Rape jokes have no place in political discourse

by Talia Raoufpur, Staff Columnist

Judd Apatow’s recent stand-up comedy appearance promoting a new HBO project was yet another example of blatant Hollywood hypocrisy. During his routine, Apatow took aim at the election. He said he felt like he had just been raped, “and I just don’t know if I’m going to get murdered.” Last month, he said he felt like he was a “person about to get raped, but didn’t know how bad it would be.”

In a time when most are working to combat the stigma behind rape and sexual assault, it is difficult to accept that comedians still find it acceptable to poke fun at the subject. Apatow’s close friend and “Girls” collaborator Lena Dunham is a rape survivor herself. Given her history and relationship to him, one would assume Apatow would not make light of the subject.

Apatow also joked about Melania Trump and her sex life with her husband. While it is acceptable to criticize the current commander-in-chief — or any politician — the criticism should be aimed at their policies, not their family and sex lives.

Both liberals and conservatives have participated in this despicable mockery.

It is important to bring attention to Trump’s own use of the word rape, which he uttered multiple times throughout his campaign. During a rally in Indiana, Trump used similar language to describe China’s economic influence on the United States, according to CNN.

“We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country,” he said.

When prominent members of society allude to sexual assault in this context, it becomes difficult to consider it in a serious light.

The push toward a more accepting and connected society is being foiled by flippant attitudes toward these issues from the likes of Apatow and Trump. These privileged men, whose economic wealth and fame have left them out-of-touch with the real world, are perpetuating rape culture. This is not a matter of political correctness, but rather the need for words to be used in the proper context, not just for shock value.

The meanings we associate with words hold significance. When people deliberately divert from their meaning, they cease to hold value, which in turn delegitimizes the subject.

For Apatow and Trump to co-opt the word for their own means is shameful. Rape is not a punch line. Sexual assault is no joke.

Sexual assault and rape often devastate the victim’s self-worth and can tear families, schools and communities apart. It is not an issue to be mocked, taken lightly or pushed away. Privileged members of our society such as Judd Apatow and Donald Trump should be mindful with their language. Should one find oneself upset over the President’s policies, they should use their platform to create good instead of poking fun at sexual violence.

Talia Raoufpur is a third-year psychology major minoring in communications. Connect with her on Facebook.