*Trigger warning; discusses sexual assault*
I can't believe that I'm writing this in this day and age but here we are. This is going to be short because I think the point is actually pretty obvious so no need to labour over it.
Last night saw the series finale of popular Irish drama Love/Hate and undoubtedly, most of the country were tuned in. As usual, it was an hour long blast of violence with characters tortured and murdered and included a disturbing rape scene involving Fran, a prisoner in Mountjoy jail.
We're shown his initial attack and his broken body afterwards, as he lies in a pool of his own blood, clearly in agony.
Instantly, memes and jokes about these scenes sprang up across social media. I unfollowed those on Twitter who felt the need to share these comments but this morning I noticed my Facebook and Instagram feeds were also filling up with crass "jokes" too and as these were also people I'm friends with, I thought it would be better to just address it here rather than go through each individual and repeat myself several times.
So for those of you who find it hilarious that a human being (fictional or not) was violently sexually assaulted with a piece of splintered wood, let me just point out this glaringly obvious fact; rape is not funny. It never has been and never will be. To laugh at suffering of that level instantly makes you less human. If you can watch something like that and not feel physically ill, fair enough. Good for you and your steely constitution. lf however you can watch that and then go on to make incredibly crude jokes, memes or comments about it then you're not only lacking a sense of humour but also any slight vestige of empathy or decency.
Just in case you're also confused; rape involving a male victim or the use of an object is still rape. Would you laugh at a female rape victim? Did you also laugh at the rape of Siobhan last series? Maybe you did, maybe that's your thing. I don't know your (messed up) life. I do know however that people's justification for this on twitter have been nothing short of an epic grasping at straws; "it's only a tv show", "the rapist isn't gay so it can't be rape", "there was no sexual attraction so it wasn't rape", "sure he's a criminal himself anyway", "because it was an object people weren't aware of what was happening" etc.
Seriously, just stop.
Yes, this was a work of fiction but one that was designed to show the degradation and humiliation of this character, something I think the actor and makers of the program captured perfectly. And really, it doesn't matter that this is a fictional character, things like this happen to real people in real life. Mocking and trivialising it when it happens on a television show (especially one with as great a cultural impact as Love/Hate) makes it harder for real life victims to speak up. Even setting that aside, if after seeing something that harrowing, your first instinct is to laugh about it, then you really need to reevaluate why you find something like that funny in the first place.
That's just my two cents on the matter, if you have anything to add, please pop it down in the comments below. Sincere apologies if this was upsetting for any of you, if you need to talk to someone about your own experiences, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre provide a great service; (01) 661 4911.