Why Your Justin Bieber Prison Jokes Perpetuate Rape Culture
Sherrie Silman | On 25, Jan 2014
Trigger warning for discussion of sexual assault
Rape is never a laughing matter.
Sexual violence isn’t funny, no matter to whom it is happening.
Jokes about prison rape are no exception – they’re not funny, and circulating them contributes to rape culture.
All genders suffer under rape culture. When sexual violence is treated as a laughing matter, as a “simple” form of bullying (as in the case of Internet trolling), or as what some people “deserve,” then rape culture flourishes. When rape culture flourishes, we all suffer.
Rape culture designates certain human beings (e.g., those designated as “feminine”) as prey. Under rape culture, the non-alpha male is at risk of sexual violence, just as everything else labeled as “pussy.” Rape culture is a product of oppression-based power hierarchies, which is pretty much the main organizational structure of most societies on planet Earth throughout history. And rape culture is why people mistakenly think it’s a harmless bit of fun to circulate Justin Bieber’s mugshot with captions such as: “He’s going to make some man in the prison system very happy!”
Non-consensual sodomy, or other non-consensual sexual contact, is sexual violence. I don’t care how much you hate the Bieb, joking about his potential future experience of sexual violence is not funny, not acceptable, not humane. Joking about rape culture contributes to rape culture.
If you are circulating jokes about sexual violence, then you are part of the problem – you are feeding rape culture instead of starving it out of existence.
Prison rape is no laughing matter. Despite that there are pedophiles and sexual predators that deserve to suffer on par to the suffering they’ve caused, jokes about sexual violence in prisons only serve to subject people who don’t deserve the pinnacle of society’s revenge to sexual violence within institutions of incarceration. Adults and children of all genders are at risk from the callousness that results from the benign participation in oppression. And prison rape is a crime as well as a human rights violation.
Locking a human being inside a cell does not remove their inherent human rights. All human beings have the right to be free from sexual violence. And there is absolutely nothing funny about sexual violation.
So the next time you’re tempted to participate in the spreading of this type of harmful meme, remember that doing so makes you complicit in rape culture. So long as rape culture exists, so long as rape jokes circulate, no one is safe.
And you might be next.