Running head: RAPE HUMOR: WHY IT’S NOT “JUST A JOKE”
RAPE HUMOR: WHY IT’S NOT “JUST A JOKE”
Rape Humor: Why it’s not “Just a joke”
Carmen I. Hardy
University Of North Carolina Asheville
Rape Humor: Why it’s not “Just a Joke”
While it is easy to view rape humor as wholly acceptable or wholly wrong, it is actually very complex. This “black or white” outlook encourages wagging your finger at anyone who says the word “rape” in any context other than disgust. However, rape jokes can, in fact, work well as a form of satire for many adult audiences, depending on the context, the punch line, and whether the jokes contain any humor. While there may not be a universal line that defines which rape-jokes cross from social satire to violent speech (i.e. speech that can cause real harm to listeners by causing trauma, recalling past trauma, or generally making them feel less safe), those who write or perform comedy should constructively use their positions as significant contributors to our culture. There is a monumental difference between laughing at the act of sexual assault which encourages an apathetic attitude toward rape and even perpetuates sexual violence and satirizing the things that perpetuate it, such as sexism or our rape culture. In other words, we should ridicule our twisted rape culture, not rape victims. We should consider what makes these jokes appealing to others and why. (As someone who has been raped not once, but twice) I know personally the act of rape is not funny, and there is never a reason to laugh at it.
Daniel Tosh, a comedian and television show host got a lot of controversy after speaking in 2012 at The Laugh Factory in Hollywood one night. Stated in a blog by the name of Jezebel two women were at this show that night and when Tosh took the stage things got awkward; “He quickly fell into his rape groove, telling joke after joke about rape, followed by the observation that rape jokes are always funny.” The said audience member yelled out “Actually rape jokes are never funny!” (Ryan) most likely not expecting any reaction to her comment. “After I called out to him, Tosh paused for a moment. Then, he said, "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…". (Ryan). Completely stunned and humiliated the audience member left. Tosh went on to send out an apology for the “out of context statements.”, followed by a tweet explaining that even bad things in the world can be joked about. (Ryan). The controversy around Tosh was really part of a much large conversation. Many comedians defended Tosh on Twitter following his show that evening, Jim Norton, a comedian like Tosh responded; "Some attention-seeking woman heckled a comedian, so if anything, she owes him an apology for being a rude brat" (Corneau). If you take note to who exactly defended Tosh, comedians such as Norton, Dane Cook, Anthony Jeselnik and Patton Oswald; it becomes clear that they were all...