On Making Rape Jokes

Feature image by Jim Cooke

by Lindy West

Hello, precious flowers. I know it’s been a difficult couple days for all of us, what with certain people interrupting certain other people (so rude!) and certain other people suggesting that said interruptors deserve to be hilariously gang-raped (so edgy!). In case you’re not caught up: comedian Daniel Tosh made some rape jokes at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood, a female audience member informed him that “rape jokes are never funny,” in retribution Tosh said it would be hilarious if she were gang-raped right there in the club, then Twitter went fucking nuts. If you want more information, just google “UUUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH” and click on whatever.

At this point, the conversation has devolved into two polarized camps: outraged feminists arguing that “rape jokes are never funny,” and defensive comics wailing about how the “thought police” is “silencing” them. (The owner of the Laugh Factory disputes the account, explaining that Tosh made a rape “comment” and not a rape “joke,” but that’s pretty much irrelevant to the larger point here.) Here’s the problem: everybody is wrong. I actually agree with Daniel Tosh’s sentiment in his shitty back-pedaling tweet (“The point I was making before I was heckled is there are awful things in the world but you can still make jokes about them #deadbabies”). The world is full of terrible things, including rape, and it is okay to joke about them. But the best comics use their art to call bullshit on those terrible parts of life and make them better, not worse. The key—unless you want to be called a garbage-flavored dick on the internet by me and other humans with souls and brains—is to be a responsible person when you construct your jokes. Since the nuances of personal responsibility seem to escape so many people, let’s go through it. Let’s figure out rape jokes.

Male comics: this is not an issue of your oppression. You guys know that “thought police” isn’t a real thing, right? (I mean, not anymore—it was the first thing to go in the recession.) At no point in time will some shimmery grandpa-of-the-future say, ‎”When I was your age, Timmy, we had these things called ‘jokes.’ But then they came for our rape humor and our racism, so comedy died and chuckles were abolished.” I’m pretty sure there are a couple of jokes out there that don’t involve a lady getting raped. Like 100 at least! Hooray, comedy is saved! Nobody is taking away your right to talk about rape, make jokes about rape, or use the word “rape.” No cunty feminist killjoy is citizen’s-arresting you and taking you to brain jail for your shitty rape joke.

It’s unlikely but, say, after all this public outrage, Daniel Tosh actually does get fired from Comedy Central. A person being removed from a position of power at a private company (Comedy Central is not the U.S. government, FYI) after the public speaks up is not an affront to freedom—it is integral to freedom. If you make things that people do not like, people might stop buying your product. That’s the deal.

In case this isn’t perfectly clear yet: You can say whatever you want.

You can say whatever you want. You can say whatever you want. You can say whatever you want.

You can say whatever you want.

That said, a comedy club is not some sacred space. It’s a guy with a microphone standing on a stage that’s only one foot above the ground. And the flip-side of that awesome microphone power you have—wow, you can seriously say whatever you want!—is that audiences get to react to your words however we want. The defensive refrains currently echoing around the internet are, “You just don’t get it—comedians need freedomThat’s how comedy gets madeIf you don’t want to be offendedthen stay out of comedy clubs.” (Search for “comedians,” “freedom,” “offended,” and “comedy clubs” on Twitter if you don’t believe me.) You’re exactly right. That is how comedy gets made. So CONSIDER THIS YOUR FUCKING FEEDBACK. Ninety percent of your rape material is not working, and you can tell it’s not working because your audience is telling you that they hate those jokes. This is the feedback you asked for.

If people don’t want to be offended, they shouldn’t go to comedy clubs? Maybe. But if you don’t want people to react to your jokes, you shouldn’t get on stage and tell your jokes to people.

This fetishization of not censoring yourself, of being an “equal-opportunity offender,” is bizarre and bad for comedy. When did “not censoring yourself” become a good thing? We censor ourselves all the time, because we are not entitled, sociopathic fucks. Your girlfriend is censoring herself when she says she’s okay with you playing Xbox all day. In a way, comedy is censoring yourself—comedy is picking the right words to say to make people laugh. A comic who doesn’t censor himself is just a dude yelling. And being an “equal opportunity offender”—as in, “It’s okay, because Daniel Tosh makes fun of ALL people: women, men, AIDS victims, dead babies, gay guys, blah blah blah”—falls apart when you remember (as so many of us are forced to all the time) that all people are not in equal positions of power. “Oh, don’t worry—I punch everyone in the face! People, baby ducks, a lion, this Easter Island statue, the ocean…” Okay, well that baby duck is dead now. And you’re a duck-murderer. It’s really easy to believe that “nothing is sacred” when the sanctity of your body and your freedom are never legitimately threatened.

According to the CDC, one in four female college students report that they’ve been sexually assaulted (and when you consider how many rapes go unreported, because of the way we shame victims and trivialize rape, the actual number is almost certainly much higher). That means that if you’re a comic performing to a reasonably full room, there’s a pretty good chance that at least one person in the audience has been sexually assaulted. If you didn’t know that, fine, now you do. Congrats. So when you make a joke in that room that trivializes rape or mocks rape victims, you are deliberately (because now you know!) harming those people. On purpose. Not because you’re a rapist—you’re probably not—but because you’re selfish and amateurish and lazy and scared.

The reason that “rape jokes” become such a contentious issue as opposed to, say, “cancer jokes” or “dead baby jokes” (yawn) is because rape is different from other horrors in some very specific ways.

Say you knew for a fact that in any given audience there was at least one person who had been mangled in an industrial threshing accident—JUST STICK WITH ME HERE—and that we lived in a culture where industrial threshing victims were routinely blamed/shamed for their own death and/or disfigurement because they wore the “wrong” overalls, and people were afraid to report threshing accidents because the police department just employs a bunch of threshing machines in badges and little hats anyway (and everyone knows threshing machines protect their own), and historically humans were sold into marriages with threshing machines where they could just be tossed in there and chopped up willy-nilly. Oh, and also 90% of the comics in the show (yourself included) are threshing machines too, but since you’re this young, liberal brand of threshing machine with newfangled safety guards and you fervently don’t believe in mangling humans, you think it’s fair game for you to make “jokes” about idiot humans getting their faces and limbs shredded by those more sinister other threshing machines. But do you really think that isn’t going to traumatize the fuck out of some humans? Even if you’re “joking”? If you care so much about humans not getting threshed to death, then wouldn’t you rather just stick with, I don’t know, your new material on barley chaff (hey, learn to drive, barley chaff!)?

Part of progress is constantly reevaluating yourself and owning up to your shit. Here, I’ll start. I made a rape joke once and I genuinely regret it. Two years ago, in my review of Sex and the City 2, I wrote:

SATC2 takes everything that I hold dear as a woman and as a human—working hard, contributing to society, not being an entitled cunt like it’s my job—and rapes it to death with a stiletto that costs more than my car.

I chose “rape” on purpose at the time—because it’s gendered and jarring and I wanted to convey the severity of my disgust, as a woman, with that fucking garbage movie. But if I wrote that review today, would I write it the same way? Nope. I would probably write “bludgeoned.” Because right now, as I see it, there is no systematic cultural influence that leads to the mass bludgeoning of people. I would not be contributing to a culture of bludgeoning. I, Lindy West, am sorry.

So, comics. This doesn’t mean that everyone is obligated to be the savior of mankind. You can be edgy and creepy and offensive and trivial and, yes, you can talk about rape. Doing comedy in front of a silent room is scary, and shocking people is a really easy way to get a reaction. But if you want people to not hate you (and wanting to not be hated is not the same thing as wanting to be liked), you should probably try and do it in a responsible, thoughtful way. Easy shortcut: DO NOT MAKE RAPE VICTIMS THE BUTT OF THE JOKE.

Here are four “rape jokes” that, in my opinion, work:

1. Borat

“In Kazakhstan the favorite hobbies are disco dancing, archery, rape, and table tennis.”

Okay. Why is that funny? Who is the butt of the joke? Rape victims? Nah, I’d say that the butt of that joke is Kazakhstan, or, at least, the caricature of Kazakhstan that Sasha Baron Cohen has constructed—a borderline-medieval old world racist mud-hole. He’s satirizing the casual misogyny of a certain set of crusty old anti-Semitic post-Soviet eastern European men in stinky suits. And I have no problem with that. Though I could be wrong! Again: no such thing as joke police! Culture evolves! Hooray! (This joke is almost certainly offensive to Kazakhs, but someone else can be in charge of the anti-Kazakh-joke manifesto.)

[Update: As several smart people have pointed out, I missed something obvious in my reading here. The point of Borat is that he gives people the opportunity to expose their own prejudices—the fact that anyone is willing to take this character seriously is extremely telling. Duh.]


2. Louis CK

“I’m not condoning rape, obviously—you should never rape anyone. Unless you have a reason, like if you want to fuck somebody and they won’t let you.”

Here’s why this joke doesn’t make me feel like shit: Louis CK has spent 20 years making it very publicly clear that he is on the side of making things better. The oppressors never win at the end of his jokes. That’s why it’s easy to give him the benefit of the doubt that this joke is making fun of rapists—specifically the absurd and horrific sense of entitlement that accompanies taking over someone else’s body like you’re hungry and it’s a delicious hoagie. The point is, only a fucking psychopath would think like that, and the simplicity of the joke lays that bare. That said, Louis CK is possibly the greatest comic in the world, but that does not mean that he is always right. I think even Louis CK would tell you that. And I guarantee you he puts himself and his audience through at least this level of scrutiny on every joke. That’s why the jokes are good.


3. John Mulaney

SEE THE VIDEO HERE

“Late at night, on the street, women will see me as a threat. That is funny—yeah! That isfunny. It’s kind of flattering in its own way, but at the same time it’s weird because, like, I’m still afraid of being kidnapped.”

Comedians are just people telling stories about the world, and it is okay to laugh at horror and talk candidly about ugliness. This is one of the best “rape jokes” ever, because it’s an honest commentary on our fucked-up cultural climate. The butt of the joke is John Mulaney. The woman running away from John Mulaney is not being mocked. This is a joke about how scary it is to be a woman and how easy it is for men to be oblivious. This joke is helpful.


4. Ever Mainard

“The problem is that every woman in her entire life has that one moment when you think, ‘Oh! Here’s my rape!'”

Pretty simple: This isn’t a joke about women getting raped—it’s a joke about the way that rape culture, which includes rape jokes,makes women feel. It’s like the difference between a black comic telling a joke about how it feels to have white people treat you like you’re stupid all the time vs. a white comic telling a joke about how stupid black people are.


So there you go. See? Nobody is saying that you can’t talk about rape. Just be a fucking decent person about it or relinquish the moral high ground and be okay with making the world worse.

I’m not a comic, but I’ve done comedy (and told jokes I regret), I’ve lived with comics, I’ve dated comics, I write jokes for a living, and I’ve had both transcendent and crushing experiences in comedy clubs. I’m not saying all of this because I hate comedy—I’m saying it because I love comedy and I want comedy to be accessible to everyone. And right now, comedy as a whole is overtly hostile toward women. I remember the (brief) vicarious thrill I felt the first time I saw Anthony Jeselnik say abusive things with shameless cheer, and I was an Adam Carolla and Howard Stern apologist for years. I get it. But I’m a grown-up now, I’m slightly sheepish about my younger self, and I’d wager that in 15 years most of the rape-joke apologists will be embarrassed that this conversation even happened.

Originally published on Jezebel. Republished WITH PERMISSION MOTHERF*CKERS.

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54 Comments

  1. Thumb up 7

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    This article makes me feel all of the shitty feels, especially when it used like THE MOST RACIST MOVIE EVER to prove a point.
    Rape jokes are never effing okay. I’m very disappointed in all of you.

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      Yeah, I agree. Rape jokes, especially those made by dudes, especially by straight dudes are not even a little bit okay. I get that jezebel posted the article originally, but I come to AS because I don’t want to read Jezebel, I want to read something more thoughtful.

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      i don’t understand the point of these comments. if the article turns you off, lets talk about that. talk about the points being made by lindy west. attacking autostraddle’s choice to republish an essay that addresses a loaded complicated topic seems beside the point. i’m glad it’s here so we can talk about it amongst ourselves. i liked this, i also thought of wanda sykes’ joke about the detachable vagina.

  2. Thumb up 0

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    Dear Tosh,
    Firstly, you’re a fucktard! But mostly, the real humor in all of this is that because you’re a fucktard who just doesn’t get that he’s a fucktard, you’re poor judgement and lack of remorse will likely result in you metaphorically being bent over your microphone and screwed with your pants on.

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    I think Daniel Tosh needs to learn how to handle someone interrupting his show in a better fashion. Maybe he needs a comedy mentor like Zach Galifianakis or David Cross to show him the hilarious way.

    There are very few jokes in the world that are a tough topic to broach and rape is pretty much at the top of the list. I think dead babies have transcended this list because the majority of the time, I don’t imagine a real life baby going through a horrible dead baby joke. I imagine some imaginary/cartoon baby that is not real. There in lies the rub. If you are going to make a horrible, tasteless joke, there is a requirement to separate the audience from the reality of what you are saying versus the joke itself. I just don’t think that many comedians are capable of that.

    Maybe Tig Notaro…and even then, I doubt she would stoop to a Daniel Tosh level of rape jokes.

    Also, in 20 years, when Daniel Tosh has to start saying outrageous things for attention like Adam Corrolla has resorted to lately? Just remember that he’s an immature man-boy that had to rely on internet videos and tasteless rape jokes to be funny.

  4. Thumb up 9

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    ‘Like’ isn’t the right word, obviously, but I found this article really interesting and I’m glad it was posted.

    Given that 99.99% of rape jokes are horrible, victim-blaming bullshit, “rape jokes are never funny” is a good blanket rule and it serves an important purpose. But in a conversation more advanced than Feminism/Rape Culture 101 I think there’s a lot of value in looking deeper and addressing the nuances where comedy and society interact. Lazy comedy uses rape jokes (cancer jokes, paedophilia jokes, whatever else Frankie Boyle’s done lately) as a way to be ‘shocking’ and ‘edgy’ while perpetuating everything that’s wrong with society and is fucking hateful. Great comedy uses humour to address and critique the shittier aspects of society/life so we can see them for what they are, often in a way we’d never thought of before. Doing that to rapists and rape culture can be valuable and eye-opening and sometimes, yes, funny as hell.

    I feel like this discussion is a follow-on from “rape jokes are never funny” and can only happen based on the premise that of course jokes where rape victims/rape itself are the butt of the joke are never funny and never okay, which is a message society as a whole has unequivocally failed to get. So in general, yes, rape jokes are never okay. But jokes that skewer rapists and rape culture can be okay, and funny, and highlight some of the horror and absurdity of this world we live in in a way that might make people think, and I think that is worth acknowledging.

  5. Thumb up 5

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    Okay, I really liked this because, and maybe it’s just deranged asshats on tumblr, I have actually encountered a lot of people who think that rape jokes are NEVER okay and should NEVER be made. I’m not some monster who wants to constantly remind people who have been raped of what happened to them, but I do really believe that comedy is a great tool to explore dark things and push at societtally uncomfortable and fucked up topics.

  6. Thumb up 2

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    Thanks for this article. People don’t understand enought that you have to decode what the comedian is actually saying, the actual point they’re trying to get accross. The examples you included were funny, and some of the time, I think Tosh is funny, as well. But he has crossed a line here that no one ever should. Thanks for pointing out what is okay and not okay, and explaining WHY.

  7. Thumb up 4

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    Ugh. This article makes a point, I guess, but I just. Where is the empathy? This is why I’ve never found dead baby jokes funny, because I’ve actually seen dead babies and the intense, emotionally atomic fallout when one dies. I know that people who have come out the other side of that experience can have a warped sense of humor and maybe will make their own jokes, but I don’t think that entitles someone else to do so. So no, not so much. But then, I can only take comedy in small doses before it stops being funny and starts being just painful.

  8. Thumb up 10

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    You can say anything you want. Anything. That is the basis and core of freedom of speech, something that comedy cannot thrive without.

    The thing is though, and you’d have to be delusional not to realise this, other people don’t have an obligation to like what you say. They are perfectly at liberty to object to what you say or call you an asshole. If you have a problem with being thought of as an asshole, then don’t be an asshole.

    Of course you can joke about rape. You can joke about Nazis and the Rwanda genocide and racism too. There are actual nazis around after all, printing pamphlets about the Jewish world conspiracy and the myth of the gas chambers. If they’re allowed (as they should be) to spew their garbage around, what would make anyone moronic enough to cry censorship when the topic is a shitty joke that’s drawing criticism, or as this article rightly calls it, feedback. Freedom of speech is safe. But if you say whatever you like, be prepared to have the same courtesy extended in return. It’s not that you can’t joke about rape. You just kind of have to be really clever about it. Otherwise I’m going to use my freedom of speech and call you what you are. A fucking asshole.

  9. Thumb up 8

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    1. I’m glad this is posted because we can discuss it. I think we all have a lot of feelings that we want to process. Also, we AS posts about popular/controversial/heatseeking topics, it generates hits to the website therefore more ad revenue for a site we all love! So there’s that.

    2. I can understand the logic behind why a lot of those jokes are ok because they are drawing attention to/making commentary on the problem. Here’s the problem (and I say it in caps cause it’s important): THERE ARE MANY MANY PEOPLE TOO IGNORANT TO UNDERSTAND THE SATIRE! Their only take away is that rape is funny and maybe even therefore that rape is ok.

    Therein lies my problem with these jokes. That, and the fact that even 30 years later, my mother is still scarred by what happened to her and shouldn’t have to be reminded of that by anyone, ever.

  10. Thumb up 1

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    I have some feels about Louis CK, but I can see how other people may not have the same sensitivity I do… He’s kind of a grey area. I was watching season one of his show, and some of the jokes really crossed my personal line of comfort… and others of his jokes I found really funny, so there you go.

    Tosh, on the other hand – that was pretty clearly over the line – the joke itself, and the “handling” of the woman who spoke up to object. That wasn’t funny at all; it was just viciousness and threats. I’d have stood there and called 911, if I were her.

    I’m not one of those folks who believes that we should always sit quietly and listen to comedians if they say things that are really offensive, like what he said. Generally heckling – that’s pretty sucky to do, given than the rest of the audience paid money to see the comedian, not you. But once someone goes across some serious moral boundaries, like Tosh did… yeah, someone should speak up, just for the sake of civility.

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    I think one of the best ways to elicit empathy is through a role reversal. So I hope you don’t get sent to prison anytime soon, Daniel Tosh, because you look like you’d make a good cell-block bitch!

  12. Thumb up 0

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    I am so in love with this article that I want to print off 3,000 copies of it and paper my walls with it. I want to wrap it up in a box and give it as a Christmas gift to everyone I know. I want to climb onto my roof with a megaphone and read it loudly to everyone repeatedly for twelve straight hours until everyone gets the message.

    Ahem. Anyway. Good…article.

  13. Thumb up 2

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    However, I will say — I would have omitted the “Borat” joke. I hate “Borat” to the point where it literally sets my teeth on edge to hear the movie title, because it is that disgusting. I also find the way Borat treats women and rape extremely damaging to OUR culture in addition to Kazakh culture. Dehumanizing women in any way, even if it’s just to poke fun at an outdated culture, does far more harm that is worth a second of funny. Personally, I don’t even laugh — because I when I hear that, I cringe and I see Kazakh rape victims. Yeah, I get it, it’s a joke. But I still see them and it still hurts as a woman and as a feminist.

  14. Thumb up 5

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    I don’t necessarily agree with the opinion that rape jokes are worse than other kinds of jokes about violence/abuse/whatever because it’s more likely that there will be victims of rape in the audience vs. other kinds of victims. I don’t think the criteria for “inappropriate” should be what percentage of the audience is likely to be triggered.

    The problem with (most) rape jokes and rape culture is that they trivialize and normalize rape, in a way that doesn’t really happen (or at least not as systematically) with other kinds of violence and abuse. And to a certain segment of the population, this makes rape seem like not a big deal, or something they can probably get away with, or maybe even something they’re entitled to do. This is why the “don’t go to the show if you don’t like the comedian” defense falls flat – frankly, it’s not the people getting offended I’m worried about, it’s the ones who aren’t.

  15. Thumb up 1

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    I’ve heard maybe 1.5 funny treatments of rape (I kind of cringe at the term “rape joke”). One of them was Wanda Sykes’ detachable vagina routine, where she wonders what life would be like if she could just remove her vagina. She could run at night without fear of sexual assault, etc. That worked for me because it was about how rape is a danger that women legit face *all the time* and wouldn’t it be great if it weren’t?

    The 0.5 is some nebulous concept I can’t remember, but which didn’t make me puff up with rage.

  16. Thumb up 4

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    I don’t get offended by jokes ever, but rape jokes I can’t appreciate in the slightest. Not even a tiny little amount.
    There’s plenty of actual funny things in the world, I don’t understand why people need to try and turn something as horrific as rape into something humorous.

  17. Thumb up 3

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    So, a few things:

    Besides the John Mulaney clip, I didn’t find any of these so-called acceptable rape jokes funny. I agree that comedians can treat rape comedically if it is sensitive and absolutely clear that the joke is on rape culture/sexism/slut-shaming and NOT on rape victims, but the Louis CK and Borat clips seem to trivialize rape (and no, I don’t think the fact that the victim is Hitler makes it all right)

    Also, like others have mentioned, Borat is straight-up racist. It’s openly mocking a culture and insinuating that rape is somehow more prevalent in Kazakhstan than it is here (something I actually doubt) because they are so much “less civilized.” So um no, I don’t think that clip is a good showcase of oh-so-funny rape jokes.

    And finally, Lindy West’s writing style is just not funny. It’s too blunt and goes for shock value rather than providing meaningful analysis of the topic at hand. I stopped reading Jezebel a while ago, and reading this article has further convinced me that it’s not where I want to go to get my daily dose of news and pop culture. I’d much rather have seen an Autostraddle writer cover this topic, because reading this just left a bad taste in my mouth.

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      This remains my favorite of all the responses. The fact that it was written by a man kind of blew my mind, too — the feeling that he *gets* it kept surprising me, since most of the male voices in these discussions tend to be of the “quit whining” or “yeah, but” variety.

  18. Thumb up 2

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    Wow this was a very interesting. I’m sorry that a lot of people didn’t like it, but I think it laid out a very good counter against rape jokes, which I think is definitely valuable. I realize that not everyone believes in comedy the way that other people do, and I realize that some people believe some things shouldn’t be joked about, and I completely respect that. For those who look to comedy as a tool, or a change in perception for an issue, i think this is a good article though.

  19. Thumb up 2

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    One of my friends was raped by a forty-year-old man when she was eleven years old. As a result, she developed an extreme case of anorexia, which lasted seven years, and tried to commit suicide five times.

    I personally never find rape jokes funny.

  20. Thumb up 0

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    Benny Hill once said, “A woman was standing on the corner yelling, “Grape! Grape!” A policeman ran up and said, “Don’t you mean, ‘Rape? Rape?” The woman said, “No, there was a bunch of them.”
    Now dumb as the joke is, I tell it here to make a point. The joke resnot on making light on the act of rape, but on a play on words, i.e., the similarity between the words rape and grape.
    Is this still offensive? Just curious.

  21. Thumb up 1

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    Also it’s pretty damn funny that you guys would talk about deconstructing jokes and analysing them, then naively claiming Borat pokes fun at Kazakh culture. no it doesn’t. like any of his movies, it pokes fun at Muslims & Arabs in their entirety. it demonizes them, makes them look antisemitic and misogynistic ON PURPOSE. no it isn’t about making the viewer examine their own prejudice, it’s about capitalizing on current anti Arab/Muslim sentiment.
    like how clueless are you.

  22. Thumb up 2

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    “You NEED a man to survive!! unless he is following you at NIIIIIIIGHT!! then you will DIIIIIIIIEE!!” I saw the world’s smallest flow chart in my head when i heard that

  23. Thumb up 0

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    I think the main problem for these male comedians is PORN. Porn -in its developing manner- is making rape acceptable and degrading women. Thus unconsciously, rape will become something ordinary even with the best intents.
    So cracking jokes about it will become easy and acceptable, not shocking. If you want to shock? joke about a Holocaust, that’ll teach you boundaries.

    here’s an extract from http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/sexandrelationships/porn.htm:

    What problems can porn cause?

    There are unfortunate consequences from the new, widespread availability of porn.

    1. The accessibility of porn to children

    There is an enormous amount of sexual material on the internet that should not be seen by children. Yet, as the Psychologies study clearly shows, youngsters can and do access it at the click of a mouse.

    If you have kids in your home, make sure any computer they use is fitted with a filter that prevents access to adult material.

    2. Availability of eccentric sexual material

    A quick web search will return sites that most people would find upsetting. They cover topics like incest, coprophilia (sex involving faeces) and zoophilia (sex with animals).

    Unless you are compiling a textbook of sexual psychopathology, these sites are best avoided.

    3. Availability of violent or cruel material

    There is a lot of porn on the net that glorifies violence, particularly against women. There have been suggestions that some of this could provoke men to harm their partners or commit rape.

    The British government is looking at ways to curb this sort of pornography.

    4. Availability of material involving children

    Sadly, it has become clear that a large number of men (and a few women) are fascinated by the idea of sex with minors.

    Much research is going on to find out if the availability of ‘kiddy-porn’ is increasing the incidence of paedophiliac behaviour. Stay away from anything that mentions the words ‘teen’ or ‘young’.

    5. Raising false expectations about sex and body image

    Erotic material tends to give men and women impossibly high ‘targets’ to aim for in the sexual field.

    Young men get the idea that they should have huge penises and be able to climax again and again, carrying on all night.
    Young women get misleading notions about what their bodies should look like. They don’t realise that the pictures of the models are heavily air-brushed so their bodies – and especially their vaginal openings – look impossibly neat and tidy.
    Some younger men are surprised by what most of us would regard as normal pubic hair. They have seen so much porn imagery where the women have little or no hair that they think this is the norm.
    Young men assume it is acceptable to ejaculate on their partner’s face or breasts. This sort of material is commonplace in porn, leading many men to think it’s routine behaviour in the bedroom.

    6. Exploitation of models and actors

    Visual pornography involves the use of real people. While some young men and women are more than happy to take part in erotic photo sessions or films, for others there may well be an element of exploitation.

    7. The tendency of the internet to encourage solitary sex

    There’s nothing wrong with a bit of solitary sex. When you are living on your own or are between relationships, masturbation is good.

    Sex therapists have also found it can help women with arousal difficulties or anorgasmia (inability to climax).

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    I’d like to start by saying that I support Tosh(I feel like I’m one of the few women that do.) That woman had no business interrupting his routine. The bottom line is that we all know that Tosh is brutal with his jokes. That woman paid money to see a show and interrupted it, possibly ruining it for the other audience members. I also feel that his way of dealing with the woman was not appropriate and he shoudln’t have half-assed his apology.

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      So, it was inappropriate to interrupt his routine because she felt threatened and uncomfortable? Or that she felt that what he was saying is morally wrong?

      Furthermore, you don’t think his response was problematic? What if she had been a rape survivor and he was sitting there saying it would be funny if she were gang-raped? What if there were a rape survivor in the audience? Even if this weren’t the case, there is nothing funny about telling someone they should have their bodies violated and their psyches damaged.

      Audience members are not obligated to be silent. In fact, most of them aren’t because they laugh or clap. If they are allowed and encouraged to show their approval, they are likewise perfectly free to express their disapproval and outrage.

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        Well put. As West points out, rape culture is damaging in a very specific and painful way. It’s not on the same plane as other jokes. There are a million funny things in the world that don’t target women in such a specific and cruel way. There was no reason for him to say anything of the kind.

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    “but there is no systematic cultural influence that leads to the mass bludgeoning of people.”

    damn. rape-ok culture is so messed up. and the worst is lots of women believe in it too. have you ever seen the inside of those shitty “romance” novels? it romanticizes rape!!! And it’s soo easy to see how from that view it is romantic! in a fucked up way tho! ooh, this handsome strong man is going to steal me away on his horse and rape me in his castle because thats just the way men show they love you! by saving you and showing you the time of your life!! wooo!

    It makes me fucking sick. those damn books and other things from the same perspective need to come with a detailed warning and explanation. young women are growing up with the idea that this is “what you want. This is how will act and how you should react.” when some pervert is up in your business making you uncomfortable, ooh.. sorry, so sorry! -fuck me over- is appropriate, because they are entitled to that kind of behavior. its rare when a young woman grows up with the automatic response of FUCK YOU! get out of my fucking way!- and yet thats exactly what we need to be teaching them. I still say sorry because i grew up with that mentality- I wish I could yell fuck you at the assholes who think it’s their right to oppress me. But still it’s hard.

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    I’ve come to accept that rape jokes are just another part of shock comedy. I don’t laugh at them, but I don’t get offended, either.

    Frankly, both parties are at fault here. Heckling isn’t feedback, it’s an unnecessary disruption that can potentially derail an entire night for both the comedian and the audience. That woman should have contacted Tosh after the show instead of being so disrespectful to everyone, and then playing the victim.

    On top of that, Tosh shouldn’t have made the joke personal. Comedians cross a line when they involve their audience, and more often than not, it’s a line that shouldn’t have been crossed. It’s all well and good for him to make off color jokes, because that’s his deal. That’s how he gets laughs. But no comedian has the right to single out a member of their audience and make them uncomfortable.

    So they’re both at fault. End of story.

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    All of this commentary is wonderful, but I also don’t understand why everyone’s talking about Tosh’s comment as if it were a joke, because “wouldn’t it be funny if you got raped by like five guys right now” isn’t a joke, it doesn’t have anything to it, it’s just a threat, and a common one – some racist douchebag I got dragged into an argument with at the weekend threatened me with as much, it wasn’t a joke, it was a deliberate, threatening comment designed to put me in my place and that’s exactly what happened here.

    I also think it’s pretty rich that Tosh and all of the comedians defending him want us all to calm down, not get our knickers in a twist, rape jokes are funny! But heckle someone and you cross the line, you offend the sacred art of comedy. What bullshit.

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