Title: Our Prisons, Ourselves: Race, Gender and the Rule of Law
Prison rape is a canard of popular culture. Comedians from Jay Leno to street-corner wiseguys recycle the tired joke: “Don’t drop the soap,” or some big, scary criminal will make you his “bitch.” This jocular fear is often racialized: “A running joke throughout movies concerns the theme in which a very large Black male prisoner threatens a boy . . . [who may be] raped or ‘punked’ by a Mike Tyson-esque character.” These jokes reveal one of men’s starkest fears about prison: that they will be unmanned or “made gay” by being sexually assaulted by a big black man.