Hey, Captain Rogers. We need to talk.
I know you're probably still behind on your reading, so you may not know what 'rape culture' is. You probably haven't seen the studies showing that rape jokes convince rapists that their behavior is acceptable.
But you do know that rape jokes aren't funny.
You know this because you're a decent human being. You want to see all people treated fairly. You know there is nothing even remotely funny about rape. If you could do something to reduce the prevalence of rape in the world, or even just affirm the humanity of those who've survived it, you'd do it in a heartbeat. You're a hero, after all.
But Cap, when your buddy Tony Stark cracked a rape joke, you dropped the ball.
I get it. You froze. You didn't want to make things weird, or blow one vulgar joke out of proportion. I mean, what do you even say to something like that?
I'm glad you asked. Here's what you say:
- "Dude, not cool."
- "Rape jokes aren't funny."
Go ahead and try those out a few times. I'm serious. It might sound goofy, but standing up to your buddies is hard. If you practice, you'll be a lot more prepared to respond in the moment.
I'll tell you what, though. As hard as it is to stand up to your buddies, when you do it, you won't do it alone. When you make it clear that you're not okay with rape jokes, you make room for others to say the same.
I can't be certain, but I'm pretty sure that this is how the story would go if you'd told Stark he was out of line:
"I will be re-instituting prima nocta," Tony said, reaching for the hammer.
Steve lowered his drink, looking at Tony as if he'd just ripped a noxious fart in the middle of the party. "Really, Tony?"
"Wait," Tony said. "You get jokes now? When did that happen?"
Thor frowned. "Are not jokes supposed to be funny?"
"He's got you there," said Bruce.
Tony yanked on the hammer. It didn't budge. "Fine. Cap, let's see you lift it."
Steve rose and walked to the hammer, rolling his shoulders to loosen his muscles before grabbing the handle.
The hammer was lighter than Steve expected. It was half an inch off the table before he even realized he'd lifted it.
He dropped it immediately, and spent the next ten seconds pretending to pull.
Tony already felt like a jackass. There was no need to rub it in.
That's how it would have gone.
And you want to know the best part?
You don't need to be a super-soldier for these lines to work. Normal guys can use them, too.