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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.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less