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I held up a mirror to his view of sexual predation as “fun” and funny. Since then, I’ve come to discover that not all rape jokes are inherently harmful – when cleverly designed, they could even offer helpful social commentary.
Personally, while I enjoy casually dating comedians/other professional joke-makers, I tend to fall harder for the "straight man" type, which fits with the aforementioned mating dichotomy.
“’ed him in a good-natured way or stared down at their food politely. ” I’m not sure how he would’ve reacted, but by getting curious and holding a mirror up to him, at least he would have had an opportunity to reflect on another layer of himself I suspect lies well below what he’s used to having confronted.
And the others at the table could have witnessed another possible response to such a joke that is neither combative, condoning nor acquiescing.
So I decided to reach out to my rapist “Dave”, almost exactly 25 years after the event, and see how he was doing.
If I could talk to him about rape, I could talk to anybody. Just sending him that message without any shred of rage left in my heart – just curiosity – was empowering enough.