Five Rape Jokes Not to Tell (If You Want A Future)
While placing a simple rape joke in a pop song won't derail your music career, it could haunt you for decades and prevent you from becoming president, or anything else great ever. Below, five rape jokes that politicians wish they had never said—or, more likely, wish nobody ever heard.
5. In 1995, New York Magazine sat in on a "Saturday Night Live" sketch writing session with Al Franken, Norm MacDonald, and Jim Downey as they riffed on "60 Minutes"—and rape. Republicans dredged up the session again in 2008, during Franken's extended bid for a Minnesota Senate seat (still pending). From an Associated Press story:
Franken and fellow writers Norm MacDonald and Jim Downey kick around fictional Rooney responses to the discovery of the bottle. . . . The article quotes Franken putting an edgy twist on the discussion: "And 'I give the pills to Lesley Stahl. Then when Lesley's passed out, I take her to the closet and rape her.' Or 'That's why you never see Lesley until February.' Or, 'When she passes out I put her in various positions and take pictures of her."
MacDonald takes it a step further, suggesting that the Rooney rape comment be directed at other "60 Minutes" icons Mike Wallace and Ed Bradley. Franken chimes in: "What about 'I drag Mike into my office and rape him. Right here! I guess that makes me bad.'"
4. In 1990, Texas Republican gubernatorial nominee Clayton Williams opened a traditional campaign photo-op non-traditionally: with a rape joke. He later lost the seat to Democrat Ann Richards, who condemned the joke. According to the New York Times:
Mr. Williams made the remark on Saturday while preparing for a cattle roundup at his West Texas ranch. He compared the cold, foggy weather spoiling the event to a rape, telling ranch hands, campaign workers and reporters around a campfire, ''If it's inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.''
3. Sarah Palin's nominee for Alaska Attorney General, Wayne Anthony Ross, failed to pass the state legislature's stink test after allegations of Ross's past rape joke went public. Voted down 35-23, Ross was the first Alaskan AG not to be confirmed. I wonder why:
Another woman who had been a citizen lobbyist on behalf of families and children in Alaska with regard to child support, custody, abuse, abandonment and neglect spoke before the House Judiciary Committee the following day about statements she heard at a meeting of Dads Against Discrimination. “Numerous comments were made that were appalling, not the least of which were remarks by Mr. Ross which included the following; “If a guy can’t rape his wife…who’s he gonna rape?” and “There wouldn’t be an issue with domestic violence if women would learn to keep their mouths shut.”
2. Last year, Palin running-mate John McCain was forced to cancel a fund raising event with fellow rape-joker Clayton Williams after his own long-buried rape joke resurfaced. Oh, the tangled web rape joke-tellers weave! After floating this one in a 1986 National League of Cities and Towns address, McCain went on to enjoy a long political career—stopping just short of the presidency:
Did you hear the one about the woman who is attacked on the street by a gorilla, beaten senseless, raped repeatedly and left to die? When she finally regains consciousness and tries to speak, her doctor leans over to hear her sigh contently and to feebly ask, "Where is that marvelous ape?"
1. American politicians have got nothing on Japanese lawmakers Seichi Ota and Yasuo Fukuda, whose rape jokes aren't just deeply unsettling and inappropriate—they actually explicitly condone rape. And are told in the context of an actual rape cases:
"Gang rapists are somewhat better (than other men) because they have vigor."
Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Seichi Ota made the remark in late June, in front of a large audience during a debate—as it so happened—on falling birthrates.
He was responding to the recent arrest and widespread media coverage of five male students from three elite private Tokyo universities who were at the time being charged by a 20-year-old woman for raping her in a bar after a social get-together for students. Ota went on to shrug off the case as a sign of "virility" on the part of the young men and to characterize their actions as being "almost normal."
Meanwhile, as the case was in the media limelight in late June, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda told the weekly Shukan Bunshun that given the provocative style of contemporary fashion, "there is room for leniency." The minister, in charge of a gender-equality panel run by the prime minister's office, was quoted as saying: "Some women really dress as if to say, 'Please do it,' don't they?"
When a journalist parried that women who dressed more modestly in old Japan were also raped, Fukuda is reported to have replied jokingly, that he "doesn't know about what really happened those days."
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