Category Archives: Mental Health

On the topic of rape jokes and DV jokes

CW: Discussion of rape jokes, rape, domestic violence, and DV jokes.

Please note, this is being written by a survivor of both domestic violence and rape. This is not a blanket statement for ALL survivors, this is specifically speaking from the point of a survivor using dark/gallows humor to heal from traumatic events. 

EDIT: Yes, this can be viewed as a way of upholding rape culture, and can cause issues, but at the same time we need to focus on how people heal and how they overcome situations, not blanket responses to everything.

When I was first recovering from the horrors that my rapist put me through, I would have readily agreed with anyone who said that rape jokes aren’t funny. Just the word ‘rape’ was enough to send me into a panic. Hearing someone talking about sexual assault could leave me catatonic. I would even verbally attack people for using the word rape. It wasn’t until I chose to take control and take power over the words and concepts surrounding my rape that I began to heal. I had no real support, my family didn’t believe I was raped when I started becoming vocal about it, and people accused me of just making it up. All because I could talk about what happened to me. So what did I do? Did I shut up? Did I go silent, like people said a “real” rape victim would actually act like?

FUCK NO!

I started speaking out even more, I started working towards bringing attention to what happens to victims who were unable to successfully prove their rapes. I voiced my disdain for the authorities that believed they knew what a real rape victim would look and act like. I voiced my anger at their dismissal of my claims, I voiced my anger at those who shamed me and tormented me over the repeated sexual assaults I went through. I also started telling rape jokes. Yes, you heard me right. I started telling rape jokes. I also started using the word when I was gaming, talking about how the guy I just beat into the ground was raped by my sword. It was a way for me to heal and to distance myself from the trauma I had endured.

If you are someone who has gone through a traumatic event, and are looking for a way to heal that is a little less…drastic, I would suggest checking out the book The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk M.D.

Now then, where were we? Ah yes, the rape jokes.

Before you go and clutch at your pearls in horror, let me explain something. I don’t just run out there and belt out rape jokes. I understand the concept of context. If I’m around people who I know won’t be comfortable with the jokes, I keep them to myself. I’m not going to walk into a support group for survivors and shout, “Who wants to play the rape game?” Do you know how many people I would have to dry hump if I did that? All of them would either shout “NO!” or freak out on me, and then I would have to play with all of them!

You see what I did there? Yes, I slipped a rape joke into my writing. I’m assuming that my audience would be able to understand that rape jokes would either appear or be talked about in this article due to the title! CONTEXT! As weird as it sounds, the jokes and taking over the word for my own usage helped me heal much faster and more effectively than the years and years of therapy that I went through. Perhaps it has to do with the chemicals my brain released when I made a joke that allowed me to stop viewing the topic with fear, and began being able to put little steps between myself and those events. I honestly don’t know.

I have used humor to heal many different times, and each time I’ve healed much faster than when I tried to keep a somber attitude. When I was trying to overcome the abuse I went through with my ex-husband and with a later ex-boyfriend, I joked about what happened; I put a humorous spin on the events.

“Well honey if you wanted the phone so badly you didn’t have to grab me by the hair and throw me to the ground, you could have just asked! Use your words, you’re a big boy!”

“Sure I’ll clean the house, take care of the newborn, cook dinner, and tend to my surgery site while you sit there and play video games , would you like me to slip into a little maid outfit with frilly panties as well?”

Granted, the humor was very sarcastic, but you can see how I started twisting events so that I could look at them with humor instead of pain and horror. But again, I’m not going to just go into a battered women’s shelter and start making these jokes, I look for the context of what is going on and who I’m dealing with. Sure, I could say fuck them and do what I want, but there are some things that I do like to be polite about….sometimes.

Ask them if they’ve ever laughed at an inappropriate joke.

So when someone tells you that rape jokes or jokes about domestic violence are never funny, no matter what the context, ask them why they feel that way. More than likely they will tell you something like how it spits on the victims of those crimes, how it belittles survivors. You know what you can ask them then? Ask them how many survivors they have discussed it with. Ask them if they’ve ever laughed at an inappropriate joke.

If they say they are a survivor and they don’t find them funny, then just leave it be, obviously they aren’t ready to distance themselves from the blanket of pain that they have wrapped themselves in. I can guarantee you though, that they have at some time laughed at what would be considered an inappropriate joke. If they say they never have, they are either lying or have been living under a rock their whole life.

Just because they don’t like the jokes that I tell, doesn’t mean that I should silence myself and stifle my way of healing. That is why I will continue to make the jokes, and why I will continue to use the terms and own them. It’s also why I will tell people who are complete assholes to bite the pillow, because baby, I’m going in dry tonight.

 

My thoughts on JK Rowling’s TERFness

So I decided to finally put my feelings and thoughts into words after reading Rowling’s various novels, posts, and tweets about trans people, specifically trans women. She made news back at the end of March by liking overly TERFy tweets, and then when called out attempted to blame it on a “middle age moment” and holding her phone wrong so she accidentally liked it. For those unaware of what is going on, here the article on it from Pink News.

As a trans person, seeing someone who is supposedly super pro-LGBT+ excluding a marginalized group from the movement can be harmful for one’s mental health, especially if the person being marginalized was in some way looking up to that person or even was finding solace in the fandom (because Rowling had made comments about LGBT people at Hogwarts, but apparently she didn’t mean trans people from how she talks).

Outside of personal feelings, there are numerous issues with how she presented the character in the Strike novels. (More info on the novels here and here) She used outdated and harmful stereotypes against trans people, stereotypes that get trans people outright murdered (claiming they’re just men in dresses, that they’re child molesters, that they’re going to hurt people because they’re hiding behind “being a woman”) or has had legislation passed against them treating them like a danger to society.

While it turned out that the one character wasn’t trans, the fact that that was her go to for the female first name played into the stereotypes and painted trans people in a negative light. Similar sorts of things were done to gay men back in the 50s and 60s (and up to today sadly) where they were secretly going to groom and molest your male children and “turn them gay”. We see it with other marginalized groups as well, a person from a middle eastern country is most likely going to be cast as a terrorist or a villain, an African American man is most likely cast as a “thug” or a gang member while the woman is cast as “sassy” or a single mom who is dependent on welfare.

By using the harmful stereotypes against marginalized groups, authors and film makers cause great harm to those groups, because people who read/watch that media often don’t realize that they’re incorrect stereotypes and take it on face value because it wouldn’t make sense for an author/film maker to do that unless it was true, right?

In one of her other novels in the Strike series, she has the main character threaten to have a trans character arrested and makes prison rape threats at the person. She also uses stereotypes about trans women being overly aggressive, or overly masculine and who are basically just again, men in dresses. (Discussed here)

And with things like I mentioned before, the anti-trans laws being put into place, or the fact that in the US there are 48 states where the trans panic defense is a valid murder defense, or the fact that reparative rape is still something suggested to “fix” trans men (like myself), having a famous author or film maker pushing harmful stereotypes like this does a lot of harm for the marginalized group.

So far there have been at least 8 trans people killed in 2018 alone, which adds to the myriad of reasons seeing a famous person touting anti-trans rhetoric or spreading transphobia as something to be frightening or problematic/cause for fear in the trans community.

There is more info here for other TERF actions if you’re interested.

So Duke University has made the news again, and thankfully it’s not another rape case.

So Duke University has made the news again, and thankfully it’s not another rape case.

However, I’ve noticed that the reason they’re in the news is causing a lot of pearl clutching and panic (and of course moral outrage) among certain groups of people who *ahem* tend to be less than friendly towards feminism or feminist theory. Trying to wade through the numerous articles, videos, vlogs, and um…whatever Alex Jones creates is a nearly Hurculean task.  Heck, trying to FACT CHECK the various articles about how Duke University is creating a “”safe space” for men to contemplate their “toxic masculinity”” is exceptionally difficult.

So I’m here to help out.

The main article being cited is the Washington Times’ article titled, ” Duke University launches ‘safe space’ for men to consider their ‘toxic masculinities’” which sadly, misses the point of what is actually going on.  The point passes so far above their heads it’s passing through the stratosphere. Now if you look at the article, it looks pretty damning, and it appears that they cite their sources repeatedly.

Not really…

You see, most of the links aren’t sources for their article, but links to their own paper ( as you can see here). They have one link to an article about the Duke Men’s Project, and if you follow that link you’ll discover that sadly, the Washington Times is more interested in sensationalism than actually reporting the truth.

Like a cherry picking apologist, they grab bits and pieces and move them about to make it look like Duke University is hosting some sort of evil feminist brainwashing scheme to make men learn how their masculinity is bad and they need to be accountable to feminism.  I’m not making this shit up. They’re seriously making it seem like there’s some sort of evil plot being hatched by the even more evil feminists to make men into…not men?

Just like a Christian apologist taking an atheist’s comments out of context, they grab a chunk of what is said and twist it into something entirely different from the truth.

So what is actually going on, you ask?

Essentially there is a group that is working to launch a nine-week long program called The Duke Men’s Project that “aims to discuss masculinity, feminism and intersectionality.”

Yeah, that’s pretty much it.

Even their Facebook page states that the Duke Men’s Project is “an initiative sponsored by the Duke Women’s Center to increase male allyship in gender equity and gender violence prevention.”

In layman’s terms, it’s mostly for male feminists and male allies, not all men.

It is a program that aims to focus on things that are typically viewed as part of what is known as toxic masculinity and how to recognize and work with them in hopes of creating a healthier view of masculinity than the one currently held by many people. Of the various topics covered, there will be discussions on the “language of dominance”, pornography, machismo, and rape culture.

According to their Facebook page, their intention “is to rework current narratives of masculinity for a healthier alternative; one that is inclusive, equitable and positive”.

For those who are interested, here are a few links to what toxic masculinity is:

“The Difference Between Toxic Masculinity and Being A Man”

“When Masculinity Fails Men”

Toxic masculinity

One of the big things that is being ignored by most of the people reporting on the Duke Men’s Project, is that it is based on a similar program that already exists at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Where was the outrage over that program? Is it because Duke University had that rape scandal? What makes Duke’s program so newsworthy? (Well aside from the fact that it’s pretty awesome to see something like this taking place)

The program isn’t meant to be this whole rigid “you will learn this!” sort of thing, but instead it aims to create an open dialogue and discussion about the topics. It is meant to get people to overcome the sense of passivity that often exists for male feminists and allies.

“It’s easy to say you’re a feminist but actually embodying what that means is a different story-it’s changing how you see the world, straying away from the savior complex that you get assigned from other people and recognizing that the labor we put in really pales in comparison to the labor all the other women have put in to this movement.”

-Tanner Johnson

Heck, they are even taking part in Breaking Out 2016, which is a photo exhibition at Duke University featuring students who are survivors of gender violence. It allows survivors to tell their stories (anonymously if desired) so that people can speak up in a culture that often focuses more on victim blaming and silencing victims ( especially male victims!).

If you want to actually know what it’s all about, you can read the interview done by the Duke Chronicle here or you can check out their Facebook page and even get clarification straight from them. Can’t get any closer to the truth than directly from the source, right?

So…who are you going to believe?

The people writing articles just to create moral panic?

Or the actual source?