The deep-seated Rape Culture that we live in, is just that. It is all around us, but we are inside of it and it rears its ugly head at all of us, in all forms, sizes, and shapes. Steak and Blow Job Day--yes this is a holiday. Another moronic example of the various ways that Rape Culture affects our society.
I am not here to list all of the ways in which rape is joked about in media because that could be a never ending list and each could be their own never-ending article. There is one particular type of rape joke that I would like to shed a little light on, that I see time and time again in media across the board. No matter what the nature of the relationship is, one party in a sexual relationship enjoys sex more than the other.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “but how is that characteristic a rape joke?” While this character dynamic may seem harmless to the naked eye, it is actually incredibly hurtful and perpetuates Rape Culture. Of course, some individuals have a stronger sex drive than others, and this is often true of two individuals that are engaged in a sexual relationship with each other. That is totally healthy, as long as when sexual activity is engaged, that both parties are “in the mood,” also known as a little thing called consent.
As a lifelong film, television and general media fanatic, I have grown up watching countless television shows and movies that use rape as a joke in this way. Most often, we see this harmful dynamic used between two characters who are engaged in a heterosexual cis-gender relationship. It is not only heterosexual cis relationships that we see this dynamic and this notion is not exclusive to women. However, we all know that heterosexual, cis-gendered relationships are what get all of the play in mainstream media. To throw a few examples out, you can easily find these unfortunate dynamics in popular programs and movies such as Scrubs, Extract, Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, That 70s Show, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Everybody Loves Raymond and many more of your problematic favorites.
This usually occurs on mainstream TV sitcoms within a marriage and you bet your ass, nine times out of ten that the individual who doesn’t like sex is the woman in the relationship.
This notion is problematic for various reasons. For starters, it is ludicrous to always portray women in media as non-sexual beings. Unless of course, the character is purposely subversive, which would mean that the writers would be going for a “cool girl” character trope which is its own incredibly harmful representation of rape culture—but that conversation deserves its own article. Despite popular belief, WOMEN ENJOY SEX. When we have sex, it is not because it is our obligation to please our partner and not to meet a certain quota by the end of each month.
Equally as important if not more, is the root of the problem in this relationship dynamic in our media. Which is that the notion that women or any individual are empty vessels for other people’s sexual pleasure or for reproduction, and that we simply endure this as a natural way of the world.
There is a blunter way in which this dynamic is portrayed in media but often looked over by viewers. Picture this: you’re watching your favorite sitcom and the main characters, usually a married man and woman, are going to bed and the man insinuates that he wants to have sex in some hopeful, childish, guilt tripping way. The wife rolls their eyes, protests for a while and then usually says something along the lines of “I’m going to sleep but do whatever you want to me.” The husband jumps for joy, like a kid in a candy store. Cue laugh track, fade out.
Wait…that is rape.
We as human beings have the right to have sex or not have sex, and we have a right to have sex when we want it, not just because our partner, or anyone for that matter, is trying to convince you. 46.7% of female rape victims in America are assaulted by someone they know, and 45.4% of their assailants are an intimate partner. These harmful jokes in our entertainment normalize and perpetuate intimate partner sexual violence. Stop using rape for laughs, and stop sitting idly by when others do so.
Whoever you are, your body belongs to no one except you.