We often accuse men of trivialising sexual crimes by cracking jokes or making casual remarks that tend to normalise rape, groping and sexual assault. However, can we assume that women are above cracking tasteless jokes on rape or laughing at them? Kerala MP Hibi Eden’s wife Anna Linda Eden is facing immense backlash for sharing a rape analogy on her Facebook page. Sharing a video of waterlogging outside her house, Anna wrote, “Fate is like rape if you can’t resist it then try to enjoy it,” as per India Today. Would we have tolerated such a remark from a man? While the MP’s wife, who is a journalist, is receiving intense criticism for her comments, the incident emulates how women are prone to trivialising sexual crimes, just like men.

Would you laugh at such a joke, if you knew that no one was watching you? Is it only inappropriate because #MeToo has decreased out tolerance levels (and rightly so) or because it is indeed not funny to make fun of such a horrific act?

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Kerala MP’s wife is facing backlash for using rape analogy in a Facebook post on waterlogging outside her house.
  • “Fate is like rape if you can’t resist it then try to enjoy it,” she wrote.
  • Women are equally prone to cracking and laughing at rape jokes, as men.
  • Have we internalised the fact that rape happens under circumstances over which we have no control?

Some time back the video of actor Kangana Ranaut laughing at a rape joke cracked by Jim Sarabh was trending on social media. Since the conversation on sexual misconduct is at its peak now, it is understandable how such remarks and the reactions they generate don’t go unnoticed. However, the social media crowd is learning to be politically correct. But the question remains, why do people find rape jokes funny? Would you laugh at such a joke, if you knew that no one was watching? Is it only inappropriate because #MeToo has decreased our tolerance levels (and rightly so) or because it is indeed pathetic to make fun of such a horrific act?

The casual analogies which people draw with rape or harassment in everyday life indicate that while we are more careful of what we say due to fear of backlash, the mind-set is far from changing.

Women themselves have internalised patriarchy to the extent of holding their kind accountable for rape. Of seeing rape as a factor over which they have little or no control. We can’t control male predatory behaviour. We can’t un-condition men from feeling entitled to sexual favours from any woman they like. So might as well resign to the fate, or sadly, ask women to do their bid in preventing rapes. Isn’t it why women police other women’s clothes? Or criticise certain kinds of behaviours or actions? Staying out too late, hanging out with boys, drinking alcohol, everything a woman does becomes a factor which either makes her vulnerable or safe. So women who abide by social norms of being “good” often take a moral high ground and do not think twice before making insensitive remarks on rape.

The narrative for them becomes us, who do everything right and thus remains safe, versus “bad” girls who deserve what comes their way. The real culprit, male entitlement catalysed by patriarchy walks free. How can we expect men to not trivialise sexual crimes if we do not do that ourselves in the first place? Almost every girl and woman in India experiences sexual misconduct in one form or the other. Their consent and agency can’t be reduced to joke by their own sisterhood. Which is why need to stop looking at sexual crimes as something that only happens to certain kind of women, or in certain situations over which we have no control. The least we can do to enable survivors to speak up and seek justice is to demean their ordeal with a callous attitude.

ALSO READ: Why We Disapprove Of Relationships Where Women Call Shots?

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

Get the best of SheThePeople delivered to your inbox - subscribe to Our Power Breakfast Newsletter. Follow us on Twitter , Instagram , Facebook and on YouTube, and stay in the know of women who are standing up, speaking out, and leading change.