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May 13, 2014

Article by Deakin Criminologist questions why prison rape remains a joke

Richard EvansDeakin Criminologist Dr Richard Evans has had an article, ‘Prison rape: Is it OK to make jokes about rape in prison?‘, published in the latest edition of Arena Magazine (no.109, pp.26-30).

Article abstract: The trivialisation of sexual violence through what passes as humour is much less common than it once was. Jokes about rape are not innocent, are not harmless fun, are not unconnected to the horrible crime they make light of. Their gradual marginalisation represents social change of real importance. But there is one last refuge of the rape joke in mainstream popular culture, and its continued presence reflects a shameful blind spot in our society. It is a joke which conceals a horrible and damaging reality which is somehow both a taboo topic and a truth universally acknowledged.

A picture that circulated widely on Facebook and other social media last year captures the horror in the humour. It is a picture of a man’s back, decorated with a huge image of an alluring, naked woman, with the man’s buttocks marked to look like breasts. The caption: This man had what he thought was the best tattoo in the world . . . until he went to prison. How can a gag about a man being anally raped while in prison be widely popular, seen as funny, a giggle to share? Were the prospective victim a child or a woman, or were the rape in almost any other setting, the reaction would surely be revulsion and anger. Jail rape, though, somehow remains funny.

Richard’s article, is available online: click here.


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