Don’t joke about rape
“Napakaganda … Dapat mayor ang mauna.”
I’m sure you know by now who said those words. If you don’t, let me enlighten you. Those words, and more, were said by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in the course of telling a story about an Australian rape victim. He drew a lot of hate from netizens and was widely criticized for his remarks.
To be clear, I am not writing this to criticize Duterte, because that has been overly done. I am writing this to criticize the main problem, which is making fun of rape and sexual harassment.
Rape is not a funny subject and should never be cause for humor. Those who haven’t been raped or haven’t experienced sexual harassment may think this is just a shallow topic because they are not aware of the prevalence and severe impact of these crimes. Sexual harassers may be behaving thus because of egoistic motives or because of their belief that a woman (or man) is a mere instrument.
Back to Duterte’s remarks. Upon hearing his words, some of his supporters even laughed. Now why isn’t society taking rape or sexual harassment seriously? It is probably because most people still think that rape or sexual harassment is mainly the fault of the victim. A common justification is: A person is violated because she (or he) is wearing skimpy clothes.
Well, I refuse to agree with that argument.
My mode of transportation from my house to my college, and back, is a ride on an FX. At one time when I was on my way home, I sat on the “shotgun seat” (the front seat), sandwiched between the driver on my left and another man on my right. I have this bad habit of napping in public vehicles, mainly because of my exhaustion due to schoolwork. During that ride I was fully awake at first, but halfway through it I became sleepy. It kind of served as the cue for what happened next.
The driver kept shifting gears and holding on to the gear stick, and his hand sometimes touched my knee. For the first few times that this happened, I thought the driver meant no harm. I kept my eyes closed and pretend to be asleep, but I was alert. Later I felt his hand on my leg, and he stroked it, and it was clearly no accident. Of course I moved my leg, then tried to move away, but it was impossible because there was no space. Note: I was wearing pants and a plain T-shirt, not skimpy clothing by any measure.
My point is this: The way a person chooses to dress has nothing to do with rape or sexual harassment, and the way a person chooses to dress does not justify the wrongness of these crimes.
Another reason people should not joke about rape or sexual harassment is that the victim is further degraded when they do so. Consider a person who has lost a loved one. We would not make fun of him or her and say, “Hahaha, what a terrible thing! I bet you will be the next to follow.” We would not dare say that even if it is just a joke and we did not mean it.
Making jokes about rape and sexual harassment is denying the humanity of the person who was violated. The moment a person jokes about rape is the moment that he or she loses concern for the common good and the moment he or she loses humanity.
And lastly, rape and sexual harassment have no place in entertainment. No one, whether a woman or a man, was created for someone else’s entertainment. Everyone is a being of his or her own.
People need to stop joking about rape or sexual harassment because it trivializes the crime. When someone jokes about rape and other people laugh in response, the criminal and the crime are vindicated.
Now, you might have the wrong interpretation of what I’m trying to say. I’m not telling you that you are not allowed to say what you want to say. I’m telling you to be responsible for what you are saying, and to be considerate of other people. Also, this is not only an act for feminism but also an act for humanity.
“NJM,” 17, is in her first year in college.
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