I don’t know if rape jokes encourage rape culture. I don’t care. You still shouldn’t tell them.
Statistically, if you have told a rape joke to a group of more than five people, one of the people you told it to was a rape survivor, possibly of multiple rapes. They will not necessarily disclose this to you; rape apologism is endemic in society and most rape survivors are cautious about whom they tell. Some may even be too ashamed of their rape to admit it to anyone, or because of rape-minimizing narratives like “men can’t be raped” and “I consented to oral, so I couldn’t have been raped” may not admit it even to themselves. The fact remains: if you’ve told dozens of rape jokes in your life, then you have almost certainly told a joke that minimizes or trivializes rape in front of a survivor.
And if you put as your Facebook status “I totally raped at Halo today” for your two hundred Facebook friends to see, statistically, you have just reminded thirty-three people of one of the worst experiences of their entire lives.
I sputtered, I nevered, and I denied it, but it was true. I had become obsessed with Girls Around Me, an app that perfectly distills many of the most worrying issues related to social networking, privacy and the rise of the smartphone into a perfect case study that anyone can understand.
It’s an app that can be interpreted many ways. It is as innocent as it is insidious; it is just as likely to be reacted to with laughter as it is with tears; it is as much of a novelty as it has the potential to be used a tool for rapists and stalkers.
And more than anything, it’s a wake-up call about privacy.