Sunday, 29 May 2011

Let's not tell rape jokes

The Labour Party's Let's Not game has been out for a few days.* I'm not linking to it, for reasons that will become apparent, but I do want to discuss one of the offensive parts of it.**

If someone puts their finger in someone else's anus without their consent then that is sexual assault. This is still true if the two people involved are on a rugby field.

Ten years ago John Hopoate puts his finger in three other players anuses during a rugby league match. Apparently the people who were making this flash game thought "You know what we should do? We should animate this in an amusing way. That'll help us win the election and be awesome." Apparently people being violated without their consent is kind of funny if it's men on the rugby field.

One of the basic rape-myths that help uphold a culture where sexual assault is endemic is that sometimes consent doesn't matter. If you ever say that some people's violation doesn't matter - if you ever set some people up as unrapeable - then you, or in this case the Labour Party, are upholding that rape myth.

* I do incidentally think it's a terrible, terrible, terrible, piece electioneering even if you take all the offensive material out (it makes me think of David Mitchell - but thinking of David Mitchell could just be my brain's defense mechanism).

** It's not the only offensive part. I may try and write a follow-up post of what is so offensive about its portrayal of the treaty, Hone Harawira, the relationship between daughters and fathers in general and Maori women as a group.

21 comments:

ideologicallyimpure said...

OH MY GOD it gets worse. Thanks for posting on this, Maia.

Story of O said...

Maia...get a life,seriously.

Story of O said...

I should add that I'm no Labour supporter but Maia's hand-wringing over this somewhat humorous triviality is pathetic....surely she has something better to concern herself with...?

Anonymous said...

Story of O - how is rape 'humourous triviality'? Know something the rest of us don't?

(yes I fed the troll, sorry bout that)

Foggy in Nelson said...

sorry that anon comment was me

Story of O said...

The John Hopoate incident has moved into cultural folk-law and is now a topic of humour in general society.After time virtually all things that were first treated as serious have translated into humour over time...its a coping mechanism human use.There are 9/11 jokes out there you know.

This is not to trivialise rape or any traumatic incidents but to get hung up on the natural evolution of a coping mechanism is silly and not worthy of concern.

anita said...

Of all the things that boggle me... I wonder why they added it. When thinking up a bunch of things to say "let's not" to, why did that one pop into their minds? Which demographic were they reaching out to? Who is Labour's target market if this was their carefully crafted way of reaching out to them?

Story, I think you have illustrated Maia's point perfectly. The fact that it seems trivial to you is exactly the problem, as long as people treat some sexual assaults as "humorous trivialit[ies]" then more of them will occur and the victims of them will receive less support and kindness. It's sad that you have that particular attitude to sexual violation (or is it only sexual violation of men?), but not uncommon. What is problematic is that the Labour party is reinforcing that attitude :(

Alison said...

Story of O, a stranger once did to me what John Hopoate did, when I was in a bar. At the time I *did* laugh it off as a coping mechanism (having spent a decent sum on hearing the band that was just warming up, and not wanting to let the bastard ruin my night), but I can assure you it felt neither humorous or trivial at the time. It felt deeply violating, and while it's now many years ago, and it doesn't pop into my head above once every six months, I can tell you that it still feels violating, and I never "laugh it off" when I remember it. What's more, there is nothing more likely to make me remember it, and feel that sense of violation, than hearing people "laugh off" or play down John Hopoate, his being the highest profile example of such an act.

Craig Ranapia said...

Story of O:

This is not to trivialise rape or any traumatic incidents...

That's exactly what you're doing -- and I call man-troll bullshit.

homepaddock said...

Rape is a crime. It's never funny.It's never trivial.

anthea said...

I use humour as a coping mechanism for traumatic events in my life. Granted, that never takes the form of saying "x" was funny, it's more seeing absurdity in a set of circumstances or my reaction. It's helpful and entirely legitimate.

But guess what? MY EXPERIENCES. I would never consider making these kinds of jokes about anyone else's experiences. And I'm very careful where I say this shit because I don't know what experiences other people around me would have. And I would never, ever, include them in a website or game or express them in my job or as a member/representative of a political organisation.

Because the space that exists in my head, and between a few people who are closest to me and myself is very different to the world out there where people who've experienced sexual assault - particularly that which doesn't fulfil usual conceptions - are routinely dismissed or laughed at or told not to make such a big deal out of it, it was only a bit of fun.

Story of O - if you've been assaulted or experienced other trauma's, using humour as a coping mechanism is entirely legit. But if you want a mechanism to help other people cope, try compassion and taking them and what has happened to them seriously. And if you want us to cope as a society, try working to put an end to rape culture, which is heavily propped up by this kind of humour.

Craig Ranapia said...

Here's something else that should be concerning -- the fact that this contained an authorisation statement by Labour general secretary Chris Flatt.

Here's how his appointment was described by then-president Andrew Little:

Party president Andrew Little announced the appointment today, saying Mr Flatt had experience as legal counsel and political co-ordinator in the Australian trade union movement.

"He was a pivotal player in the election of the Rudd government and here in New Zealand as the political organiser for the Council of Trade Unions in the last election," Mr Little said.


Perhaps someone should be asking Moira Coatsworth and CTU president Helen Kelly what kind of message this sends to women in general, and female workers in particular. Don't expect Labour and the CTU to take workplace harassment and abuse seriously? Let's not.

Story of O said...

If you really think a "rape culture" is sustained on incidents like the Hopoate one you need to get into the real world sometime.

People joke about all sorts of things and the important factor is context.There are dead baby jokes, paedophilia jokes etc out there...and there always will be because humour is a necessary part of our lives as humans....we need to let go and laugh...even at the more nastier side of existence.And there's a world of difference between a attempt at cultural context humour like Labours add and telling rape jokes at a meeting of rape crisis.

And Craig.....Mother of 4 dear...and not wallowing in preciousness unlike some...

Craig Ranapia said...

And Craig.....Mother of 4 dear...and not wallowing in preciousness unlike some...

Well, dear, nice to meet you mother of four. I was sexually assaulted over twenty years ago, and didn't report the offenders to anyone because of people like you.

If any of your children are ever sexually assaulted I hope you can find a grain of empathy and human decency. Then again, I really suspect you'd be the last person any assault victim would disclose to -- you know, they might not be seeing the appropriate "context" in which sexual assault is a big joke and need to "get a life".

Or is it only funny when it's male-on-male, in which case you're not only a rape apologist but might also want to check yourself for homophobia.

A Nonny Moose said...

O, go read DerailingForDummies.com. And then Shakes' "On Rape Culture" (http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2009/10/rape-culture-101.html) Read them very very carefully. Do not stop because it's "hard" or "too long".

Nobody has the right to turn rape into a joke. You're so uninformed and reeking of privilege it's painful.

A Nonny Moose said...

That link should be:


http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2009/10/rape-culture-101.html

Boganette said...

Where is the modding on this? I think it's pretty bad to let a comment where someone is trying to explain why a sexual assault is funny is able to stand on this site. Apologies if you're all busy and it's your blog but I think that comment crosses a line big time and is triggering.

Julie said...

There has been a bit of moderation in this thread, just now. We can only moderate by deleting or commenting, and none of us monitor the blog full time, so thanks for the tweeting tip offs.

Maia said...

Thanks for dealing with moderation people who aren't me. I have to confess that I still don't understand the deleted post, but I'm glad it's gone (I also had to wikipedia Hopoate to write this post - sometimes a little bit of ignorance is a great protective device)

Feel free to continue to tell Story of O why it does matter if you like. But I do think Anita's question of why it's in there is an important one.

Related to that is no-one appears to have noticed before me. I know not every option comes up every time - but some of hte people who facebooked, wrote about and commented on this post must have seen it - and didn't think it was noticeable.

I think that's how deeply ingrained the idea that some sexual assaults don't matter are, and it's really scary.

One of the things that disturbs me is precisely how many people would

Also

Story of O said...

"Nobody has the right to turn rape into a joke. You're so uninformed and reeking of privilege it's painful."

Oh child please!

A Nonny Moose said...

O, where the hell do you get off calling me a child? Not only is that an insult to the personhood of children to use them as a perjorative, you have no idea of my age or gender. You've been told more than once, and you won't be told again nicely - pull your head in.