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Gentile, K. (2017). Playing With Shame: The Temporal Work of Rape Jokes for the Cultural Body. Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 18(4):287-293.

(2017). Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 18(4):287-293

Playing With Shame: The Temporal Work of Rape Jokes for the Cultural Body

Katie Gentile, Ph.D.

Legal scholar Christopher Stone wrote that humor often functions in culture as a way of dealing with “social growing pains.” In this context, jokes about rape become a form of testimony to the anxiety and defensive reaction of the privileged to being asked to acknowledge the basic foundational legitimacy of the call for equal rights around genders and sexualities. Fueled by Place’s performance of “The Ontology of the Rape Joke” (this issue), this essay explores some of the temporal functions the proliferation of rape jokes are playing for the social body in this time of change. These functions include creating spaces for shame to be displaced from the heterosexual male body into the female, who becomes not just a site of domination and violation but also one of risk management techniques aimed at securing futurity, once again, through the control of women’s bodies and desires.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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