By: Nik Moreno
(Content Warning: Sex, Rape, Rape Culture, Coercion)
It goes without saying that almost anyone with a social media account has seen or read a meme or a post with the “Netflix and chill,” or “______ and chill” joke(s) in it at least once –if not many more times– in the last several months. So many memes with this joke have spread like wildfire over the past several months, but have we actually stopped to think, or realize just what it is that we’re actually joking about?
Okay, so let’s break this whole concept down, and examine this joke on a more serious level. So, Person 1 invites Person 2 over to their place, under the pretense that they’re going to watch Netflix and hang out with Person 2, and nothing more, right? But all the while, Person 1 has a plan to convince Person 2 to have sex with them at some point, after they’ve gotten comfortable.
The joke usually goes something like “10 minutes into Netflix and chill and he/she/they gives/give you this look…” followed by a photo of someone or something making a suggestive or persuasive-looking face.
In short, you’re basically making jokes and memes about coercion, and as all, or most of us know— coercion = rape. No matter what. Even if the person being coerced says yes (because of the pressure that was put onto them by Person 1). Inviting someone over with ulterior motives, without telling the person, or asking for consent beforehand is wrong!
Essentially, you’re sharing and creating rape jokes and memes. At the end of the day, we become no better than frat boys who make and share violent rape jokes and euphemisms so open and freely, and never even think twice about it. Rape culture is so ingrained in our society, that often times we don’t even realize it. We learn and internalize this rape cultured rhetoric – in a broad sense, not just this specific joke – from a very young age. We often hear things like “boys will be boys” or hear adults shaming or blaming survivors of rape, abuse, and other acts of sexual violence.
See, coercion has become so normalized nowadays; especially towards women and femmes. Men and masculine folks get caught up in their masculine fragility and their feelings get hurt when someone tells them “no,” and most times they become predatorial, whether they’re knowingly doing it, or not; it doesn’t matter. They often coerce women and femmes in many different ways – through changing their tone while speaking, often coming off as intimidating, using forceful or dominant body language, and through mannerisms. There’s also a lot of white supremacy at play here too. Women of color, especially Black women and femmes are more likely to experience sexual violence.
We see coercion rampant throughout nightlife as well. A person at a night club or bar buys a drink for someone they find attractive, as a means to get them to have sex with them. Having someone buy you a drink in this context is sometimes, even, seen as a compliment; which is the scary part because we grow up being taught that this is a sign that a person is attracted to you, and that it’s good or flattering. But often times folks who are being predatorial use this as a way to imply “well, I’ve bought you a drink, now what are you going to do for me?” This is automatically rape. Giving someone alcohol before sex hinders the person’s ability to properly give consent. And furthermore it’s using manipulation and exploitation to violate someone’s agency over their body. Coercion has become so normalized that holding rapists accountable, through the legal system, is almost impossible. From a young age, we’re told to excuse masculine folks’ for the harmful things they do, and overlook the violence they enact on women and femmes, because “boys will be boys.” But the fact still remains that coercion is rape; there’s no way around that.
We see it in the media too. Think: how many movies or shows have we seen where a boy takes a girl on a date only to touch her without her consent, or try to convince or manipulate her into having sex with him? I bet we can all name at least ten movies or shows, where this occurs, easily!
By sharing these jokes and memes, we reinforce and perpetuate this extremely harmful, violent line of thinking and the stigmas that come along with it. We are perpetuating rape culture, only to share some laughs, at the expense of rape and sexual assault/abuse survivors everywhere.
There are some folk who will say it’s no big deal, or that this article is written by someone who’s simply overreacting, but it definitely is a big deal. Especially with being a survivor myself. Much of my sexual trauma started very young and was often initiated with some degree of coercion. Needless to say, the topic of coercion definitely hits home and strikes an extremely personal, vulnerable chord with me.
We need to be speaking out about this, and dismantling these ugly stigmas, instead of enforcing them. We need to take the time to check and analyze ourselves and evaluate why we think jokes like these are funny. And further ask ourselves how male/masculine privilege, among other power structures play into why we find jokes like these, and rape jokes in general, funny. Coercion is not something to joke about or to be taken lightly. We need to stop these jokes because really, what you’re joking about is “rape culture and chill.”
It’s time – as bluntly as I can put it – to cut the crap already. Rape jokes aren’t funny, and if you make rape jokes or find them funny, you’re part of the problem! Coercion is scary, and often extremely traumatizing; that’s why we need to stop the “Netflix and chill” jokes!
Nik Moreno is a22-year-old, Chicanx, disabled, Queer, Nonbinary Femme hailing from south Texas, but currently living in northeast Pennsylvania. He’s been an activist and community organizer since 2011. He’s very passionate about crocheting, intersectional feminism, activism and advocacy against ableism and sanism (for folks with disabilities and mental illnesses), and writing zines and articles to continue to educate about institutional power structures. Eventually they plan to go to College as a Cosmetology major and continue to write, advocate, and educate to shatter the white supremacist, cis/hetero patriarchy!