Trigger warnings for discussions of rape and rape culture.
As so often happens, another “comedian” has thought it hilarious to tell rape jokes.
But I must be fair, there are two sides to the story. The victim tells her story which can be summarised as:
- She goes to a comedy show
- Tosh starts talking about how rape jokes are always funny
- She calls out that they aren’t and that they are hurtful
- Tosh quips about how great it would be to see her get gang-raped.
He later fauxpologises. The woman and all her supporters are bullied, intimidated and threatened with rape by Tosh’s supporters. The victim is roundly criticised for being a heckler, and how incredibly rude that is. Of course, threatening to rape someone isn’t rude at all.
However, the other side of the story is slightly different.
- Tosh calls for subjects from the audience.
- Someone yells out “Rape!”
- the victim replies to that request saying that rape is not funny, but extremely hurtful and damaging
- Tosh allegedly then exclaims how it sounds like the victim had just been gang-raped by 5 men and laughs.
So “all” he did was laugh at the idea of someone being raped. Well, that is sooo much better.
What is striking about this is that Tosh’s supporters seem to think that his version of events is acceptable. Never mind the fact that, in his version of events, there was no heckling. He asked for subjects, one person replied, and another person asked for something NOT to be used. That ain’t heckling, that is responding to the question Tosh asked of the crowd.
Many of his supporters have gone on about how comedy allows people to discuss things that are normally taboo. Well, sometimes that is true. But if you want to talk about rape, and rape culture, then talk about it. Engage in real discussion about the real effects, about what really happens. Talk with people who know about the subject and gain an understanding of it.
Others have commented that comedy is some people’s way of coping. Well, unless the comedian was raped and it is his or her way of dealing with that as part of their therapy, then that is a load of bullshit.
Some time back, I was in regular battles on “rape joke” Facebook pages. In one particular discussion, one person said she was a rape victim said that these pages were necessary for her to cope with what she went through. I knew I had to be very careful and delicate with my wording here. I tried to explain that the pages themselves are not necessary. She may find them helpful for her, but that is not to say that there aren’t other more helpful mechanisms – ones that don’t create great harm for others. I was told to come back when I became a psychologist. I just dropped it at that point because I knew continuing the discussion was not going to be helpful to anyone, and saying “I have seen enough rape and survival to give me some credence in this matter” (and believe me – I have) would have been inflammatory.
I love what Scuba Nurse wrote about this in an earlier episode where New Zealand comedian, Raybon Kan told similar jokes, but responded aggressively to a large number of people who walked out of his show.
Others wrote about how each rape “joke” is a drop in the ocean. And it is an ocean filled with dangerous predators. Fast-moving, vicious currents swirling all around you. And so many people mistakenly view each “joke” as a separate entity. About how, because of one “joke”, someone will not go out and commit rape. These people are fuckwits. In part because they do not know this for a fact. It might just be that after a lifetime of conditioning about how “normal” rape is, that the last joke they hear is the trigger they needed. But they are mostly fuckwits because they do not see that each “joke”, each time someone defends the person telling it, each time someone does nothing about it, it builds a picture of what is accepted, what it normal, of what is OK in our society.
In the Daniel Tosh case, it isn’t his comments that disturb me the most. What disturbs me the most if the vile attitudes of his supporters. The numerous threats of rape they have made – online no less – to his detractors. The fact that their behaviour demonstrates precisely why rape “jokes” are incredibly harmful – not just to survivors of sexual assault and rape, but to all society. This is closely followed by the second most disturbing point – she was the only one in the audience to do this.
Many of his supporters and other rape-apologists have claimed that he has apologised and we should all just move on. OK, let’s examine his apology.
all the out of context misquotes aside, i’d like to sincerely apologize http://j.mp/PJ8bNs
Using my earlier post as a guide, I am left wondering:
- What is he apologising for?
- To whom?
- What has he learned?
- What will he do to prevent it from happening again?
Merely saying “I apologize” is not an apology. It is just saying a bunch of words that make you feel better. It is selfish and I call utter bullshit on it.
Many, many years ago, I went to a play called “Comedians“. Now unlike people who actually tell racist, sexist and rape “jokes”, this play examined the nature of such jokes and their propriety. In 1975! (Come on, tell me about the modern “political correctness”). What perhaps best describes this are the user reviews of the TV show based on the play. About the difference between true comedy, and just spilling a whole lot of shit to get a laugh from some people.
One of the best MSM responses to the Tosh issue is from The Daily Beast. And as the author of this article points out, there are rape “jokes”, and there are rape jokes. The latter was an example of a survivor using her experiences and the nature of the reaction of society to ridicule the culture, not to feed it. And Tosh made overt threats or at least incitements to commit violent sexual crimes.
There is no such thing, in my view, as a rape joke. There are people who will poke fun at rape survivors, who find rape culture funny, who trivialise and normalise rape, who massively contribute to rape culture. And there are people who have managed to deal with their own experiences through humour directed either at themselves or society’s really shitty attitudes. Neither of these are rape jokes. The former is a continuation of abuse, the latter is one person dealing with their own issues.
The reason why “rape jokes” are never funny is because there is no such thing as a rape joke. No matter how much apologists will try to convince you of it.