Rape jokes are not humorous

The article “Rape Jokes Reveal Injustice” [Mar. 18] is a perfect example of why we need more education regarding rape culture and sexual violence. 

Joe Vautrin contends that comedian Hannibal Buress “helped bring a serial rapist [Bill Cosby] to justice … with a rape joke,” which just shows that Vautrin is uneducated about the nature of rape jokes. 

Not only are rape jokes offensive, but they are part of rape culture that condones sexual violence and belittles the seriousness of rape. 


Therefore, regardless of whether Buress’s comments resulted in punishment for Cosby or not, he was still contributing to a culture where rape is not taken seriously and people feel they can laugh at someone else’s trauma. We do not laugh at army veterans who come home with PTSD because they experience traumatic situations. Survivors of rape also can experience PTSD, so why do we feel that rape is a trauma we can laugh at?  The aftermath of sexual violence is often dismissed when it is no less important or real than the PTSD of army vets.

Vautrin concludes his piece saying, “We must put up with opinions and comments that we disagree with or find deeply offensive, because one day such opinions could be the only thing that bring truth to an injustice society is unwilling to face.”  We agree that people need to be able to have and discuss different opinions.  However, there is a difference between conducting a sincere conversation and making a real issue the butt of a joke.  This is why, according to Vautrin, “Comedians and feminists have almost always been at odds.”

Feminists are not opposed to comedy. Feminists are opposed to language that normalizes rape and diminishes the seriousness of sexual assault. Further demonstrating the need for increased education about sexual violence is the article that the Cynic published in March, “Reports of Sexual Assault Unusually High” [Mar. 18].

Sexual violence is one of the most underreported crimes.  The fact that there are more reports now does not mean that sexual violence is necessarily increasing on campus.  It means it is a problem we have always had that has simply gone unnoticed and underreported. Increased reporting indicates that the official number of crimes on campus is more reflective of the sexual violence occurring in our community.

If you would like to help in our educational peer programing and our work to dismantle rape culture on campus, SASA meets at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays in the Rosa Parks Room. Stand with us as we work to make our campus a safer and healthier community.


The Coalition of Students Against Sexual Violence