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Rape jokes weren't funny. Until this feminist website made a bunch of them.

Rape jokes can be funny — when the target is rape culture.

Rape jokes weren't funny. Until this feminist website made a bunch of them.

Something truly unique happened recently on the internet: A comedy website made rape jokes that were actually funny.

Reductress is a hilarious, witty, and unapologetically feminist website where writers take on issues like body image, "lady" marketing, fashion, and important moments in culture.

In this case, Reductress was responding to this story: Basically, anonymous female NYC comedians who reported being sexual assaulted by a male comedian were met not with support. Instead, they were faced with doubt, insults, and even deeply offensive jokes at their expense.


For Reductress' all-female editorial board, enough was enough.

On Aug. 17, 2016, Reductress published article after article full of jokes about rape.

By the evening, they had filled the entire homepage.

Image from Aug. 17, 2016, via Reductress.

The stories weren't full of the typical and incredibly hurtful jokes that we often hear, though. Instead, the jokes pointed out common tropes and misconceptions about rape, hitting on all the issues that are oh-so-familiar to sexual assault survivors and their allies.

For example:

If you're tired of hearing that women are "lying about rape to get attention," reading "I Anonymously Reported My Rape for the Anonymous Attention" might feel pretty cathartic.

If you're sick of the reminder that most survivors of sexual assault know their attacker personally, "Man who sexually assaulted you likes your Facebook Post about assault" will ring agonizingly true.

If you're outraged by a justice system that can sometimes seem eager to find fault in sexual assault survivors, the first paragraph of "Fun Summer Cocktails When They Ask You 'Well, What Were You Drinking?'" will fill you up:

"Summer time and living’s easy! Unless you’re being questioned about a traumatic sexual assault. Luckily, there are refreshing and light cocktails in season, which you can throw back when police, detectives, doctors, friends, and acquaintances ask you, 'Well, what were you drinking that night?'"

Not surprisingly, people loved it.

Most rape jokes usually have two things in common: They're made at the expense of survivors (who are often female), and the jokes are almost exclusively made by men.

Those kind of rape jokes aren't funny to a lot of people, though. For survivors and allies, they can resurface buried trauma. For women, they can be a reminder that 1 in 3 of us will be sexually assaulted in our lifetimes.

And, let's be real: For comedy in general, they're pretty darn lazy. As Garry Trudeau ("Doonesbury") famously reminded us last year: The best jokes "punch up," never down. It's the difference between making fun of a kid who falls over and making fun of the grown man who tripped him.

Or, in this case, making fun of the culture surrounding rape instead of its victims.

True

When Molly Reeser was a student at Michigan State University, she took a job mucking horse stalls to help pay for classes. While she was there, she met a 10-year-old girl named Casey, who was being treated for cancer, and — because both were animal lovers — they became fast friends.

Two years later, Casey died of cancer.

"Everyone at the barn wanted to do something to honor her memory," Molly remembers. A lot of suggestions were thrown out, but Molly knew that there was a bigger, more enduring way to do it.

"I saw firsthand how horses helped Casey and her family escape from the difficult and terrifying times they were enduring. I knew that there must be other families who could benefit from horses in the way she and her family had."

Molly approached the barn owners and asked if they would be open to letting her hold a one-day event. She wanted to bring pediatric cancer patients to the farm, where they could enjoy the horses and peaceful setting. They agreed, and with the help of her closest friends and the "emergency" credit card her parents had given her, Molly created her first Camp Casey. She worked with the local hospital where Casey had been a patient and invited 20 patients, their siblings and their parents.

The event was a huge success — and it was originally meant to be just that: a one-day thing. But, Molly says, "I believe Casey had other plans."

One week after the event, Molly received a letter from a five-year-old boy who had brain cancer. He had been at Camp Casey and said it was "the best day of his life."

"[After that], I knew that we had to pull it off again," Molly says. And they did. Every month for the next few years, they threw a Camp Casey. And when Molly graduated, she did the most terrifying thing she had ever done and told her parents that she would be waitressing for a year to see if it might be possible to turn Camp Casey into an actual nonprofit organization. That year of waitressing turned into six, but in the end she was able to pull it off: by 2010, Camp Casey became a non-profit with a paid staff.

"I am grateful for all the ways I've experienced good luck in my life and, therefore, I believe I have a responsibility to give back. It brings me tremendous joy to see people, animals, or things coming together to create goodness in a world that can often be filled with hardships."

Camp Casey serves 1500 children under the age of 18 each year in Michigan. "The organization looks different than when it started," Molly says. "We now operate four cost-free programs that bring accessible horseback riding and recreational services to children with cancer, sickle cell disease, and other life-threatening illnesses."

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