When is it ok to make a rape joke?

The whole Penny Arcade “dickwolves” thing has got me thinking about rape jokes.  One camp says that rape jokes are never funny, and others believe there is maybe some wiggle room depending on context.  I see the value in humor that is edgy or even offensive.  That’s why I don’t think I can belong to the first camp.  Still, there should be some guidelines for understanding how and when rape jokes should be used and some sort of criteria to help comedians decide whether a rape joke is a “good” one or a really terrible one.

That led to this flowchart.  I made it quickly, so it’s far from a finished product.  Love to know what you guys think.


  1. Where do you even begin to think you have the authority to make this kind of a post, let alone this kind of judgment?

    “I have a bit of a background doing comedy…” Fine. You can be the authority on when it’s okay to make jokes about comedians.

    This is like making a judgment on when it’s okay to make a Holocaust joke when you’re not a survivor. Or when it is okay to make a pedophilia joke when you haven’t been molested.

    I follow this blog because I think you usually have something worthwhile to say. But right now you really just need to get a clue.


    1. Because everyone expressing opinions online is doing so at the expense of other people expressing opinions? People don’t have to pass some sort of ‘authority’ test beyond whether what they’re saying makes sense. Saying that people who aren’t rape victims have no place in this conversation is absurd. No one has to walk around with some sort of rape medal to be able to talk about this.

      Anyway, I think that I basically agree with the flowchart, let me see if I can find my Rape Victim Approved stamp. It’s good to see your name mentions the football team led by a guy who has been accused of sexual assault multiple times, it just adds to the epic win of your comment.


      1. “rape medal” – that’s an inappropriate rape joke right there. Since you seem to have read Leah’s flow chart, you should already know that making light of rape survivors’ experience is a no.


  2. I would just like to respectfully say that I have never “come out” about whether or not I am a rape survivor or have been the victim of molestation (I think?). I think I probably have come out about being the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, but regardless, I’d appreciate it if people could refrain from making assumptions about my past.

    I’m not trying to make an authoritative judgment or be the ultimate arbiter of rape jokes. No one can fill that role.

    However, as someone who enjoys offensive humor (even about the Holocaust) I was trying to use this flowchart to help myself organize my own feelings on the subject. I tried to think about why some jokes offend me and others do not, and this is the map of my thinking. I do not expect everyone to agree with it – and if you don’t, I’d love to hear alternative ideas or criteria for what makes a joke offensive or not to you.


  3. I’ve enjoyed some rape jokes that to me have been more about rape myths and rape culture, playing on common attitudes to women who get raped. These can be tricky though as I think not everyone is getting the same punchline as me, if you see what I mean, and that does make me uneasy.

    Thanks for the thoughts anyway.


  4. I actually think this flowchart is really helpful in understanding why some rape jokes can be seen as black humour whereas others are simply insults.

    The jrock community (who have a BIG problem with over-use of rape jokes) could do with applying this flowchart to themselves whenever they think of a rape joke!


  5. When/where/with whom it is okay to fart. If they can take your fart, they can take your joke. Hahaha, that was funny.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s