Mashable thought this was pretty funny:
This seems like a pretty typical reading of an alien encounter and a live sketch where Ryan Gosling couldn’t keep it together. Hilarious, right?
Except there’s one thing that is particularly disturbing.
Why are we just okay with the narrative here? Taken at face value, we have three individuals who have been kidnapped, one of whom describes in fairly graphic detail waking up half-naked, being observed on by multiple onlookers who are — according to the narrative — taking pleasure in peeping and watching her urinate, and who, later, get in line to take turns fondling her breasts. And this is so hum-drum that the flat retelling of the story in a comedy sketch becomes chuckle-worthy of the actors on stage.
What the actual fuck?
The alien abduction and sex trope may have started with Whitley Streiber’s Communion — a supposedly true account of a man being taken in an alien space ship where they performed experiments on and explored his body — including sexually. When the book came out, it was pretty universally seen as a) a joke and b) a pretty entertaining piece of fiction. In the book, the sexual experiences are not told with any degree of regret or disapproval (in fact, the narrator becomes fairly attached to the aliens who are doing this to him), but never was there any degree of consent. The aliens never said to him (telepathically or otherwise), “hey, is it okay if I make you orgasm for science?” And among the backlash about the book, not once do I recall it ever opening a conversation about male rape or Stockholm syndrome (where the victim falls in love with or empathize with their captors).
And this trope about being abducted with aliens has been so widespread that now it’s just assumed that when anyone talks about being abducted by aliens, it’s obviously for sexual experimentation. So much so that we have the backstory for the SNL sketch above.
Consent is consent. Sexual activity without consent is rape. Whether you were sort of okay with it at the start or you didn’t actually hate it afterwards, if you did not expressly voice consent, it is rape. And this joke isn’t funny. The fact that we think it’s funny is just evidence of how ingrained rape culture is and how messed up our views on sexual consent and ownership of our own bodies are.
Mashable posting this as a ha-ha funny sketch is also troublesome. Not that Mashable is a beacon of light in the darkness of sexist media, particularly, but, in general, they try. Recently, they celebrated a feminist on Tinder who actively trolls the most sexist suitors. They don’t see why this scene is more evidence of rape culture, either.
Surely I’m not the only one, right?
In the SNL sketch, after the abductors were finished, they abandoned the victim on the roof of a Long John Silver’s, still without her pants (and presumably, based on the story, her underwear), which they dropped in a tree several feet away. Again, take this out of the context of the scene for a minute. A woman is abducted, undressed, forced to urinate while others watch, has multiple captors touching her body, and when they are done, they abandon her, half-naked, where she will need to expose herself to others in order to cover her body and go home. There’s no one she can talk to — obviously going to the police in this case would be ineffectual, they are aliens after all — and she can’t even really explain where she’s been or how she got there.
I’m just wondering where the joke is in all this.