So me and a friend had a discussion about prison and it occurred to me that prison rape seems to be, "A-OK!" or "Don't DROP THE SOAP!" Sure its funny as a laugh and as a joke but the reality of it is NOT funny!
If someone was to ever joke about raping a woman in order to "teach her a lesson", or to encourage it as part of her pennance for commiting a crime what do you think would happen?
Why the disconnect?
To recap, it is socially acceptable and funny that someone locked up is going to get raped.
What the fuck?
I don't think that joking about something is an endorsement of it. There are numerous things that are joked about that is not, in reality, all that funny. I've joked about my own future demise countless times, but the reality of it is not all that funny (unless I die in some hilarious manner). The only time I have ever known anyone to be even halfway serious about endorsing prison rape is when they feel it is just desserts for someone who has committed some especicially repugnant crime. Not that I agree with that sentiment, but I fully appreciate it.
Very frightening, very real. Presumably only funny to people who haven't been to prison.
That said, in general, it seems to be treated as a joke for men to get raped. Perhaps because it's not particularly common outside prison? As well, men (mistakenly) feel they would have some kind of fighting chance. Men are not under a constant threat of fear the way I understand women can be. They can afford to laugh at the subject of male rape.
They laugh at what they fear, I think. Many people also seem to hold the view that prison, i.e. loss of liberty, is insufficient punishment, and there should be something "extra". You will hear people (presumably who have never been in one or researched it) describe it as "like a hotel, with TVs and good food, blah blah". It is patently nonsense to think that if the average person were offered the chance of free food and a color television in return for being locked up, and the attendent dangers from other members of the prison population, they would leap at the chance. The prison system owes a duty of care to those in it. Not everyone is a violent offender, and yes, they shouldn't have committed the crimes, but the loss of liberty IS the punishment.
I have to be honest. If someone goes to jail because they are a rapist (rape women, men, or children), nothing would make me happier than to find out out they "dropped the soap" while in prison.
I will grant you that my feeling here is not at all rational. A very close friend of mine was nearly gang-raped a few years ago. Her boyfriend, her brother, two friends, and myself managed to save her by using baseball bats to beat the living s**t out of the inhuman monsters who were raping her. To this day, the only regret I have is that I was unable to kill just one of them. And I still keep in contact with the other 4 who saved her, and they share this.
That incident has left me with a very visceral, very strong emotional response to rape. Nothing, of course, like what she went through and is going though to this day. Nothing like what the victims go through and deal with afterwards. But rape is something I absolutely hate enough that I can't even read about it in books or watch even a hint about it in shows/movies (this is why I won't be seeing "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"... I read the book to that part and couldn't finish it). And it's damn near impossible for me to override the emotion with a rational response. I hate people who rape with such a passion that I really don't give a f**k what happens to them after they're caught.
And here's where I contradict myself:
Let them get gang-raped and have their balls chopped off and shoved down their throats while in prison for all I care. Let them get gang-raped to death. Means nothing to me.
And obviously I'm fully aware that this is contradictory. Here I am talking about how much I hate it, then saying I'm all for the rapist getting raped. Here's the only possible defense I can muster: no one deserves to be raped, except for rapists. (That's the best I can do for a defense of my contradiction.)
This is why I fully and completely believe that Penn State should not have Football ever again. For 17 years Sandusky got away with it. Penn State was right to fire Paterno because he did f**k all about it (oh... he fulfilled his legal obligations... excuse me while I not give a f**k about "legal obligations" in this instance). And when those students rioted in support of Joe, I have to admit that my first response to it was "nuke 'em". Why? Because the retarded, cult-worshiping a**holes cared more about their Football than the victimized children. I was sick.
It's also a very big reason for my hatred of the Catholic church and my belief that it should be dismantled piece-by-piece, with the Vatican essentially being run over.
Again... yes, this is a completely emotional, utterly irrational response to it, and no, I don't hate anyone who thinks differently. In fact, that y'all can look at it with more rational heads is something I envy. I respect you for it. I'm not proud of the reaction I have to the crime. In fact, when I realize this is how I react, I only get angrier because I get angry at myself. It's contradictory, irrational, and does more harm than good. But it's also a reaction I find extremely hard to control.
Don't get me wrong, Nathan, I am anti-capital punishment, but if someone harmed my family I'd cheerfully administer the lethal injection myself, so I get your dichotomy (is that the right term?). But, in allowing this sort of behaviour, the prison staff are effectively ceding control to the inmates. This already happens, particularly in the USA, where racial segregation and gang allegiances seem to be instituionalized within th eprisons. We have to remember that the staff have to work there, and creating an atmosphere where violence is tolerated makes their working conditions more dangerous, and what does it do to the prison staff psychologically if they are asked, if not condone, to turn a blind eye to the violence? Your recognition of your dual viewpoint does you credit, if you ask me (which you didn't :-) )
In the heat of the moment, in warm blood, how do those people think they've got any rights? Even in cold blood, I would get that **** if I could.
I think dichotomy is the correct word... yeah...
But, in allowing this sort of behaviour, the prison staff are effectively ceding control to the inmates. This already happens, particularly in the USA, where racial segregation and gang allegiances seem to be instituionalized within th eprisons. We have to remember that the staff have to work there, and creating an atmosphere where violence is tolerated makes their working conditions more dangerous, and what does it do to the prison staff psychologically if they are asked, if not condone, to turn a blind eye to the violence?
I see what you're saying. And it makes sense. On a rational level, you are absolutely right. I honestly just find it next-to-impossible to be rational about it. And no, that's not to my credit. It's to your credit that you're rational about it.
I am a retired Correctional Lieutenant from the Ohio system. I can tell you that what is actually going on here is a sort of urban legend meme. We actually have extremely strict laws in place including PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act) and in Ohio we have policies that mirror PREA in the 79-ISA series if you want to look them up. They govern prevention, reporting and investigation. Now, let me explain my "urban legend" comment. YES people do get raped in prison. I will never, ever deny that. However, 90% of the sexual conduct in prison is consensual. There are a great many prostitutes. So many, in fact, that rape is rare simply from a "supply and demand" standpoint. OK I can already hear the yelling... According to PREA there is no such thing as consensual sex in prison. No matter how much you say its ok, according to the law, it is still rape. That creates a little bit of confusion, especially when it comes to conducting an investigation. So I am assuming for the purposes of the post, that for rape, you mean the exertion of sexual force either physically or mentally upon another person.
Now about the "don't drop the soap" stuff. Yes, for better or worse, we do joke about prison rape. If you look throughout history, any particualrly repugnant activity has a component of humor assigned to it. It is a sort of coping mechanism called "gallow's humor". You have to be able to joke about horrible things that you are confronted with on a daily basis for the simple purpose of not going crazy. Sometimes it can really get to you and humor is an escape from that. The best I can say is that the humor is not meant to be heard by people on the outside. People who live it, understand it. So to answer your question, no prison rape is not ok, its not condoned, its not used as punishment. (At least not in Ohio).
Thanks Darrell. Very informative. But I'm not sure I agree completely with your last sentence. Just because the law makes something a crime doesn't mean that society at large condemns it. In fact, just because people say they're against something doesn't mean they really are. I've always felt, living in the U.S., that people viewed prison rape as part and parcel of punishment and that there's nothing truly wrong about it.
I see what you're saying but... let me propose it this way. In my 17 years on the inside, I can name 2 instances when I am absolutely sure that the person in question was raped, (roughly forced, against his will to be on the receiving end of a sexual attack.) We were aware of sex, prostitution, etc on a daily basis. They hire lookouts so its not very easy to catch and the plain truth of the matter is, we try very hard to not catch it. (insert creepy, heebie-jeebie, skin-crawling sensation here).
I think what people living in the United States condone is the myth of sexual assault in prison. People want to believe that the person who wronged them will be wronged in return. People view hell, karma and prison rape as this generalized cosmic power of retribution without any clear evident, support or definition. I really do think that the people who "condone" it would feel much different if they had to actually stand there and watch or see the physical or psychological aftermath. At best, they are simply subscribing to a societal meme without any true understanding of what it means or if, in fact, it even actually happens. Then once they have placated themselves by wishing some mythical retribution upon another person, they go on with life, without giving it another thought.
Maybe in addition to this, in agreement with Darrel Mont, some docs from Louis Theroux:
San Quentin: (4 parts) http://www.documentairenet.nl/review/louis-theroux-behind-bars/
Miami County Jail: (2) http://www.documentairenet.nl/review/louis-theroux-miami-mega-jail/
Your discussion reminded me of this:
I agree with most of what he says, but he forgets that 90+% of inter-gender abuse is men abusing women.