Feel-good better story of the day: Guy learns that rape jokes aren’t funny

After a University of North Dakota paper had an article for the school online magazine titled, “One Night Stand: The Method,” which was a very poor attempt at a satire of how to get a girl drunk and rape her, author Josh Brorby wrote a pretty serious apology and response to the outrage it ensued:

I was wrong to think that humor could be used to look at a problem that is so visceral and prevalent in universities. In the article – no matter how each individual received it – I did not take into account the fact that many women have dealt with situations incredibly similar to the one I presented. I did not consider that in writing a satirical piece on such a personal issue, I was taking my position as a man for granted, ignoring the fact that such humorous overtones allow men who may think like the satirical character created to feel okay with their behavior, or to joke about deep sexual issues. The approach I took (I now know) did not address the issue in a way that could help; it only propagated the intense and still-existent rape/predatory culture that pervades our society.

Brorby then gives the message that he really intended to in the first place and calls for the men of the University to educate themselves about the prevalence of rape on college campuses.

Yes, this is just one story out of many we find daily that perpetuate rape culture – but when one individual is able to truly recognize it, be accountable and renounce it in this way, well, that’s something that I find refreshing, and wanted to share. My fellow Tweeters said it well, “This is what a real apology looks like.”

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16 Comments

  1. Wonderwall
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    I don’t think he learned that rape jokes aren’t funny…I think he was trying to use a common story about one night stands to illustrate how the common idea of getting a girl drunk to have a one night stand with is rape. He tried and failed, but I think it was an honest mistake. (Note to Josh…if you are trying to call out this common behavior as the rape that it is…use the word rape. It helps get the point across.)
    And his apology is extremely sincere. He doesn’t just say “Oh…sorry….rape is bad.” and call it a day. From what he wrote, he actually understands more than just the basic concepts of rape. He obviously still has lots of learning to do with the first example of writing, but he is sincere and that goes a long, long way in my book.

  2. gadgetgal
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    I agree – he took the criticism on board, learned from it, and he strikes me as being very sincere. Well done to him!

  3. Teresa
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    I think that subjects like rape and sexual assault are hard to put into a satirical context because its such a complex issue. I think that the fact he made an attempt to make the connection between planning to get a girl wasted and have sex with her and rape is something to admire, but he definately failed in more ways than one.
    With that said, at least he can take the responses he received and, instead of taking the defensive and ignoring what the readers comments were, he chose to listen and understand their viewpoint. Many people cannot do that. Many people also cannot admit when they’re wrong. So I definately commend him for his apology, and I definately urge him to keep trying to find a way to get his point across.

  4. What's the story?
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    As an editor of a university newspaper, I’m surprised this even got ran. We would have cut this story faster than anything.
    Good for the writer realizing what he wrote wasn’t funny; shame, shame, shame for the editors letting this get by.

  5. Toongrrl
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Well, he admitted he was
    wrong.

  6. kandela
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    I don’t think you can actually describe satire as a joke. The idea with satire is to gradually build into describing a situation so absurd, that those who had been reading at the beginning agreeing with the article’s point of view, can’t sustain that agreement any longer and realises the error of supporting that position at all.
    Satire is not a joke, it is a method of political debate. A serious difficulty with trying to apply satire to disavow rape is that the absurd is too normal in our society. A large number of readers are still going to be agreeing with the article’s point of view when they get to the end of it. Situations that are rape just appear to reasonable to them.
    You could argue that satire always has this problem to some extent – some people actually thought Swift was serious when he suggested eating babies! Perhaps it is a matter of what proportion of people respond in the desired way to the satire, and what proportion completely misunderstand. In any case, it is clear that, unless you are a writer at least as talented as Thomas Swift, you should never attempt satire on an issue that it can be harmful/hurtful just to discuss.

  7. kandela
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    I don’t think you can actually describe satire as a joke. The idea with satire is to gradually build into describing a situation so absurd, that those who had been reading at the beginning agreeing with the article’s point of view, can’t sustain that agreement any longer and realises the error of supporting that position at all.
    Satire is not a joke, it is a method of political debate. A serious difficulty with trying to apply satire to disavow rape is that the absurd is too normal in our society. A large number of readers are still going to be agreeing with the article’s point of view when they get to the end of it. Situations that are rape just appear to reasonable to them.
    You could argue that satire always has this problem to some extent – some people actually thought Swift was serious when he suggested eating babies! Perhaps it is a matter of what proportion of people respond in the desired way to the satire, and what proportion completely misunderstand. In any case, it is clear that, unless you are a writer at least as talented as Thomas Swift, you should never attempt satire on an issue that it can be harmful/hurtful just to discuss.

  8. kandela
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think you can actually describe satire as a joke. The idea with satire is to gradually build into describing a situation so absurd, that those who had been reading at the beginning agreeing with the article’s point of view, can’t sustain that agreement any longer and realises the error of supporting that position at all.
    Satire is not a joke, it is a method of political debate. A serious difficulty with trying to apply satire to disavow rape is that the absurd is too normal in our society. A large number of readers are still going to be agreeing with the article’s point of view when they get to the end of it. Situations that are rape just appear to reasonable to them.
    You could argue that satire always has this problem to some extent – some people actually thought Swift was serious when he suggested eating babies! Perhaps it is a matter of what proportion of people respond in the desired way to the satire, and what proportion completely misunderstand. In any case, it is clear that, unless you are a writer at least as talented as Thomas Swift, you should never attempt satire on an issue that can be harmful/hurtful just to discuss.

  9. ATorres
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s important to note that he was responding to a very non-satirical article by a woman titled “Get Busy: The anatomy of the one night stand.” This article presents a very limiting and regressive view of masculinity and femininty. She says, “Try circling your prey, making sure that she sees you and how desirable you are.” I am not saying that what Mr. Brobry wrote was acceptable-clearly is was a failed attempt at satire, but he was responding to an article that he obviously found insulting and limiting to women and men…which I would agree with. I think it is fantastic that he has taken it upon himself to apologize for his role in all this and particularly the impact on survivors of sexual violence, but I think we should also be critical and vocal about the original article which in many ways is just as offensive.

  10. Chelsa
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    I may get jumped on for this, but I thought the satire was spot-on. I think he did it well.
    And I say this as a survivor of the exact situation used in the piece.
    To be clear, I’m not trying to say that my reaction is the right reaction, or because I’m a survior and wasn’t triggered, that it’s ridiculous that anyone else was.
    I just think, if I were to write this piece, it wouldn’t sound much different. So, I don’t think it really has anything to do with the author taking his “position as a man” for granted… maybe just more along the lines of not considering the target audience as well as he should?

  11. Unequivocal
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Beautifully said.

  12. wowcabbage
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    This is actually my university, and I am a news writer for the paper in question.
    Man, I was so surprised when I read that. The Dakota Student has some sketchy contributions from time to time, but Brorby’s article was really unexpected to me.
    There was a lot of hullabaloo over it, and people got really angry – men are allowed to have a one-night stand article! Women are overreacting!
    We actually had a few responses printed about the article, one of which was directly addressing rape culture: http://media.www.dakotastudent.com/media/storage/paper970/news/2009/12/08/Opinion/Recognize.And.Address.Rape.Culture-3847717.shtml?reffeature=recentlycommentedstoriestab
    I was really impressed with Brorby’s response. I am actually kinda thrilled that this showed up on Feministing, and I’m going to email this post to him to show that his apology was appreciated, and it really does help.

  13. kandela
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Thank you.

  14. Floyd_Fino
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps some people arn’t too familiar with the definition of satire. In fact if you actually read the last couple of lines in his article it actually makes a lot sense. Granted it takes a certain level of intelligence to comphrehend satire, which obviously some people clearly lack.

  15. johninbuffalo
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    When reading the article, it felt like satire to me, but I could definitely see how people could take it seriously. Anyway, I sympathize with the writer. As a young writer who aspires to be a comedian, I know what it’s like to think you’re on to something clever, and be told you just weren’t funny. It’s never easy, and I applaud him for giving a sincere well-thought out apology, as well as for acknowledging the problems of race culture. That was very mature on his part.

  16. Spyhop
    Posted December 17, 2009 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    I think the problem with writing satire on this topic is similar to the “Poe” problem of writing satire on religious extremism- it’s almost not possible to write something so extreme that you can’t find someone who would seriously agree with you, which can result in what you intended as satire actually giving people even crazier ideas, or encouraging people who actually hold beliefs that you consider so ridiculous you thought they could only exist in satire.

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