On Rape Jokes and Sensitivity

KriticalKiwi

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There is one very large difference between murder and rape that needs to be pointed out. There are people out there, who have personally experienced being raped, who's lives are irrevocably changed by this massive trauma in their past. I won't go into detail about how rape is traumatising, but I think we can all agree that it's a pretty big deal, and most of the time, the perpetrator gets away scott free. To hear about rape in everyday conversation as a joke, just belittles the horrific pain these individuals have gone through. The "rape joke" culture is the culture that blames the victim, lets the persecutor get away, and dismisses the whole problem as just "one of those things."

The reason I don't stand for rape jokes is because the chances of someone you know and love having being sexually abused at some point in their life are scarily high, and I won't be a part of anything that allows this sort of horrific problem to continue.

You can't say "It's just jokes, there's no real harm." If anyone within earshot is a victim, it perpetuates the attitude that has been placed in their mind that it's their fault, or that they are stupid to make a fuss about it.

It's wrong, it happens far too often, and as a society we should be sending a clear message, one that blames and demonises perpetrators and doesn't belittle victims.
 

SsilverR

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Abomination said:
Seems to be that if enough women kick up a stink about something and say something is the worst thing ever other people will feel compelled to believe.

Men just tend to sit back and nod because it beats arguing.

What's more funny? Rape jokes, dead baby jokes or slavery jokes?
THAT and alot of men support the claim of rape being worst than murder for female approval.

People need to get it into their heads that rape is nowhere near murder, NOWHERE NEAR! and how tons of murder/dead baby jokes fly under the radar while rape its own special exception is baffling to me.
 

SsilverR

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KriticalKiwi said:
There is one very large difference between murder and rape that needs to be pointed out. There are people out there, who have personally experienced being raped, who's lives are irrevocably changed by this massive trauma in their past. I won't go into detail about how rape is traumatising, but I think we can all agree that it's a pretty big deal, and most of the time, the perpetrator gets away scott free. To hear about rape in everyday conversation as a joke, just belittles the horrific pain these individuals have gone through. The "rape joke" culture is the culture that blames the victim, lets the persecutor get away, and dismisses the whole problem as just "one of those things."

The reason I don't stand for rape jokes is because the chances of someone you know and love having being sexually abused at some point in their life are scarily high, and I won't be a part of anything that allows this sort of horrific problem to continue.

You can't say "It's just jokes, there's no real harm." If anyone within earshot is a victim, it perpetuates the attitude that has been placed in their mind that it's their fault, or that they are stupid to make a fuss about it.

It's wrong, it happens far too often, and as a society we should be sending a clear message, one that blames and demonises perpetrators and doesn't belittle victims.
Yes, but at least you're still alive to feel these emotions and even alot of victims tend to agree.
If someone had a gun to your head and you had to choose rape or death I guarantee you'd choose rape, because death (murder) is worst, rape isn't the only crime to cause massive emotional trauma, humans are varied and some get over it faster than others, I know girls who've been raped and have almost taken it in their stride, nothing but anger, no sorrow.
 

KriticalKiwi

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SsilverR said:
KriticalKiwi said:
There is one very large difference between murder and rape that needs to be pointed out. There are people out there, who have personally experienced being raped, who's lives are irrevocably changed by this massive trauma in their past. I won't go into detail about how rape is traumatising, but I think we can all agree that it's a pretty big deal, and most of the time, the perpetrator gets away scott free. To hear about rape in everyday conversation as a joke, just belittles the horrific pain these individuals have gone through. The "rape joke" culture is the culture that blames the victim, lets the persecutor get away, and dismisses the whole problem as just "one of those things."

The reason I don't stand for rape jokes is because the chances of someone you know and love having being sexually abused at some point in their life are scarily high, and I won't be a part of anything that allows this sort of horrific problem to continue.

You can't say "It's just jokes, there's no real harm." If anyone within earshot is a victim, it perpetuates the attitude that has been placed in their mind that it's their fault, or that they are stupid to make a fuss about it.

It's wrong, it happens far too often, and as a society we should be sending a clear message, one that blames and demonises perpetrators and doesn't belittle victims.
Yes, but at least you're still alive to feel these emotions and even alot of victims tend to agree.
If someone had a gun to your head and you had to choose rape or death I guarantee you'd choose rape, because death (murder) is worst, rape isn't the only crime to cause massive emotional trauma, humans are varied and some get over it faster than others, I know girls who've been raped and have almost taken it in their stride, nothing but anger, no sorrow.
Some take it in their stride, some don't. My point was that you can't really compare jokes about murder and jokes about rape. A hefty chunk of the population live with the backlash of rape on a day to day basis, the same is not true with murder. Once you're dead, you're dead. I realise that this isn't universally true, and there are people who have witnessed murder, or have had loved ones killed, for whom jokes about murder are traumatic. But there's something much more powerful about having a horrific act done to you. By making these jokes you incite further trauma, and perpetuate the broken culture that allows rape to continue so callously in our culture.
 

Bruce

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Dark humour is very difficult to do well, and there are not terribly many acts that are darker than rape. It is the one unjustifiable crime.

Rape jokes generally come off about as funny as torturing a Yorkshire terrier. Generally the joke isn't going to make you laugh, it is going to make you feel that the person making it is a terrible person who you probably shouldn't trust around your pets.
 

Thaluikhain

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SsilverR said:
If someone had a gun to your head and you had to choose rape or death I guarantee you'd choose rape, because death (murder) is worst,
This is contrary to the experiences of large numbers of rape survivors, who would have preferred death at the time.
 

darkstarangel

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The only thing I can put it down to is that for the past 40 or so years Slasher flicks have been glorifying gore & violence that the mainstream media is practically desensitised to it. Even to the point where death & gore can be parodied. And even though such films usually contain a lot of sex, even dying during the act, the two were never combined. Jason or michael myers never raped their victims just slaughtered them.

I think its also to do with, as you mentioned, the psychological trauma involved. Murdering someone with lots of blood & guts is somewhat satirical. Its never realistic. And films that borderline realistic dont usually have that humour aspect but indent more to shock, which is pretty much the same effect as a rape film. I guess a lot of people dont ever want the public to not take rape seriously. Someone wrote an article here on the escapist a while ago who was a rape victim & he described how just hearing the word, even in a completely nonsensical sense (like, "I just raped that exam"), triggered the same fear & trembles he got when IT happened. After reading that I try to be more sensitive as to what I write online, even though me & my friends occasionally use it in that nonsensical context (like exams).

In short, I think its like the difference making a joke just to stir a mate & making a joke out of spite. Its the intention behind it. Thats the best I can come up with, other than asserting the idea that death & murder isn't something that shouldn't have been trivialised to begin with & both are equally as bad. Its just our developing culture has selected one & forbidden the other.
 

MeChaNiZ3D

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Honestly, I think it comes down to women mainly being the victims of rape and thus rape being one of the things that offends a group that think themselves underpowered in society. I have no idea why it isn't brushed off as part of a joke in the same way literally everything else is, like the Holocaust, a famously controversial and often in poor taste subject of jokes that nevertheless has not spawned a single thread on here in recent memory.

KriticalKiwi said:
There is one very large difference between murder and rape that needs to be pointed out. There are people out there, who have personally experienced being raped, who's lives are irrevocably changed by this massive trauma in their past. I won't go into detail about how rape is traumatising, but I think we can all agree that it's a pretty big deal, and most of the time, the perpetrator gets away scott free. To hear about rape in everyday conversation as a joke, just belittles the horrific pain these individuals have gone through. The "rape joke" culture is the culture that blames the victim, lets the persecutor get away, and dismisses the whole problem as just "one of those things."

The reason I don't stand for rape jokes is because the chances of someone you know and love having being sexually abused at some point in their life are scarily high, and I won't be a part of anything that allows this sort of horrific problem to continue.

You can't say "It's just jokes, there's no real harm." If anyone within earshot is a victim, it perpetuates the attitude that has been placed in their mind that it's their fault, or that they are stupid to make a fuss about it.

It's wrong, it happens far too often, and as a society we should be sending a clear message, one that blames and demonises perpetrators and doesn't belittle victims.
For a start, my general stance is that you can say whatever you want and it is up to you whether you consider the feelings of people you talk to. As to the rest of the post: Making a rape joke is referencing rape and the attitudes surrounding rape, but does not make rape a less serious crime. In fact it shows how serious it is that can be joked about and imply a serious message. But with jokes everything is fair game. It's not necessarily your actual opinion, and not necessary reflective of your attitude towards the subject matter. They can be in poor taste, but at that point they are bad jokes, not deliberate insults.

As for rape culture, I don't believe in 'rape culture'. You will find very few people that will, in the case of a clear-cut rape, attempt to justify the perpetrator's actions or blame the victim. The vast majority of people are against rape and do not support rapists. There are cases where consent is not explicitly given, and in those cases, while I don't buy the "she deserved it for dressing that way", there are other factors to take into consideration, such as how clear-minded the perpetrator and victim were, and whether it was reasonable to assume consent at the time (and before you tell me it's never reasonable to assume consent, in social situations there are some things you trust your human interaction skills to interpret). In short, I think it's reasonable to consider that the male is not always completely in the wrong. To extrapolate this attitude to saying "Perpetrators should be let off free in regards to rape and victims should consider it character building and not make a fuss" is ridiculous. Next to no-one believes that.

Also, rape victims (and anyone else, really) are being unreasonably paranoid if they think a rape joke is indicative of a whole culture that condones rape, and rape victims should be aware of the fact that rape is an oft-used subject matter of jokes with no serious intent in the same way black people might be familiar with stereotypes of their own culture and be prepared for comedy surrounding those. I'm not saying I would say a rape joke to a rape victim, or recommend others do it. What I'm saying is that rape victims are overreacting if they are reading anything into a rape joke that is not directed at them or said without knowledge of their experiences.
 

KriticalKiwi

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MeChaNiZ3D said:
Honestly, I think it comes down to women mainly being the victims of rape and thus rape being one of the things that offends a group that think themselves underpowered in society. I have no idea why it isn't brushed off as part of a joke in the same way literally everything else is, like the Holocaust, a famously controversial and often in poor taste subject of jokes that nevertheless has not spawned a single thread on here in recent memory.

KriticalKiwi said:
There is one very large difference between murder and rape that needs to be pointed out. There are people out there, who have personally experienced being raped, who's lives are irrevocably changed by this massive trauma in their past. I won't go into detail about how rape is traumatising, but I think we can all agree that it's a pretty big deal, and most of the time, the perpetrator gets away scott free. To hear about rape in everyday conversation as a joke, just belittles the horrific pain these individuals have gone through. The "rape joke" culture is the culture that blames the victim, lets the persecutor get away, and dismisses the whole problem as just "one of those things."

The reason I don't stand for rape jokes is because the chances of someone you know and love having being sexually abused at some point in their life are scarily high, and I won't be a part of anything that allows this sort of horrific problem to continue.

You can't say "It's just jokes, there's no real harm." If anyone within earshot is a victim, it perpetuates the attitude that has been placed in their mind that it's their fault, or that they are stupid to make a fuss about it.

It's wrong, it happens far too often, and as a society we should be sending a clear message, one that blames and demonises perpetrators and doesn't belittle victims.
For a start, my general stance is that you can say whatever you want and it is up to you whether you consider the feelings of people you talk to. As to the rest of the post: Making a rape joke is referencing rape and the attitudes surrounding rape, but does not make rape a less serious crime. In fact it shows how serious it is that can be joked about and imply a serious message. But with jokes everything is fair game. It's not necessarily your actual opinion, and not necessary reflective of your attitude towards the subject matter. They can be in poor taste, but at that point they are bad jokes, not deliberate insults.

As for rape culture, I don't believe in 'rape culture'. You will find very few people that will, in the case of a clear-cut rape, attempt to justify the perpetrator's actions or blame the victim. The vast majority of people are against rape and do not support rapists. There are cases where consent is not explicitly given, and in those cases, while I don't buy the "she deserved it for dressing that way", there are other factors to take into consideration, such as how clear-minded the perpetrator and victim were, and whether it was reasonable to assume consent at the time (and before you tell me it's never reasonable to assume consent, in social situations there are some things you trust your human interaction skills to interpret). In short, I think it's reasonable to consider that the male is not always completely in the wrong. To extrapolate this attitude to saying "Perpetrators should be let off free in regards to rape and victims should consider it character building and not make a fuss" is ridiculous. Next to no-one believes that.

Also, rape victims (and anyone else, really) are being unreasonably paranoid if they think a rape joke is indicative of a whole culture that condones rape, and rape victims should be aware of the fact that rape is an oft-used subject matter of jokes with no serious intent in the same way black people might be familiar with stereotypes of their own culture and be prepared for comedy surrounding those. I'm not saying I would say a rape joke to a rape victim, or recommend others do it. What I'm saying is that rape victims are overreacting if they are reading anything into a rape joke that is not directed at them or said without knowledge of their experiences.
I guess I'm speaking from a slightly different context here. I don't see these sorts of discussions about rape jokes only on the internet, I see them all the time irl. I agree that humour can, in it's own dark way, highlight the seriousness nature of such things. But such jokes are well thought out, and rather vindictive.

Let me make a comparison, using a racial slur against a group of people who are statistically underprivileged. You can say it's just a joke, you can say that perhaps your joke is pointing out the injustice of the situation they exist in, but you can't tell me that the racial slur being used constantly in day-to-day life isn't contributing to their situation.

I would also like to point out that I've been avoiding bringing gender into this. Not because of some stupid argument like "men get raped too" but because I think that focusing on gender shifts the focus away from where it should be. Regardless of the gender of the perp or victim, my logic still stands. Singling out any one gender lends itself to dismissive comments about "Feminazis." I'm neither female, nor a feminist. Just a guy who thinks that my attitude towards what is and isn't appropriate in society actually affects the people around me. You shouldn't kid yourself into thinking that taking a neutral stance doesn't hurt anyone. It does.
 

KriticalKiwi

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darkstarangel said:
The only thing I can put it down to is that for the past 40 or so years Slasher flicks have been glorifying gore & violence that the mainstream media is practically desensitised to it. Even to the point where death & gore can be parodied. And even though such films usually contain a lot of sex, even dying during the act, the two were never combined. Jason or michael myers never raped their victims just slaughtered them.
Desensitisation to violence and murder have been around a long time, my friend. Ever read an ancient Greek tragedy? Or a comedy for that matter?
 

Scott Rothman

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There isn't inherently wrong with a joke that discusses the topic of rape. The issue is with jokes that are at the expense of victims of rape.

Like, here

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ys_Hi8nV7yM

Joke that touches on rape and isn't offensive to victims of rape
 

MeChaNiZ3D

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KriticalKiwi said:
MeChaNiZ3D said:
I guess I'm speaking from a slightly different context here. I don't see these sorts of discussions about rape jokes only on the internet, I see them all the time irl. I agree that humour can, in it's own dark way, highlight the seriousness nature of such things. But such jokes are well thought out, and rather vindictive.

Let me make a comparison, using a racial slur against a group of people who are statistically underprivileged. You can say it's just a joke, you can say that perhaps your joke is pointing out the injustice of the situation they exist in, but you can't tell me that the racial slur being used constantly in day-to-day life isn't contributing to their situation.

I would also like to point out that I've been avoiding bringing gender into this. Not because of some stupid argument like "men get raped too" but because I think that focusing on gender shifts the focus away from where it should be. Regardless of the gender of the perp or victim, my logic still stands. Singling out any one gender lends itself to dismissive comments about "Feminazis." I'm neither female, nor a feminist. Just a guy who thinks that my attitude towards what is and isn't appropriate in society actually affects the people around me. You shouldn't kid yourself into thinking that taking a neutral stance doesn't hurt anyone. It does.
While I do appreciate that you're being gender-neutral, references to gender I've made I think have been in reference to actual injustices associated with the treatment of rape in some places, but you're right, you didn't imply it and it's jumping the gun a bit for me to bring it in. And using a racial slur against a group of underpriviledged people is different in my eyes to making a joke referencing a racial slur associated with an underpriviledged group. But in the end I think the main point of contention is that you think (as far as I understand) casual racism/sexism in the form of jokes perpetuates the intolerance they're referring to whereas I don't really believe someone can be racist or sexist without deliberately being so, jokes about controversial subjects are a part of free speech, and if they inspire attitudes condoning or condemning through satire, rape, that is not the fault of the joke but the fault of the responder. Rather than ban all references to rape, I would say we need to promote a cultural attitude that realises rape as serious, but can still appreciate a joke. Except that I think we're largely already there. I've not seen much, if any, blatant support of rape or rapists, ever, and I don't think those anti-rape attitudes change when the person is laughing at or making a rape joke. I'm not taking a neutral position, I'm taking a pro-rape joke position wherein rape jokes can be said by anyone anywhere and it is up to the speaker to decide if it is appropriate and allow for misinterpretation. Thanks for being reasonable though, I was afraid this could devolve into vitriol, but we've got a good discussion out of this.
 

siomasm

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It depends on the context of the joke, honestly I've seen some pretty "lulzy" bits like a man screaming at his cat "GET THE F*** DOWN FROM THERE, I'M GOING TO RAPE YOU!" or the modified sound bits of the "To catch a predator" fellow stating "I like rape". In the right situation, good for a chuckle.

But then I can't think of a single rape joke that was particularly graphic or in depth on the subject that I've ever heard. If the mere mention of the word, not even necessarily the act or the deeper implications, offends someone, I might be able to understand if they have been personally effected.

Then again, in my own opinion you can't mourn every tragedy and make logic of every horror humans concoct. Dark humor has a reason to exist and serves a powerful and useful role. Not only does it remind you of the darker natures of humans or the tragedies of life (Some things need to serve as a grim reminder) if gives you a coping mechanism for them. Can't cry or rage about EVERY injustice in the word, so laugh about the pointlessness of it all?
 

romxxii

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The problem with rape is that the act is abhorrent. The problem with the rape jokes that get on the news is that they're not funny. When a rape joke isn't funny, all you're left with is the rapeyness.

George Carlin explains it better:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQA6UStpOyQ
 

Legion

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Lieju said:
Also, murder and genocide are bigger, more unrealistic things. If you're really threatened by either, then joking about them is in bad taste, but most people in the 1st world don't have to worry about it.
But rape is something many people (especially women) fear, and joking about it can be used to mask a threat or remind you of it, especially if there's a big difference in how men and women respond to it.
That's a very interesting point, a little like how "too soon" is a complaint people will have over jokes based around current tragic events. It's not that the joke is inherently worse, so much as it is that it's a lot closer to home than other topics. Seeing as the average person in the first world doesn't have much cause to fear being murdered, the concept of death doesn't have quite the same depth to it.

Although personally, while I really don't like rape jokes, and am especially against people using the word rape when playing games ("You got raped" etc.), I don't believe people have the right to use "I find that offensive" to dictate what other people say. Unless it's harassment, unavoidable or promoting such behaviour, then I think people really do need to mind their own business when it comes to what they find offensive.
 

roushutsu

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It all boils down to context and how the joke is performed. That tends to be the dividing line between a joke not to be taken seriously and an honest threat.
 

Thaluikhain

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MeChaNiZ3D said:
I don't really believe someone can be racist or sexist without deliberately being so,
Hey?

If someone really believes that group X or Y is less than their group, they aren't thinking to themselves "I shall deliberately be unfair", it'd make perfect rational sense to them.
 

FieryTrainwreck

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It's about rates, context, and deference.

Rates of sexual assault/rape are off the charts next to murder/dead baby rates. The odds of a rape survivor being horribly affected by an insensitive remark are markedly higher than the odds of a murder/dead baby trauma survivor suffering the same hardship. In a crowd of thousands, you are *guaranteed* to be speaking to more than a few women who have been sexually assaulted. The likelihood of inflicting suffering on others is a tremendous factor in determining whether or not a joke is "appropriate". If you want to joke about rape, or use cliched rape language to describe your video game triumphs, you should probably keep that shit to your inner circle of like-minded friends.

Context is a huge factor as well. What sort of society comprises the audience for your joke? Do they prosecute murder and dead baby situations in a very strict and timely fashion? If yes, then jokes about those topics are more acceptable; horrible as these things clearly are, we take care of that shit with a severity and an alacrity that all but guarantees rarity. Sexual assault/rape, on the other hand, is horrendously under-reported, under-prosecuted, and generally handled in a very piss-poor fashion. It's extremely bad form to poke fun at what is an ongoing epidemic negatively affecting the lives of tens of millions of human beings every day. You wouldn't make an aids joke in Africa, would you?

Finally, we arrive at deference. You have to ask yourself if it's really so important to enforce a logical imperative upon a debate if the end result is needlessly hurting people. We can say *other things* to each other when we play games. As men, it's sorta on us to police our gender and excise things that contribute to the "casualization" of rape language and rape culture. If it takes a few people generating "hysteria" over relatively harmless comments, so be it. What are the odds this guy will say that again any time soon? How is that not progress?

In the end, say what you want. But free speech doesn't excuse you from judgment, and insisting upon using rape language when you know full well a) it might hurt someone and b) the number of people it might potentially hurt is fucking legion... that makes you kind of an asshole.
 

MeChaNiZ3D

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thaluikhain said:
MeChaNiZ3D said:
I don't really believe someone can be racist or sexist without deliberately being so,
Hey?

If someone really believes that group X or Y is less than their group, they aren't thinking to themselves "I shall deliberately be unfair", it'd make perfect rational sense to them.
Probably make more sense if I said I don't believe someone can be racist or sexist whilst being deliberately not sexist or racist. Although, yeah, I'm sort of in a corner here. I don't consider myself racist or sexist, but some people consider things I think to be racist or sexist that I think are reasonable.

I don't think I can define it properly being as tired as I am. For now, apply common sense. If someone believes in equality I don't think they can be unknowingly perpetuating a system that is unequal when it is a subject of discussion often and they have plenty of opportunity to examine their actions.
 

BM19

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I think that the problem is that most rape jokes are just poorly written and/or executed.

Comedy should be allowed to touch on all topics for a number of reasons, but at all times you've got to know your audience and the effect/intention your words have on others. A good guideline is that if your joke in any way empowers the assaulter, objectifies/shames/blames the victim, or makes light of the act itself without subverting the statement by making it ironic or clearly reprehensible, it's bad.

An easy example of a simple rape joke was made by John Mullaney, who once joked about how in a certain situation while walking home, he realized that the woman in front of him thought that he was a criminal rapist because of how he was dressed and the setting. Then he mentioned about how terrible it is that women have to worry about that -- then laughed that the girl could likely kick his ass.
He gave the act appropriate weight, mentioned how pervasive it is to women, and even empowered the potential victim a bit while kicking himself. There's a reason you've likely never heard about this joke: it didn't make a controversy because it's not controversial.

Another example: Louis CK (one of the best comedians alive) did a rape joke where he mentioned that rape is a terrible thing and should never be done. He then added, "unless you want to have sex with them and they won't let you."
The words endorsed the act, but his tone clearly conveyed "this is funny because it's terrible and only terrible people would actually think this way".No victim is mentioned, he's setting himself up as "the attacker" and then striking himself down. No one is hurt, the act is given appropriate weight, everyone moves along. No controversy.

The problem is that a lot of bad comedians think that they're good enough to pull off a rape joke, when really it's just easy shock value since it has become even more of a taboo subject.

Sorry that mine doesn't tie in directly to OP's example, but standup is an area I'm more familiar with.