Rape jokes and me

I could smell the rape joke coming, before anyone opened their mouths.

I was in improv class this week and we were playing a game called “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,” wherein the audience asks the panel of judges an advice question. One judge gives a good answer. One gives a bad answer. One gives an ugly answer.

The question was “How do I get to second base with my girlfriend?”

I sat in audience section shaking my head, because I felt it was inevitable. And I was right.

The Good Judge said something about taking the girl to a movie. The Bad Judge said to get her drunk. The Ugly Judge said chloroform.

The guys laughed and laughed. It was just another hilarious sex joke.
As the only female in the building — someone who has a 1 in 4 chance of being sexually assaulted — I hung my head.

I wanted to do something. I wanted to storm out or preach a sermon. But I didn’t. I know what happens when women speak out against this stuff. They’re labelled as prudes with no sense of humour. They become unwelcome in the comedy community.

So we just moved on, as though everything was okay. It was not okay. Nothing about the scene was okay. The fact that rape is an easy, go-to joke is not okay. But I told myself these guys are harmless, and that their disgusting jokes are a product of larger social issues.

I don’t feel good about the way I handled it, and I’m not sure I have the answers for what to do in the future. And maybe that’s the point. It isn’t easy to reach equality; it’s messy and uncomfortable, and sometimes the consequences of fighting for respect are heavy and unfair. But we press on.

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