The Utter Disgrace of the Rape Joke

Meet a rape victim and tell me true: Is her situation funny?

Look into her eyes and see the anger, the pain, the fear that never goes away.  See her struggle to stay strong in the wake of the unspeakable.  See her fight with all she has to continue living anything close to a normal life, after her security and safety have been ripped away from her in a violent and humiliating act.

Is anyone laughing yet?

During a recent appearance at The Laugh Factory comedy club, Daniel Tosh–who I take it is some sort of web-based comic show host, can’t say I’m readily familiar with his work–was overheard openly defending the rape joke–saying in a nutshell that jokes about rape were always funny.  When an offended female audience member begged to differ, Tosh–according to an account related at Gawker.Com–had this to say:

“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…”

In my opinion, comics who tell jokes about rape are not only disgraceful and irresponsible–they’re desperate.  Speaking as a sometime humor writer myself, I know that my life and the pop culture and political marketplace in general give me more than enough fodder for humor; someone who resorts to using ‘shock humor’ to get a laugh is obviously not clever or resourceful enough to come up with original material, so they try to stun or startle the audience in an effort to get cheap laughs that they didn’t really earn.

Rarely, though, do they go so far as to say something that will make an audience member feel that she may be in danger; to make her uncomfortable or even afraid.  This is precisely what happened during Tosh’s show, according to the Gawker report.

“I, completely stunned and finding it hard to process what was happening but knowing i needed to get out of there, immediately nudged my friend, who was also completely stunned, and we high-tailed it out of there. It was humiliating, of course, especially as the audience guffawed in response to Tosh, their eyes following us as we made our way out of there. I didn’t hear the rest of what he said about me,” the report read.

Shame on you Mr. Tosh.

If Tosh finds rape so very humorous, I wonder how he would feel if he delivered the same routine to a group of men at a prison performance; and in response one of his audience members yelled out, “He’s right, rape is funny!  And wouldn’t it be especially funny if a group of us got together right now and raped him?”

And while Tosh has delivered the prerequisite ‘celebapology’ in the wake of his words (one delivered via Twitter, saying basically that he was misquoted but that he was sorry and that he was just trying to make the point that jokes can be even about awful things, etc.), I failed to feel any true sorrow or anguish emanating from his words.

When I look into the eyes of a rape survivor; now that’s when I see anguish.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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