Rape is an act of savage violence. That’s what it is. It is brutal. It is not about sex, it is about violence.

There is, at least for me, no humor in the subject. Have I ever been raped? No. However, in the 1980s I had the privilege of being on a 16-member steering committee that formed the New York City Chapter of Victims for Victims, then a non-profit group founded in 1982 by Theresa Saldana, an actress and, by the way, remarkable person on all fronts. The large majority of the steering committee was comprised of women who had been raped. Two of us had been shot. We all had one thing in common. We had all survived acts of violence, acts that you do not know you will survive when you are going through them. Living through a moment of any length in which it is not up to you whether you live or die is brutal.

It seems comedian Daniel Tosh and many others (primarily men) don’t understand this when it comes to rape. Tosh recently began telling an audience that rape jokes are funny, it should’ve come as no surprise that a female audience member shouted out, “Actually, rape jokes are never funny!” Tosh responded by saying, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, five guys right now? Like right now?”

While Tosh’s response is sickening, it is, sadly, not surprising. Women are still on the receiving end of a great deal of bigotry in this country and, when it comes to rape, many men simply don’t get it. It is violence, not sex. And, truth be fully told, it is a form of violence that is inflicted on children and men, not just women.

In a well-written piece for CNN, Julie Burton and Michelle Kinsey Bruns, brilliantly capture a chilling slice of  the culture’s all-too-common misogyny: “When women are told that they shouldn’t drink too much or walk alone at night or wear a revealing top, they are being given a guided tour of the boundaries of acceptable female conduct. Women are supposed to understand that these boundaries are policed by rapists. We cross the line at our own risk. And if we are caught, the brutal punishment is one we have earned.” Burton is president of the Women’s Media Center and Bruns its online manager.

Tosh’s apology on Twitter: “all the out of context misquotes aside, i’d like to sincerely apologize” is utterly lame. If Tosh is sincere in wanting to make amends, I would advise him to do at least two things: apologize in person to the woman he wounded with his remark, and reach out to the likes of Burton and Bruns so they can link him up to those who can really help him understand the savage act of violence called rape.

4 thoughts on “Rape

  1. 1.) You're judging Daniel Tosh's character based on the blog of one woman, who quotes a joke from memory. The comedy club owner remembers the joke differently, but apparently that isn't taken into account at all.2.) Freedom of speech.3.) Women can dress slutty and get hammered at bars just like I can go to Compton and walk around with wads of hundred dollar bills in my pocket. Both are extremely stupid, and anyone who really wants to believe all men are pure and will never be tempted to commit crime is naive.4.) Freedom of speech.5.) Comedians hate hecklers with a passion. That's common knowledge to anyone who enjoys stand-up. What was she expecting to happen when she heckled him? Did she expect him to say "I respect your opinion, and will stop with this routine"?6.) Freedom of speech.7.) The girl should have left when he had told the joke. Not heckle him and then stay the entire show and then complain to the club owner after the show was over.8.) Freedom of speech.

  2. You're pathetic… "all comments must be approved by author"?The only thing you stand for is censorship. Welcome to the United States, where everyone has the right to free speech. If you don't like it get out of this country.

  3. Humor is an expression of hostility.
    Jokes that draw attention to our flaws and human failings such as dishonesty, judgments that we make about others on the basis of stereotype, the contradictions and injustices we encounter in our lives, or embarrassing circumstances, may be offensive to many but their individual content may still have a place within the context of the free expression of ideaswhen the victim or butt of the anecdote is the teller, or is understood to represent them personally. However, jokes about violent crimes such as rape, (mutilation, “honor” killings, burning people alive, making home decor items out of remains, etc), aren’t acceptable or appropriate. They are harmful in the same sense that yelling fire in an enclosed public venue would be. The result can only be harmful. Allowing such public statements to go unchallenged is actively harmful to all victims of rape, as it opens the door to acceptance of rape and other violent crimes.
    Moreover, it fosters an attitude that allows for tolerance of rapists and implies that there is some construct of reality within which a rapist (mutilator ,child killer), may be viewed as a hapless victim in some silly circumstance. as the object of the joke.
    Referencing victims of any heinous crime (cannot otherwise be justified, explained away, excused.or pardoned due to extenuating circumstances), within the context of a “comedy” routine neither justifies the performer’s right under freedom of speech to use the reference, nor excuses the use of victims of violent crime as objects of ridicule or as subjects of anecdotes which may foster a less serious opinion of such occupancies,
    In a very real sense performers posing as comedians who use material referring to violence such as rape, target victims and re-subject them to the experience of the crime. It isn’t ok to blame victims or portray the event in a way that makes people laugh about it. To ridicule them denies the heinous effect of the crime, belittles the overall seriousness of the act and endorses an attitude of tolerance for rapists.
    As such, the heckler had every right and IMO an obligation to stand up and voice an objection to the material. Furthermore, anyone who allows such remarks to go unchallenged consequently owns a degree of responsibility for the outcome of all remarks of that nature; any increased tolerance of rapists or acceptance for any circumstance under which rape and other violent crime could be seen as acceptable. .


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