Thursday, July 12, 2012

Daniel Tosh and rape jokes

If you haven't heard yet about Daniel Tosh and his rape "joke," you're slacking on keeping up with the internet.  Shame!  Just kidding.  I was questioned last night by someone who doesn't quite think what Daniel Tosh was wrong; moreover, he thought that the lady in question wasn't being honest, and that nobody will ever know for sure what was said.  I had no words to respond, and as I do more often than not, I fumed and became huffy that someone couldn't understand something I wasn't saying.  Imagine that!  Someone couldn't read my mind.

So in an effort to clarify my feelings on the subject, here we are.  There are dozens of articles already, and they are all probably better well written than this one will be, but here this is anyway.

To start I guess you have to ask the obvious question: is rape funny?  More broadly, is there any topic that should be "hands off" for every comedian?

Practically, the answer is no.  No subject will ever be off limits for everyone.  That being said, I don't believe that any topic should be off limits.  Yes, I said it.  I don't think rape "jokes"are off limits.  That's going to get me in trouble with my feminist friends and probably a lot more.  Now let me clarify a bit more: rape isn't funny.  If you think rape is funny, I have no words for you.  I don't think anyone in his right mind thinks that rape is funny (unless you're a very special kind of asshole).

I will never use rape as a joke.  I prefer not to hear rape jokes, because I think it makes the comedian unattractive.  There are literally thousands of things you can make light of; making light of a traumatizing event experienced by a minority of the population is just picking low hanging fruit.  I will never appreciate, laugh at, or think that jokes that take aim at a marginalized group of people are funny.

Do I think they can serve a purpose?  Yes.  I'm trying very hard to remember a Family Guy skit that used rape and that I thought was useful.  I don't remember exactly, but it was clever, and it was set up in a way that used the joke as a tool to expose rape culture.  That, I think, is useful.  It was jarring, clear, and made me actually appreciate it.  Here are two more examples from this Jezebel article (I think this article is one of the better ones I've read so far on this subject).

So do I think rape jokes are funny?  Never.  Do I think they can be useful is making people stop, think, examine their privilege, and come away with a better understanding of what those (mainly) women go through?  Yes.

All that being said, Daniel Tosh was not being funny.  Daniel Tosh was being a bully.  To go back to the impetus of this writing, was this young lady lying?  My response: I will always stand with the victim.  This is a world dominated by men, in law enforcement and entertainment.  The facts are these: mostly women, people of color, and trans* people are the victims of rape.  Minorities.  By sheer numbers alone, in most cases, these people are not in positions in power.  And as someone who is constantly questioning the "power," the patriarchy, and the government, it would be ridiculous of me to simply close the book and say, "nope, no facts!  Must just ignore it and possibly let someone who is in no position of power feel even more marginalized."

Again, Daniel Tosh was not being funny.  Would it be funny to rape someone?  No, you fucking jackass.  Odds are, Sir White-Straight-Cis-Male with a legion of fans, money, and a TV network behind you, you will never be raped.  You will never fear for your safety in a comedy club while some man extols just how fucking hilarious it would be if you were raped.  Same for you, other male comedians (I'm looking at you Louie C.K.).  It's easy to jump up and hide behind the "if we can't joke about one thing we can't joke about anything!!!" guise.  Stop being cowards and stop acting like victims.  Man the fuck up.  Nobody is telling you the that you can't say something (remember, Americcaaaaa).  Take the backlash and admit (really admit) that you dun fucked up, Daniel Tosh.  You weren't funny; you were perpetuating violence and being a bully.  You are not a victim.

And to touch briefly on the subject of "but there's no outcry when it's male rape!"  You're right.  There isn't.  When it becomes apparent that white, cis, straight men are being raped more than women, people of color, and trans* people, then maybe there will be an outcry.  We are a long, long, long way from that though.  Until then, keep your MRA conspiracies to yourself and again: you are not a victim.

I think I've sufficiently summed up how I feel on this matter.

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