I think that The Blowfish is sometimes funny, and it’s a cheerful sight to see them in orange jackets handing out copies on the Rabb steps. But they’re definitely not above criticism, even when they’re ‘trying to be funny’.

Case in point: this week’s column entitled “Happy Dating Violence Awareness Week!”, which offered ideas and tips for celebrating the fact that millions of women (and men) around the world are at risk of violence from their partners. Their ideas include watching a Kung-Fu movie with your date (“watch other, more attractive people beat their signficant others”) and trying S&M or bondage (“hitting, biting, punching, scratching, cutting, maiming and burning are sometimes seen as reprehensible behaviors in a dating relationship…unless, of course, the other person’s into it!”).

Let me draw a useful distinction here. This is Not Funny. Keyboard Cat for President of Brandeis: funny. The fact that, for instance, 20 in 1000 young women will suffer violence from an intimate partner strikes me as a pretty serious topic.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think this is ‘beyond the bounds of free speech’, whatever that means. What I think is really sick and disgusting about this is the unapologetic endorsement of rape culture – the systematic normalization of sexual violence against women, such that it’s almost expected (even cool) for men to participate in it while women who claim to have been assaulted and raped are ignored, demeaned, even threatened. I, for one, have the feeling that sexual violence is trivialized if the Blowfish’s suggestion for being aware of it is not “listening to Metallica on your iPod[,] which drowns out the muffled sobs of your partner.

I think it’s pretty commendable for Brandeis Six-TALK to organize a week of activities to raise awareness about this usually-ignored reality, and pretty fucking offensive for the Blowfish to tell us that it’s “time to pick yourself off the floor and celebrate Dating Violence Awareness Week!” If you feel the same way, you might want to let the (all-male) editors at the Blowfish know how you feel by sending them a note at blowfish[AT]brandeis.edu

7 comments on “Rape Culture – It’s Not Fucking Funny”

  1. Comrade Says:

    Fucking well said.

  2. Doug Says:

    Is this available online, I’m just curious what was said.

  3. Alan Royals Says:

    What’s with the sexism in the last sentence of this blog entry? Disgusting bigotry.

  4. Jessica Says:

    Thanks for writing this. You said it a lot better than I feel I could have.

  5. victoria Says:

    “What’s with the sexism in the last sentence of this blog entry? Disgusting bigotry.” Except, it’s not sexist; I would be very surprised that had there been a woman on the editorial board, an issue like this would not be published. I hate to make generalisations about any group, but if you were to say one thing about women, in our society, I think you could say is the awareness of the rape culture that surrounds us. In his book, Michael Kimmel comments that the most common, greatest fear among women is that of being raped and killed; for men, it’s being LAUGHED AT. Not saying that a man can’t be aware of rape culture; indeed many are (as the comments here, and Jon’s post demonstrates). But to take an issue with representation is not sexist, it’s sensitive.

    Being abroad, I’ve not seen the issue, but I also find offensive the implication that BDSM is somehow on the continuum of domestic violence. Such a correlation just continues to demonize a sexual minority, and, indeed, completely contradicts the foundation of consent that BDSM sits upon (you know the saying: it’s actually the bottom that wields the power).

    Though I suppose in a society where many people repeatedly apologise for Roman Polanski, nothing surprises me…

  6. Art Says:

    I think that the link under the name of “even cool” goes a little too far, Jon. An excerpt from it-“Ben Roethlisberger is the Super-Bowl-winning QB of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Last summer he was in Lake Tahoe for a celebrity golf tournament. While there, he flirted up a female host at Harrahs, the casino hotel where he was staying. Whether or not she voluntarlily flirted with him is unknowable – as a rich, high profile celebrity, he knew that it was her job to flirt with him, and so did she. That’s rape culture”
    I think calling that activity in an many of the word rape undermines women and resorts them to the ever so stereotypical “damsel in distress” model. It goes to say that they are weak and victim to their emotions in ways men aren’t.
    Wha Roethlisberger did later, is undeniably rape.

  7. Thankful Says:

    Thank you for this article, Jon.