Who’s really the butt of rape jokes?

Brazil’s 7-1 defeat at the hands of Germany in Tuesday night’s World Cup semi-final broke the Twitter record for the most-discussed sports game ever, with 35.6million tweets posted. Among these tweets, most of which were ribbing the Brazil side, were a handful of ‘rape jokes’, describing how the Brazilian team had been ‘raped’, or in some cases ‘gang raped’, by the German side. Not only did this cause a backlash on Twitter, the Arab news service Al Jazeera quickly posted an article about it on its website. Most of the comments suggested that using the word ‘rape’ so flippantly was unacceptable and offensive to victims of rape.

Admittedly, the tweets were not particularly funny. But they were not directed at victims of rape and they were not intended to ridicule abuse – in fact, they were intended to ridicule the Brazilian football team.

The hysteria surrounding these tweets appears to come from a group of individuals who, for some reason, feel obliged to take offence on behalf of victims of rape. But this raises an important question: do these people think victims of rape are uniquely sensitive to any reference to the crime that was committed against them? It’s interesting how we don’t see the same backlash when the terms ‘battered’ or ‘slaughtered’ are being used to describe sports matches. Why do some people think that rape victims are going to be more offended than, for example, the family of a murder victim or the victim of domestic abuse? It is simply assumed that victims of rape will be devastated by these sort of jokes. In reality, it is only self-righteous, easily offended tweeters who are getting upset.

Nathalie Farrugia is a spiked intern.

For permission to republish spiked articles, please contact Viv Regan.

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