by Shaker Milli A
[Trigger warning for rape used in a "humorous" capacity.]
This is why, as a feminist, I barely have a sense of humor.
Yesterday's Penny Arcade,a webcomic centered around video gaming and its culture, featured a joke a lot of World of Warcraft players make, in a sense. In WoW, you'll often get quests like "Kill 10 of these terrible people" or "Save five prisoners". Because the game has millions of players all existing in the world who will do that quest, even if you kill all the bad guys and free everyone, they'll reappear against quickly, so the next person can do their good deeds. It's a silly conundrum if you let your suspension of disbelief lapse.
Penny Arcade took it to another level. In a strip titled, "The Sixth Slave," the comic features a (white, male) slave begging for rescue from another character. "Hero!" he pleads. "Please take me with you! Release me from this hell unending! Every morning, we are roused by savage blows. Every night, we are raped to sleep by the dickwolves." The hero tells him, "I only needed to save five slaves. Alright? Quest complete." The prisoner protests, "But…" The hero interrupts him, "Hey, pal. Don't make this weird."
Rape isn't a part of the game, so for the slave to explicitly state he is being raped is a "humorous" exaggeration. When he hero tells the slave his quest is complete and instructs him not to make it "weird," we're meant to laugh: "Haha, what a strange underreaction!" (Or not.)
When I have a sense of humor, it is a little offbeat. I have liked, for example, Penny Arcade's comics about the numerous times they've killed each other. I have a dark sense of humor, and I'll admit it.
But unlike Gabe killing Tycho so he doesn't have to share a video game, a slave being raped is a real thing that happens in the world every day. I don't find this "joke" funny because, unlike characters cartoonishly killing each other repeatedly and coming back to life, just as in video games, rape isn't a central feature of (most) games—at least in the actual gameplay, totally aside from the language used by players.
The problem is, I just don't find rape funny. Because rape survivors exist among us, and after being victimized by rapists, they are revictimized by a society that treats even real rape like a joke, forced to live in a culture that actually has a lot of rape jokes, including those about rape victims being actively denied justice for no other reason than because people don't take rape seriously. I don't find rape funny because rape victims are often doubted, mocked, and insulted openly.
This is why I avoid comedy. I don't go to comedy movies, I rarely watch comedians, I avoid sitcoms like the plague. I've started to develop a Pavlovian response, cringing preemptively, to things I do find funny, because if somebody makes a dark joke, I've learned it won't be long until the rape jokes show up.
This is why I'm a humorless feminist. Because rape jokes killed my sense of humor.
[Rape is Hilarious: Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen, Eighteen, Nineteen, Twenty, Twenty-One, Twenty-Two, Twenty-Three, Twenty-Four, Twenty-Five, Twenty-Six, Twenty-Seven, Twenty-Eight, Twenty-Nine, Thirty, Thirty-One, Thirty-Two, Thirty-Three, Thirty-Four, Thirty-Five, Thirty-Six, Thirty-Seven, Thirty-Eight, Thirty-Nine, Forty, Forty-One, Forty Two, Forty-Three, Forty-Four, Forty-Five, Forty-Six, Forty-Seven, Forty-Eight, Forty-Nine, Fifty, Fifty-One, Fifty-Two.]