Joking about assault is not acceptable


Becky Swig

Last week, Wake Forest faculty, staff, students and alumni attended the seventh biennial President’s Ball.

One of the most anticipated events during Homecoming, the Wake Forest community patiently (yet excitedly) awaited for the event and the opportunity to dress up.

President’s Ball is one of the classiest and  formal events on campus. However, something occurred this year that turned me, and many of the attendees off.

While at the LJVM for the main event, something happened that I never expected would happen in a formal and official university event. It was subtle, and if you weren’t actively listening to the live band just after 11 p.m., you would have missed it.

Between two songs, the band made a comment that was innapropriate and offensive. In between two songs, the singer said “I was molested … But I didn’t say I didn’t like it.”

While I do not want to criticize him for potentially being molested, I want to point out that he made a joke out of it in front of thousands of people, including those who may have been sexually assaulted themselves.

While humor may be used to work through the pain of assault, in a setting like this, I don’t think it was appropriate to make such a joke.

People should be able to work through their experiences as needed, and I do not want to take that away from anyone who has been through something like this. I believe there is a time and place for it.

However, I, along with many of my friends, were taken aback when we heard this statement. Our first reaction was confusion as to where he was going with it, but when he finished the statement, we were mad. We were mad that it was said in the first place, we were mad that no one addressed it then and we were mad that everything just continued on.

While it was not heard by all attendees, it was heard by enough. This was an official university event, and a joke about sexual assault was made. What does that say about our school and the kinds of people we allow on campus? If it is okay for someone to say it publicly and in front of thousands of people, what does that mean for making jokes like this in smaller groups and in private?

Making jokes about sexual assault diminishes the severity of molestation and  sexual assault and essentially trivializes it so no one takes it seriously. That is not okay.

Instead, we should be standing up to those who make comments and jokes like this, who diminish the severity of harming someone else and make Wake Forest an environment where people don’t capitlize on making jokes about another’s pain.