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May 23, 2011 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

I Am Offended Because – Ex-lovers, Words and Why Some Things Just Aren’t Funny

Do you know what’s weird? Being friends with your ex-lovers on Facebook. Come to think of it, that word, the l word, the ‘lover’ word is probably a bit misleading. Something like ‘friends-of-friends’ or ‘fuck-buddies’ or ‘guys-I-accidentally-slept-with-after-various-staff-parties’ would probably be more accurate. Whatever you call them, being Facebook pals is awkward (and no, I can’t just delete them because that would just make things more awkward). Scrolling down my news feed is too much information. Do I really need to know that J (circumcised builder, summer fling) is mining in Perth and that, no matter how much water he drinks, his piss remains orange? Or that N (strapping ex-triathlete, high school love interest) has had a baby called Georgia with whom he poses for pictures with bottles of Tui in her mouth?

It gets worse, this being friends on Facebook thing. Sometimes the ball flies right out of the cringe-worthy park and straight into distressing territory. Last week B (sarcastic chemistry student, too many tequilas) updated his status to read ‘Facebook raped me’. You know what, B? I just don’t think Facebook did that. When I saw that status I wanted to throw up. I couldn’t believe that I had slept with somebody who would feel okay with using the word ‘rape’ so flippantly. How could I have fucked someone so blissfully unaware of their privilege, that they would use a rape joke as their Facebook status, on a public forum, and think that not one person out of their four hundred and seventy four Facebook friends had been raped. That’s the thing about rape jokes. Nobody ever stops to think that maybe, just maybe, they might be telling their joke to rape survivors. Nobody ever thinks they might be asking people to laugh at their own experiences of sexual assault.

I know that I talk about words a lot here. I’ve talked about ‘PC’ and ‘gay’ and I’m saving ‘fat’ and ‘tranny’ for next semester. I talk about words for a reason. I do it because words matter. I do it because words mean things. Research indicates that sexist humour increases personal tolerance of discrimination towards women. Just like sexist, homophobic and racist jokes cement harmful cultural stereotypes, rape jokes trivialise the act of rape. It’s not about rape jokes being offensive. It’s about rape jokes solidifying a culture in which one in four women are raped in their lifetime, and I’m not okay with that.

I’m not okay with living in a world where the only time it is okay to talk about rape is when you’re joking about it. I’m not okay with living in a word where wearing a short skirt could be confused with consent. I’m not okay with living in a world where we teach young women not to walk alone down dark alleys but we teach young men nothing about not raping women. I’m not okay with rape culture. I’m not okay with rape jokes.


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Comments (26)

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  1. Clare says:

    Damn straight. Could not agree more.

  2. Dreya says:


  3. Polichinelle says:

    Thunderous applause!

  4. Nicola Wood says:

    You’re the best

  5. Hayley Adams says:

    You are so right

  6. MJO says:

    I am very okay with this column. Owns.

  7. Gemma says:

    Amen. Well said.

  8. Rueben says:

    Average column, once again, from a below average person.

  9. Ally says:

    Perhaps, but at least I know how to spell my own name. Have a nice day!
    PS. Thank you everyone.

  10. Rueben says:

    Incorrect, you imply that there is only one correct way in which to spell a name, or rather ‘the’ name Rueben/Reuben. I would not expect any less from someone whose name is an American derived abbreviation. Nice day to you too =)

  11. Lola says:

    It must be awkward when your parents can’t spell either…

  12. Lola says:

    It must be awkward when your parents can’t spell either, eh Rueben? Possibly so awkward it leaves you with such crippling insecurity that you attack columnists on the internet…

  13. Lola says:

    Oops, what is awkward is commenting twice. Hey, Salient can we have a comment delete feature?

  14. Ally says:

    Hey Rueben, you really have been all over Salient complaining about me! I was just reading your letter about how you think I am a moo cow! You so silly! You also said you were a bit offended about mirrors in the dude bathrooms? I was wondering if you would maybe like to write your own SPECIAL GUEST I Am Offended Because column on this pressing issue? Or anything else that offends you really. Just because you seem quite wound up by my writing so maybe you could have a shot and see if you can do better? I’m serious. My next deadline is June 28th. Get in touch! xxxx

  15. Renee says:

    Oh Lola, you so funny with your 3 comments to prove one point

  16. Gabriela says:

    Hahaha Lola has to be the worst name out. You accuse Rueben’s parents of not being able to spell but… seriously, “Lola?” Like the song? Obviously your parents named you that because you were born with a penis.

  17. Jess says:

    Fantastic column! There will never be enough people making this point.

    Nice to know I’m not the only one raging when a fb friend gets “fraped” (how’s that for an irritating portmanteau…?)

  18. Matt says:

    “It’s about rape jokes solidifying a culture in which one in four women are raped in their lifetime, and I’m not okay with that.”

    Got a reference for this figure?

  19. Ally says:

    Matt – the 1 in 4 figure comes from a study that Mary Koss did for Ms. magazine, so it is a little flawed in that it is applicable to American college age women. The statistic has been criticised (often by people who do not agree with Koss’s definition of rape, because she counted women who had been co-erced while under the influence of alcohol and drugs) but it is also pretty much impossible to get any solid rape statistics because it is a crime that is rarely reported and a crime that is rarely taken to trial and a crime that has a really low conviction rate. A UK Government report (Taken from wikipedia, you can download the PDF from here: estimates that between 75 and 95 per cent of rape crimes are never reported to the police. I’ll put a link to an article at the bottom of this comment about how the justice system often fails rape victims, and the low rape conviction rate. If you want any confirmation about the prevalence of rape and sexual assault you only need to look at how extremely busy and financially stretched the services of Wellington Rape Crisis are. Details to donate to their services are here:

  20. Stuaker says:

    I use rape, gay, and other such un-pc words in everyday talk, and I think there is a place for them in humourous usage. Part of comedy’s strength and appeal is that it can use words that shock or are offensive to make a point.
    That said, I completely agree with the sentiment, and I’ve made a point of attempting to phase certain words out of my vernacular, or at least to think of whom I’m speaking to before talking. I have a gay flatmate, and though he’s not offended by the use of gay as negative adjective (at least, he says he’s not), I try to think before speaking and use a more inventive and less offensive word instead.

    As for the rape statistics, does it really matter if it’s 1/4, 1/10, 1/20, or even 1/500? I’m not okay with a world where woman are raped, whether it’s a quarter, or a far smaller number. It’s fucking rape.
    I don’t always agree with your collumn Ally, but thanks for making points and actually trying to stand up for something, and offering a critique. Kind of sad the comment section was transformed a pathetic and childish arguement about name-spelling and genitalia, rather than a more serious discussion about the power words have, and how to use that power in a positive way.

    Rueben, seriously, the majority of collumns you look at, on any fucking website are going to be shite, especially if you don’t agree with them. Don’t read them, or offer a thought out response and give a REASON why the collumn is shit. If you have nothing better to do than troll the internet to post on collumns you dislike for no apparent reason, you need help, or at least something to fill up your abundant free time. Maybe a class in sexual politics would do the trick?

  21. Steve Jobs says:

    Last night one of my facebook friends made a status ‘I just murdered that stats test’. OMG, I felt sick. I couldn’t believe I had ever wanted to sleep with that person. Doesn’t this person realise how serious a crime murder is? did they not think that maybe one of their facebook friends knows someone personally that was murdered? well that person was me. as soon as I saw that status I had A MASSIVE TRIGGER and flash backed to when my good friend porkchop was murdered in front of my eyes by my air rifle toting neighbour. and yes porkchop was a cat but that doesn’t make the hurt any less painful.
    I personally can’t stand it when people use words that remind me of bad things that happen in the world, such as ‘rape’, ‘murder’, ‘kill’, ‘steal’, ‘felch’, etc.

    I can’t wait to live in a more liberal, free and loving society where certain words aren’t allowed to be written or spoken.

  22. Matt says:

    I too find the overuse of rape/frape annoying considering its meaning today, but the word rape shouldn’t always have sexual connotations.
    Rape of the Lock anyone? Pope was onto that centuries before any Facebook whor- I mean users jumped onto it.

  23. Harriet says:

    Really great column Ally!! Thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a shame about the negative comments posted on this site and the fact that people still think its ok to say “gay” “rape” in a joking manner.

  24. Emi says:

    lol Uni students are funny. Shot Ally for voicing whats up, I totally agree with you. I’d hate to think what NZ would be like if everyone sat behind a computer screen & criticised columns and called people below average. A+ for being a lovely member of society. What a winner!

  25. Jenay says:

    Noithng I could say would give you undue credit for this story.

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