A recent attempt by a business called Claire’s to attack underage drinking was the following ad, claiming that drinking would lead to prison…which, essentially, would make one a gay prison bitch:
The add has since been pulled, but I am surprised it hasn’t made a bigger stir. For starters, “Queen” is a complicated term within the queer community. Some use it proudly, but when used derisively it implies that being feminine and possibly a gay man is a bad thing. This alone should have made the ad controversial. My biggest problem with it, however, is something that I have noticed a lot in mainstream culture, which I think is not nearly discussed enough by the queer OR feminist communities: using prison rape as the…”butt” of jokes (oh my god I’m sorry that isn’t funny).
In our culture, there seems to be an idea that prison rape is funny and somehow acceptable, just because the victims have committed a crime in order to be imprisoned. While Television shows such as “Bad Girls” and “Oz” have portrayed the seriousness of this issue, jokes about “dropping the soap” are commonplace, and people even vindictively rejoice in the fact that a criminal may end up being “punished” for his or her crimes by other inmates, as well as the government.
I don’t mean to imply that jokes about prison rape are more offensive than other jokes, the problem is that prison rape is automatically treated as a joke, even though it is incredibly wide spread and often goes unreported. Additionally, Just Detention International reports that “inmates who are gay, transgender, young, mentally ill, or incarcerated for the first time and for non-violent offenses are at highest risk.” The trauma of this rape–often leading to suicide–can be accompanied by diseases and other physical problems. Clearly, prison rape is not a joke.
Claire’s may not have said “Don’t drink or you’ll go to prison and get raped, ya big queer”, but the media needs to start taking the issue of prison rape more seriously. More than that, feminists, queer activisits, and EVERYONE ELSE on the outside needs to start taking a more pressing interest in this serious issue.