sleep. I’ll see if I can find the text.

Sunny2's avatar

I was going to suggest Shakespeare, who was quite bawdy if you understand the Elizabethan language of his day. A guide book is helpful.

PhiNotPi's avatar

Here is the full text of Romeo and Juliet. Do a Control+F and search for “O, then, I see Queen Mab”. You will see Mercutio’s long passage where he (an a roundabout way) making references to a woman being raped by a spirit.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I don’t think rape jokes are now considered the most hateful or unthinkable…

boffin's avatar

…Or is it advanced to make those kinds of jokes

I think that most jokes are made and therefore should be taken in the context of a given situation.
Remember, back in the early 70’s it worked for Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles.
“Rape, arson , murder, rape.”
“You said rape twice.”
“I like rape”

zenvelo's avatar

I think right now is when a rape joke is hated the most. Rape was not at all out of bounds for humor in the 70s, 80s, early 90s; it was tolerated as “bad taste but funny.”

Now it cannot be at all close as the subject of a joke.

YARNLADY's avatar

I doubt there is ever a point in history or the present for that matter when there weren’t people who think jokes like that are funny.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I guess I don’t understand the question. When is rape less or more hateful? It isn’t. It’s always disgusting and not a matter for jokes. I’m really missing something here.

tinyfaery's avatar

If we can’t laugh we cannot heal.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@tinyfaery Interesting point. Too bad there aren’t any good gallbladder jokes.

flo's avatar

Thanks everyone keep it coming I’m just going to going to get a link

Linda_Owl's avatar

Well, in 1991 a Republican millionaire named Clayton Powell made a joke about ‘rape’ by saying “usually it was after a woman changed her mind”. He also said that “any woman in a ‘rape’ circumstance should just lay back & enjoy it”. It outraged enough women in Texas that they actually elected a Democrat as Governor, Ann Richards – despite the fact that Texas is by far a Republican state. Rape jokes are NOT funny under any circumstances…. especially the recent Tosh O. joke where he suggested that two female audience members should be gang-raped as they were leaving.

gailcalled's avatar

I’m still stuck on “The ‘etc.’ in the question is important.”

Was there ever a time when the person who was raped found the joke funny? How can you quantify jokes about this as more or less hostile and cruel?

Nullo's avatar

It may be worth noting here that humor has always come at someone’s expense.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@gailcalled I know many rape survivors who find certain rape jokes hilarious, providing the butt of the joke is the rapist or rape culture, and not the victim.

gailcalled's avatar

@Aethelflaed: Anything is possible, of course. What I find interesting is that you know man rape survivors. I’ve been around the block a few times and know personally only three. They do not find the jokes hilarious.

bookish1's avatar

@gailcalled: Not everyone you know might reveal to you that they are a survivor.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@gailcalled Well, 1 in 4 women are victims of rape. I tend to be pretty vocal in my anti-rape views, and I’ve found if you create a safe space for victims to share, they often do. I also work with the local rape crisis center and with lots of activists fighting rape, which does tend to congregate lots of rape survivors and immediately put them in a place where they can share.

flo's avatar

Okay I’m still looking for the comedian who makes a point of sensitizing other comedians et al. about it. He used to be insensitive to it until his sister gave him a good talking to. She told him how everytime a rape victim hears a rape joke she feels she is glad she never reported it to the police, and/or told anyone for example… I did some Googling here to see his name.
I’m looking for his blog about it. He is one of those who used to be insensitive @blueiiznh but some people just insist on continuing to joke about it, debate about it, even after hearing how it is cruel who I can only categorize as hateful. There is a female comedian who was arguing with him on the show. It is as if she wasn’t there when he was talking.
I’ll continue to search it.

@gailcalled “etc.” I meant any cruel joke, rape just happens to be on the news because of these last week.

flo's avatar

@Aethelflaed Yes! Thank you. I heard him on a radio show who I don’t want to mention and debating with a comedienne I don’t want tot mention either.

flo's avatar

So, let me try and reword my question. I guess I understand if there were jokes about rape way way back then. I am thinking at what point in history, since women became more equal, esp. since the feminism movement, were women respected as human beings enough there would be none of the garbage (Family Guy, et al) we’re witnessing nowadays. Was it the 60’s 70’s 80’s, 90’s I can’t imagine hearing a comedian joking about rape in those decades.
@tinyfaery re. ”If we can’t laugh we cannot heal.” That is the excuse these “comedians” offer. They are healing their pocket books.

gailcalled's avatar

@flo: What was permissible on radio and TV, the only other media before the computer and the offshoots, was very different from what some of the stand-up comedians were doing.

See, for example, Lenny Bruce

He was really a social satirist.

As far as I can remember, he had troubles with obscenity and drugs and did not riff on rape, abortion and the Holocaust.

flo's avatar

@gailcalled so I’m not sure what your conclusion is because I’m talking in general. When would people who would make jokes about, 9/11 or Tsunami rape etc. have been considered sociopaths? When were we at our most sensible/civilized?

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Are you kidding? Rape is still the butt of jokes. Check out any of the late night comedians. They routinely make fun of rape and the audience heartily laughs right along. Or the Comedy Channel. Jesus, there is a rape joke at least ten times a day there. Female comedians love rape jokes. The audience loves them, can’t get enough!

Male on male rape in prisons is hillarious, didn’t you know that?

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