Friday, July 13, 2012

It's Never Funny, and it's Never Okay


There’s been a bit of buzz that even I, in my largely disconnected hermit state, have picked up on, regarding an incident at a comedy club involving Daniel Tosh and a female audience member who dared speak up against a series of “jokes” about how rape was funny, how rape jokes were funny.

I’m really not sure I can write anything quite as biting as the Jezebel piece by Lindy West (“How to Tell a Rape Joke”), but I can’t sit here and not say anything, either.

So, I’ll say this: Fuck you, Daniel Tosh.

Rape isn’t funny. Sexual assault isn’t funny. Whatever joke or “comment” you made in the first place was likely in poor taste to begin with, but when a woman spoke up about it, you verbally attacked her AND told her it would be “hilarious” if she were gang-raped right then and there by “like, five guys.”

You, sir, are going straight to whatever Hell will take you.

There’s a petition over on Change.org that is asking for his show, Tosh.0, to be cancelled and removed from the air. They’re also asking for no reruns, no specials, no nothing. Will all of these things actually happen? I doubt it. Maybe they’ll cancel his show. Maybe they won’t. Depends on how bankable this controversy makes him. “There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” they used to say.

I would like to disagree, and I hope Daniel Tosh receives a tidal wave of backlash.

I get that comedians like to push buttons. I get that you make a living out of being offensive. I get that you’ve got it so hard, being a wealthy, young, good-looking Caucasian male – how dare people try to “censor” or “oppress” you!

It’s not censorship. It’s called being a decent human being. The same freedom of speech that allows you to be a raging asshole also allows us to be angry and call for your head (or, more specifically: your show) on a platter.

The problem is that when people speak up against rape jokes, they’re being “oversensitive” or “whiny feminists.” Because rape is something that primarily happens to women, it’s “our” problem. And that’s what happened to this poor woman. She stood up against the idea that rape is something that can be taken lightly – something that can be laughed about – and she was taunted and had a crowd turned on her. She had to leave due to fear of what might happen to her.

The fact that there are people defending Tosh is what is concerning me. Are we still playing the victim-blaming game? I know that people are really trigger-happy on calling foul play these days – everyone is offended by something. The blanket of political correctness that has been neatly tucked around this country bothers me to no end. You can’t say or do anything that won’t piss someone off, and more likely than not, whoever you piss off will probably try to sue you. People are oversensitive about a lot of things.

This, in my opinion, is a legitimate thing to be up in arms about.

Statistics say that one in four college-age women will be sexually assaulted at least once in her life. Those statistics are based on only what is reported. Do you know how many women suffer in silence, because they are afraid, or embarrassed, or simply don’t know who to turn to? Everyone knows that number is much, much higher. But women have been shamed into silence, made to believe it’s their fault, that they somehow deserved it.

Nobody, absolutely nobody, deserves to be so violently, intimately violated. Nobody.

There is nothing “sexy” about rape. It’s a hateful crime, violent and full of anger. It’s not just pretty girls in short skirts who get raped. It’s anyone. It could be your sister, your cousin, your girlfriend, your aunt, your mother. Rapists don’t care. They just want someone vulnerable. It’s not about sex, it’s about power.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve never been sexually assaulted. I live in a relatively safe area. But that doesn’t stop me from watching my back when I’m alone, for listening to every single sound for cues that something’s wrong. I calculate how far I have to go until I reach somewhere safe – would I be able to run that far if I had to? Maybe I shouldn’t have worn these shoes. These shoes put me at risk, they make me vulnerable. Why did I think it was a good idea to park so far away? I clutch my cellphone and my keys, and look both ways and behind me. Even when it’s daytime, but especially when it’s dark. The dark becomes a blanket of fear.

And I live in a relatively safe area.

There’s a special paranoia that comes along with being a female, especially a young one. Especially when you find yourself alone.

I’ve read countless articles and stories and books about and by rape and sexual assault victims. It’s a harrowing thing, a terrifying experience. In addition to the physical pain and abuse, there’s that mental cat-and-mouse game of wondering if your attacker will leave you alive at the end.

(If you’ve never read “Lucky” by Alice Sebold – who also wrote “The Lovely Bones” – you should. It’s a memoir about her own personal experience with being assaulted and raped when she was in college. It’s tragic and horrifying but I think everyone should read it.)

The type of man that jokes about sexual assault is just as bad as the type of man that would perpetrate such an act. By making it something that people laugh at, you’re making it something that people don’t take seriously. Read this, and tell me what about it is funny. It's just one story of thousands - millions - and each one is just as heart-wrenching.

You’re demeaning those who have suffered through it, survived it. You’re pissing on the graves of those who didn’t. You’re making it something to be mocked. You’re making it “okay.”

It’s not okay. It’s never okay.

You’re a scumbag, and you disgust me.

And that’s all the words I am going to waste on you. I hope the American public kindly shows you to the door. Your fifteen minutes, as far as I’m concerned, are over.

4 comments:

chimes said...

AGREED.

I don't think he will be kicked off CC and I don't know if I really think he SHOULD be kicked off CC in relation to something he did outside of their contract. However, I think that the point of the whole petition isn't so much to get THAT action taken, but for the world to know that he's a dick-flavored asshole and that hopefully the backlash and disinterest will be enough for him not only to lose his show but to lose his career. There's no way the ppl who did the petition actually think he'll get kicked off.

germana said...

I used to like Tosh.0, but I tried to watch this season and it is just horrible! He tries to hard to be outrageous and is just hurting himself by thinking he can say whatever the hell he wants. He can't, he's an ass. Sadly, he won't get booted from CC, and I doubt he'll do the right thing and apologize either.

Ashley, the Accidental Olympian said...

Ok, to play the other side, I like this take on it,

http://mightygirl.com/2012/07/12/is-rape-ever-funny/

terra said...

What makes me so mad about the whole thing is that the threat of rape was used, in this instance, to silence a woman. And that's a very, very dangerous thing.