Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Oh, sorry privileged white dude, your rape jokes are SO funny.

I'm just going to put myself out there and declare something: I hate comedy. I really, really hate comedy. A prime example of why I dislike the medium of comedy, particularly stand up comedy, is this Daniel Tosh man. I've never seen Daniel Tosh's comedy or show and so I didn't really know much about him until I heard about his "controversial" rape joke.

Apparently as he was making a point during one of his shows that "there are awful things in the world but you can still make jokes about them.” This "awful" thing that he was talking about was rape. He was "heckled" by a woman who shouted out "actually, rape jokes are never funny." But instead of just being like "well, hey lady, I think it's funny" Daniel Tosh told the audience this sparkling gem of comedic wit:

"“Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her? ... ”

First of all, she probably wasn't a "girl." But, wouldn't it be HILARIOUS if we lived in a world where women actually faced sexual and physical violence as a threat every single day? Or were threatened with rape for speaking their mind? Oh my god, funniest world ever.

Oh wait, we DO live in that world.  This is what I don't like about comedy: just because one privileged white guy who has never had to experience sexual threats thinks that rape jokes are funny, that means noone is allowed to disagree because its COMEDY. If you disagree you just have no sense of humour, and it's comedy after all so  nothing is off limits! It's okay for men to call women bitches and sluts, and joke about how horrible women make their lives and how much they'd just loooove to shut them up permanently because they're making light of the tensions in male/female relationships. Get it? It's comedy! If Daniel Tosh thinks rape jokes are funny, that's fine. But he crossed a line when he moved into "just joking" about rape to saying it would be funny for a woman in his audience to be "gang raped, by like 5 guys" at that very moment.

Women all over the world face obstacles to speaking their minds and living their lives freely, and one of the greatest threats to our freedom is sexual violence. Guess what, Daniel Tosh, we can't even go to University without having to worry about some man raping us in the library or grabbing us in broad daylight. Women who are citizens of war torn nations, or of nations experiencing political upheaval, are always in danger of being sexually assaulted, of being gang raped. If you speak out against your government, you're not just going to be jailed, you're going to be raped.

After the G20 in Toronto, female journalists told stories of police officers telling them that they would be raped in custody. A female gamer, who exposed the true identity of the creator of a domestic violence video game, was sent repeated threats that she would be raped and killed. It might seem funny and novel to someone like Daniel Tosh, but it's neither funny nor is it novel because it is extremely common.

During the much lauded "Arab Spring" women were sexually assaulted in the crowds of protesters, including female journalists. After female journalists came forward about being brutally assaulted many headlines questioned why women would be journalists at all, when rape was a constant possibility.  Sexual violence is a threat that keeps women from being able to freely pursue their dreams and goals. It is a very real, and every day threat.

Being heckled is part of a comedian's job, it's the gauntlet they have to run to be taken seriously. Responding to a heckler in this way is just totally ridiculous. You would never see a male comedian respond to a male heckled with a rape threat. It's not in our collective unconscious or part of our cultural lexicon that men are there for raping. It becomes not about comedy, it's not about what's "Taboo" to joke about anymore, it's a rich white dude saying it would be funny for a woman to get raped by 5 men. That's not funny and if that's comedy, then comedians should be embarassed.

Because it would be SO funny if 5 men in the audience gang raped that woman. If they held her down, beat her up a bit, and each took turns sexually violating her body, while she screamed and kicked, pleading for her release.  What a fucking hilarious joke. Bravo, comedy. Bravo.

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