Thread: Rape Jokes
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Old July 30 2012, 12:50 AM   #26
Christopher
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Re: Rape Jokes

I think that ancient Doonesbury strip fits the parameters in Lindy West's article about a rape joke that works -- because it's not endorsing Mike's attitude, it's making fun of it. He's bought into the fantasy of being an aggressive womanizer who takes what he wants, but in reality he has no chance of making it happen. It shows how men objectify women as a compensation for their own sense of inadequacy, and it shows how pathetic those men really are. Okay, it doesn't work very well as a joke, but it kinda works.

True, the woman comes off just as negatively, if not more so. But comedy can be equally scornful of both participants in an interaction.

I've never seen this Tosh person perform, but I agree with West's article: simply being offensive is not the same as being funny. People often laugh as a defense mechanism to defuse feelings of anxiety or discomfort, and too many comics use that as a lazy shortcut, evoking that kind of laughter when they don't have the ability to say anything genuinely funny. There can be value in giving offense when there's a reason for it, when it genuinely makes a point or forces people to think, but "because I don't have any better material" is not a good enough reason. And using rape humor to deliberately intimidate or silence women -- as, for instance, in this case -- is completely unacceptable, cowardly, and vile.
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