I Caught My Middle-Aged, White Friends Joking About Rape

As a 51-year-old woman, I keep in touch with many high school friends, some of whom I’ve known since the 4th grade. However, it’s clear to me that several of them need to be schooled in decency.

Just yesterday, I was copied on a text thread started by one of them. I’m not sure why they included me, since the convo was about golf (and I don’t golf). It’s safe to say it was an oversight, particularly after the conversation took the tone it did — though I’m glad it happened.

It’s important that others see what I saw.

It began as a seemingly innocent update from one friend to four others, then added a joking reference to rape — followed by total defense of the language.

Offended, I left the conversation and am now sharing the exchange through screen shots (below), though I’m concealing others’ identifying details to protect their privacy.

And I’m doing this because it’s important to show the ripple effect that “jokes among friends” can make.

To be sure, some will say I’m being “too sensitive”, or that the offensive comments were simply made in jest, or that such a lighthearted, private exchange between friends was never intended to offend or to be offered for public consumption.

And that’s fine.

You be the judge.

Jokes Between Friends

Here’s how it went down.

Friend A, a male, sends a group text to four of us:

•Me
Friend B (male)
Person C*
Friend D (male)

*Person C’s number was — and remains — unfamiliar to me.

The thread begins with a short video from Friend A, shot on a golf course. He wears a wrist brace and challenges Friend B to a friendly shoot-off in the near future on a putting green.

Under the video, Friend A writes: “MONDAY MORNING ENTERTAINMENT.”

I watch the video. Then, I’m struck by Friend B’s response:

Hands of a RAPIST?!?!

He didn’t mean to type “rapist,” did he? What other word would autocorrect to rapist? What golf term did he misspell that autocorrects to rapist??

At this point, it is, perhaps, important for you to know two things about my high school experience:

1. I experienced sexual assault.
2. I was a cheerleader. You’ll see why this is important in a minute.

Friend A chimes back in, feigning injury over Friend B’s ribbing:

So here I am, reading along in real time as the thread unfolds. And after reading the word rapist again, I wince, then respond (in blue).

After all, I reason in my head, Friend B is a decent, family guy…right? He’s received awards in his community. He’s worked with kids. This just has to be a misunderstanding, right?!?!

Yet I can’t help but wonder what the hell these idiots think a rapist’s hands even look like?

Grabby? Gropey? Forceful? Uncontrolled?
Dirty? Gloved? Quick? Clumsy?
Sloppy? Desperate? Intense?
Angry? Shameful?
Pathetic?

As my heart rate goes up, I expect to see an explanation from Friend B…like a correction…or an apology…or some combination of both.

Nope. Doesn’t happen.

Instead, Person C (whose number I don’t recognize) decides to weigh in.

I look at my phone in utter disbelief. Who is that person?

Friend B, probably recognizing my number, then tries to diffuse the situation, and falls miserably short.

He says they’re sharing “Golf talk, Chrissy. Not cheerleading talk” – because apparently, when you’re talking about golf, you’re allowed (as grown men) to joke about rape.

Duh.

And so, I call him out…and yet he still holds the line, trying to assuage me with the classic (and entirely ineffective) “No offense intended” line:

“Never heard golfers talk that way,” I write, adding “#notcoolguys”.

And then, I leave the thread.

To be sure, these guys are idiots. They’re ignorant. They’re clueless morons.

And believe me, those terms are CHARITABLE.

Also, to Friend D’s credit, he never responded to the thread. Whether he was busy at the time — or he knew better — I don’t know.

While I can’t change the guys or what they said, I can point out to others what they’ve done.

My hope is we can all feel empowered to call out our peers if — and when — similar “jokes” are made, because scenes like this play out every day, and they only perpetuate rape culture.

Behavior like this must be pointed out — and stopped.

And at the end of the day, jokes like that just aren’t even funny.

Writing Coach. Journalist. Author. Marathoner. Lover of emotions, words & spicy nachos. Find me on Twitter & Insta @tinywolf1, and at www.christinewolf.com

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