If you’re like most people, you love a good rape joke.
Come on, violence against women, how is that ever not funny?
Unless you’re one of those holdouts who prefers their humor without inflicting pain on people who have already suffered more than anyone should, of course.
So Daniel Tosh was telling some rape jokes, as comedians will from time to time, and when an audience member told him that rape jokes are never funny, (apparently women are allowed to speak in public these days) he responded that it would indeed be very funny if she got raped right now by a couple of guys.
We’d call this an intellectual disagreement, except, well, you know– Tosh. Although I obviously wasn’t there (sigh) it seems pretty clear that Tosh’s response came from a place of anger and not humor. A place of violence. And possibly from a place of being an asshole. He was heckled, he was called out and his response was a sophomoric variation of “no, YOU are!” And it wasn’t funny. It wasn’t funny to the people who heard it, it wasn’t funny to the people who read it, it wasn’t funny to anyone who doesn’t find humor in violence against women. It was a variation of “fuck the bitch!” and it’s offensive that someone who does comedy for a living gets away with something like that.
Which is why I was surprised by Jezebel’s post– How to Tell a Rape Joke.
Let’s get this out in the open right now– I think that it’s possible to tell a joke about any subject. Cancer, death, the Holocaust. It’s possible and I’ve seen it done, I’ve laughed at those jokes while thinking “that’s terrible, don’t ever repeat it!” But I did laugh. I recognized the humor and I recognized the schism between the humor and the outrage. (After September 11, when we were all broken, all asking ourselves, why, how could this happen, Papa read that Bin Laden had multiple wives and said “oh, well, that certainly clarifies everything.”)
But back to Jezebel. The post makes many excellent, excellent points and it’s worth reading.
But I take issue with the examples of rape jokes told well that it provides. Particularly Louis CK:
I’m not condoning rape, obviously—you should never rape anyone. Unless you have a reason, like if you want to fuck somebody and they won’t let you.
Did you giggle at his joke?
No shame: Did you think his joke was funny?
I think if I weren’t a woman, I may have. Because yes! No reason to steal that purse, no reason to commit a crime, unless you really, really like the purse and your credit card is maxed out. It’s a tough economy out there, people. Doesn’t mean we don’t want stuff.
He’s talking about something that we used to call date rape and it took a hell of a long time for it to be recognized as rape, without the quote marks.
And I find Jezebel’s analysis of why the joke is funny bullshit: “…it’s easy to give him the benefit of the doubt that this joke is making fun of rapists—specifically the absurd and horrific sense of entitlement that accompanies taking over someone else’s body like you’re hungry and it’s a delicious hoagie. The point is, only a fucking psychopath would think like that, and the simplicity of the joke lays that bare.”
I’m not so sure.
And I’m concerned that when certain audience members are laughing to this joke it’s in the “dude, I’ve so been there” sense of recognition. Because the recognition is what makes it funny, not the fact that there are psychopaths our there that think like that.
I don’t know. Maybe I’m oversensitive. I’ll check back with you once I get my period.
One year ago ...
- FYI - 2011