In a dark movie theater, a few “Hunger Games” fans are laughing at Katniss Everdeen’s pain.
There’s a moment in the new “Mockingjay — Part 1” when the life is nearly choked out of her. We watch the capillaries in her eyes burst, painting the whites red before she passes out. Later, as she lies in bed in a neck brace, a soldier assures her the attacker has been apprehended alive.
“I just had to get him off you,” he says.
This is not comic relief. No, this is dismal — one of the hardest scenes to stomach in both the books and the movies. But people in the audience laugh. I can’t figure out why. And I’m afraid it’s because crimes against women are not taken seriously. Women are often dismissed as objects and property.
People are joking about the mounting rape allegations against legendary comic Bill Cosby. This week alone, former model Janice Dickinson, Florida nurse Therese Serignese and Carla Ferrigno, wife of “Incredible Hulk” Lou Ferrigno, all shared their stories of Cosby forcing himself on them.
It’s devastating enough that a man we’ve celebrated for decades could be responsible for such violations. But people find the funny in these horrific experiences and ask victim-blaming questions. Tuesday, CNN’s Don Lemon basically asked Joan Tarshis, one of the women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault, why she didn’t fight back when he forced her to perform oral sex.
“You know, there are ways not to perform oral sex if you didn’t want to do it,” Lemon said. People continue to ask why these women didn’t come forward, fight harder and do more to get justice. Look around. We’re in a world where a man on national television can make it a woman’s responsibility to save herself from rape.
Such patriarchy. It took a male comedian making a few Cosby rape jokes to catapult decades of allegations into the spotlight. It’s not enough for a woman, or more than a dozen women, to speak up. A man had to use it in his comedy routine for people to listen. Darkly humorous social media memes aimed at Cosby made headlines before the weight of the allegations soaked in.
Rape, assault and abuse are not funny. Last month, people put on Ray Rice Halloween costumes and made light of the beating of Janay Rice. They went on a scavenger hunt to ogle the private, nude pictures leaked of celebrities including Gabrielle Union and “Hunger Games” star Jennifer Lawrence.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, an average of 60 percent of assaults in the last five years were not reported. Until we learn to have serious conversations about these topics, victims will continue to suffer in silence while predators proudly walk among us ready to pounce on their prey.
When you think about it, that’s nothing to laugh about. Is it?