By Analaura Amezquita
A 17-year-old girl is browsing through social media when she sees a picture on a boy’s feed with a caption that reads “What a savage.” The image? A girl laying on her stomach facing away from the camera and a friend who says, “Rape her.”
When she confronts him, the boy tells her to “calm down” – that it is just “dark humor” she is “taking too seriously.”
But rape is not a joke. And she would know.
A few weeks earlier when she took the bus at 8:33 pm, she felt the piercing gaze of a man before she saw him.
It was like a dagger, killing every thought of her ever getting home safely. Like an x-ray, seeing more than she wanted him to see.
She turned her brunette head slowly, and immediately his coal-like eyes met her chocolate ones in a stare that was just like a lion staring at a deer.
He looked at her in a way no young girl should ever be looked at.
She snapped away from his paralyzing eyes, and her cheeks filled with a color that rivaled her bright red shirt. The man made a cacophony of sounds in order to get her attention once more. Banging his feet, muttering incoherent words in her direction, and pointing towards her continuously. And everyone around her ignored it.
When the bus reached her stop, she rushed off and the shadows of the night clung onto her body as she walked the rest of the way home, shell-shocked.
As soon as she opened the door, she was greeted with her mother’s bright smile.
Then, she wept.
Despite that experience, she knew she had been one of the fortunate ones where no physical attack had taken place. Others that same night across the country were left with scars that would never fully heal.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, every 98 seconds another American is sexually assaulted, and according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than five million people a year are violated.
The concept of rape is not a joke, because real people experience it, and though it may seem like common sense to not joke about a crime that damages people forever, individuals still continue to believe it should just be classified as dark humor.
Many defend their jokes by saying it’s a form of free speech, but even though you are allowed to express your opinions, making light of a situation that is full of darkness is unacceptable because you are diminishing the agony of a person who experienced it.
Those who make rape jokes involuntarily normalize sexual assault and endorse a rape culture. That culture plays a part in allowing a rapist to believe that the crime they have committed is acceptable, and it discourages victims from coming forward because their pain would only be used for comic relief.
Call it dark humor or call it freedom of speech, but before making rape into a joke, think about the repercussions and the pain it inflicts on people you care about.
That boy was my friend.
And the pain he made fun of was my own.