Rape Jokes Are Never OK; Call Someone Out on Them

My first youth tip was long in the making. Without any idea what to say, I decided the most valuable and hardest piece of advice had to come first. 

Rape jokes are never acceptable. 

It doesn’t matter who is telling you the rape joke. 

Something counts as a rape joke if someone “jokes” about:

1) Raping a female of any age.  See: Animal House.

2) Raping a male of any age. Again: Animal House.

3) Using alcohol and/or drugs (roofies, cocaine, so on) to get a man or woman so impaired, he or she cannot say no. Or any result of getting laid because someone was under the influence. See: Superbad . Which I think has hysterical moments like the guy using a fake ID called McLovin. Let’s get real though. The storyline about them getting girls drunk for “consensual...” sex is wrong.

4) Getting someone pregnant when you have never dated the person or flirted with him or her, much less had sexual contact with him or her.

5) Touching your body parts. 

6) Complimenting your body parts and other bits (lips, etc). Not entirely a rape joke but in the realm of rape jokes because when you call someone out, that person almost always says they were “just joking! Calm down!”


The person who doesn’t drop the joke. You’ve half jokingly back said no in some regard. The person keeps, jokingly or not, pressing on.

By definition, actual rape is when someone doesn’t consent to sex, and you go for it anyway. What does it say about you that someone does that in a joke form?

Sigmund Freud believed jokes were half true. A former friend of mine, possibly amongst the few guys I’ve ever liked in my life who reminded me of Luke Skywalker, and you know my thing for Luke Skywalker types :), used to say, “Half of what we joke about is our innermost desires.  Half of what we joke about is true. Never let anyone tell you a joke you feel uncomfortable with because he definitely means it. He’s not gonna say he means it. He does. He totally does. He might not think  he means it—he does!”

This is a fellow younger than I am with wise words I wish I came up with. 

Rape jokes or jokes falling into a rape category, and to me they’re rape jokes period, are inexcusable.

But the tellers of rape jokes will always put the blame on you, like those who actually do rape. 

When you call someone out for a rape joke, they’ll say things like: 

”You don’t have a sense of humor.” 

”Really? Last week, you joked, ‘Haven’t you heard the rumor about me dating every person I eat lunch with?’ Why is that OK? But my joke isn’t?” 

“Last year, you said this joke about my kid [insert old Chicago lady comment uttered to me by a million old people about dating their grandsons when I was 15 to present; same joke is said in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog  at the end about Tia’s BFF waiting for her prince dancing with a kid]. We all need better perspective.”

No, I don’t need better perspective. Because I can joke about something said in a Disney movie you may or may not like, but I never once included a part about someone else making decisions with your kid’s body against his or her will.

I can joke about people incorrectly assuming I’m dating everyone I sit with at a lunch table because it’s half true. People are fools who honestly believe if I dine alone with someone, I’m dating them. Some girls I meet tell me, “Same! People think I date my own sister!” Or brother. Dad. Uncle. It happens. And Freud is right. I joke because I halfway mean it.

I joke about people thinking I’m a bad influence because in life, a million people have thought because I’m standing somewhere, I want to date their boyfriends and husbands. Or because I shake someone’s hand and happen to wear a dress or skirt the day by chance I meet someone, I’m sexually interested in their boyfriend. 

My jokes about people thinking I’m dating someone anyway are told by me about my own body. Maybe you’re missing something, jerks of the world. I can make any joke I want about my own body. You cannot.

I can joke about myself being anything or anyone else doing something. You are not allowed  to excuse your poor behavior making rape jokes about me, or someone else, but almost always rape jokes are directed towards you, because I told a comedy club type joke about myself, used self deprecating humor, or repeated something I heard in a G rated movie that maybe came off PG rated to you. Ever.  Don’t fake offense and say, “It’s not OK I told a rape joke but I didn’t mean it, and you said ____ in 2014.”

Funny. Often, the same people making disrespectful jokes about someone have tried flirting with you unsuccessfully so they try to rephrase it in a joke. Now, while obnoxious, I could tolerate that better phrased like, “What if we went to prom together?!” Joking about getting me under the influence or impregnating me, and certainly impregnating me when I’ve repeatedly half jokingly tried to make it stop, is horrible.

”If someone else told it, you’d think it is a funny joke.” 

No, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t care if Angelina Jolie told it. Her being pretty, super cool, successful, and a woman wouldn’t make a rape joke funny. 

”Younger people are the worst about humor.” 

First, I’m not in my 20’s. Whether I’m super young anymore is hard to know. Secondly, I’m down for a Comedy Central Roast. I can take it. I in life meet some people with humor so inappropriate, it wouldn’t fly in a PG-13 Disney film. What I don’t tolerate is people making sexualized jokes about my body and what can be done with it. And most definitely, I don’t tolerate rape jokes told by you about you doing something to my body.

It doesn’t matter who someone is or how nice that person has been to you until today. That person a moment ago told you a rape joke. Does that count as nice? 

Would you remain friends with a co-worker or classmate who was always nice but one day told you, “For real. I chopped up our friend Danielle. She’s in the backseat. Please help me bury her body. Please?”

No, you wouldn’t. 

Would you let a high school teacher joke about raping one of your friends and say, “I shouldn’t turn him into the principal’s office because he is my role model and always nice to me...” would you? No. You should not.

It doesn’t matter if the person was nice to you for a year or more. That friend, teacher, employer, classmate, co-worker, or someone you thought was OK today told you a rape joke. Tell them it’s not OK. You are upset and disgusted. Then turn them in, if you can, whatever that means to you. 

Telling rape jokes isn’t normal, no matter how one excuses it. You know something is very wrong because these are jokes and comments made that one would not say to most people.

When I was 12, I had favorite teachers. One was my science teacher. She inspired me to love science. I would have never gone up to her and said, “What if I made out with you right now?” Or, “Your lips are so beautiful.” 

Maybe I could say, “You’re so cool! You’ve inspired me to love science for life and have taught me I can wear hot pink lipstick like you looking cute and still be an all out nerd. That being female and intellectual are not opposites.”

I would today never go up to my favorite director Peter Jackson, the day I meet him, and say, “You’re such a stunning man. I wish I could get my hands all over you.”

I could maybe tell another gentleman, “I love how you present yourself as really handsome and stylish against the movie director stereotype. I’d love to do whatever you do but in female style.” Because it’s not creepy. I’m not complimenting his body parts or suggesting I want to do something to his body.

Would you tell that man taking your order at the Olive Garden, “A small salad. By the way, your legs are amazing?” No. Body part. Creep factor! And not the time and place!

If you already haven’t, cut off all contact with people telling rape jokes. 

Someone who jokes about rape, no matter what they say, thinks rape situations are funny. 

That person could actually rape YOU .  Don’t believe what they say. I’ve never joked about raping a director or favorite musician I admire when I meet them. My teachers. People I meet working at the supermarket.

It hurts worse when you’ve told someone about something happening to you, and that person either conveniently forgot or pretends not to remember you’ve told them prior to the rape joke. 

Avoid meeting the teller of the rape joke in person. Remove them off all social media. If you have a problem like sharing a class with someone in ninth grade, start by sitting far away from them and demand to the principal, “Either he/she leaves, you put me in another class, or you help me talk it out with the teacher because I shouldn’t be next to someone in class who jokes like that.”

Do that if you work at a sandwich shop or an office. 

Tell the boss if on a film set. 

Tell friends and family about who told you a rape joke so they’re aware of it. This is particularly important if the person works with you or goes to your school. Lives in your city. People joke about things they mean, like Freud says. Don’t you half mean it when you say things like you wish you had done _______?  I do! When I’ve told my family about jokes like me being off on tour next week unavailable for dinner, it’s because I’m a lifelong fan of people like Pharrell Williams and Justin Timberlake. My heart feels for it!

How do I wrap this up? 

I don’t know how to end this other than by saying,  nothing about rape jokes excuses why they are told or who tells them. People often joke about what they mean. Believe when a person jokes about rape or impregnating you.... Tell someone! Tell them off. Distance yourself. Never believe their lies about why it’s OK to tell you that “joke.”

Stay safe. Always!