On “Jokes” and Domestic Violence

09 altered

Photo Credit: ghetto_guera29 via Compfight cc

So, the other day on Twitter I came across  the following:

If there is something I don’t get, it is people who joke about domestic violence, rape and other forms of violence. So it led to the following exchange:

As a side note here, yes, I have with friends or siblings during fun said “I’m gonna kill you”, but only ever when we are joking around. I would never say something like that during an argument, and I would never say it someone I don’t know extremely well and I would especially not joke about wishing harm on a stranger, celebrity or otherwise.

It really annoys me when people try to either change the subject, or play the “who’s the most oppressed game“. I am well aware that it is not just violence against women which is minimized, but violence against minorities, trans*, homosexuals, people in third-world countries etc. I am not trying to minimize any of these issues, but those issues also should not minimize the issue of violence against women. Two wrongs don’t make a right

Freedom of speech does not equal speech without consequences. We do not have to respect everything someone else say. I do not respect homophobia, transphobia, misogynist attitudes, inequality or jokes that minimize domestic violence or rape.

I will go out of my way to point out the way our words shape the world we live in. Our words matter. Our words can normalize misogyny, domestic abuse, rape, transphobia, homophobia etc. – or they can normalize a world where people are treated equally.

So no, it’s not just a joke. And I will not let you get away with saying “it’s just a joke”. I don’t believe that I’ll make people stop joking about these things, but I do hope I can signal to the bystanders that hey, it’s not okay, and if you feel uncomfortable, you are not alone. And maybe I will make the people who joke about these things think twice before they joke about being “face-raped” or Chris Brown beating up his girlfriend.


  1. Ugh, this is just so not okay, and it’s everywhere. I’ve had to end friendships recently because people aren’t willing to even consider that their rape jokes and minimilizing of violence and sexual assault are offensive and harmful. “It’s free speech! It’s just a joke!” It’s not a joke. It’s a real thing, and people throwing it around like this and acting as if some people deserve it (even as a “joke) can contribute to some people not coming forward and getting help.

    There’s a commonly used quote about freedom (attributed to several people so I don’t know who said it first – I’d always heard Thomas Jefferson but Wikiquote claims Zechariah Chaffee): your freedom to swing your arm ends with my nose. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you have the right to infringe on other people’s freedom and safety. These kinds of “jokes” aren’t just unfunny, they’re dangerous. It shows victims that they live in a world where they are not supported or protected, where they aren’t seen as real people with rights and therefore they can’t expect safety.


    • Thank you Sanil! I face the same issue, especially because I refuse to shut up.
      I agree 100% with everything you said. It just makes me so sad that people can’t see how serious these issues are, and don’t understand that our words shape the society and culture we live in – and it is pretty clear from everything that we do live in a rape culture that minimizes if not condones violence against women (particularly, although also against many other minorities).


      • LK

        We live in a very violent culture period. Its particularly violent toward women. What makes it ok for one person to attack another person? I had a male friend horribly beaten in Harlem, NY around 2am just for being in Harlem and being white. They didn’t rob him, they just beat him. Luckily he was ok and no he shouldn’t have been in Harlem at 2am. But what made it ok for these men? Because he was white and in their territory? I don’t understand it. Its no better than saying “well she wore a short dress, she had it coming”. I don’t get how people justify this thought process. But on both sides, its men doing the violence. We need to retrain our men and make sure they don’t grow up thinking this stuff is ok to do.



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