"Rape me, I’m Irish": An Analysis of the Intersecting Discourses of Anti-Irish Racism and Sexual Violence

Jemma Tosh


Well documented experiences of the Irish diaspora in England include humiliation, discrimination, and higher rates of suicide and psychiatric intervention (Hickman, 2000). However, the construction of the Irish in relation to rape has rarely been considered, despite the longstanding history of the term being used as a metaphor in the context of colonization (Sharkey, 1994). This paper examines intersecting discourses around anti-Irish racism and sexual violence through a genealogical tracing of the concept of rape in relation to men, women, and the discursive category of “The Irish.” This historically situated, discourse analysis (Parker, 2003, 2014) includes contemporary material from microblogs (Java, Song, Finan, & Tseng, 2007). It reveals the construction of the Irish as passive recipients of sexual conquest (whether consensual or coercive) that implies sexual availability. Whether it is the popular “Kiss me I’m Irish” or the more aggressive “Rape me I’m Irish” “joke,” the conceptual Irish body is positioned as an object for others to act upon. This analysis exposes the myth of white homogeneity and the relative invisibility of anti-Irish racism, particularly when combined with other axes of oppression such as gender and class. For professionals working with victims of violence, the complex relationship between colonialism, sectarianism, and racism should be considered beyond visible differences and black–white dichotomies.


Rape; racism; Irish; colonization; gender

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