Today in Rape Culture: Tosh.0
I love funny online videos as much as most people, so when web clip show Tosh.0 started airing on Comedy Central, I watched a few episodes. I soon decided that I could no longer watch due to frequent rape jokes and other misogynistic and problematic material.
Last night, I saw a new promo for the upcoming season of Tosh.0 and was slapped across the face with a blatant rape joke. Unfortunately I can’t embed it, so you’ll have to go to the site to view it. Here’s the transcript:
Some guy, probably from a web video I haven’t seen: Hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your husband.
Daniel Tosh: Because on season 3 of Tosh.0, we’re raping everybody.
“We’re raping everybody.” That was deemed acceptable for a show promo on Comedy Central, and is available on the network’s and show’s websites.
But c’mon, it’s supposed to be funny, right? Why take it so seriously?
Because it matters. Because “raping everybody” is not even funny, it’s ignorant and obnoxious and cruel. Because even if it were “funny” to some people, it normalizes sexual violence and is an insult to everyone who has been raped or remotely cares whether someone they care about has been or will be raped.
In preparing to write about this, I immediately thought of all the preemptive apologizing I was going to need to do for not finding this funny, for taking it seriously, for focusing on the “little things,” for being a humorless feminist. Here’s the thing: I want to stop pretending that we have to apologize for being offended by things like this. It’s not wrong to note the offense inherent in making a “joke” like “we’re raping everybody.” Is it too much to ask for that to be obvious to pretty much everybody who sees that clip? Shouldn’t it be obvious to the Comedy Central personnel who produced and aired the promo? Shouldn’t *that* be what we expect, instead of the anticipated critiques of our own senses of humor?
There has been a lot of discussion of rape culture and rape apology in media in the feminist blogosphere recently, and the successes and failures of feminists, especially white feminists, in addressing the full spectrum of much-needed rape activism. There are a lot of fair and important points to be digested there, that rape activism fails when it fails any group of women, and rape activism fails a lot of women without certain kinds of privilege. I want to note, then, that a “joke” in a Comedy Central promo is relatively minor compared to immigrant women not being able to seek justice for rape, trans women not being able to get into a shelter, rape kits that are never processed, and so on. But I think it deserves to be called out, to be noted for the abomination it is – a normalizing of sexual violence for cheap laughs and money.
Here’s Comedy Central’s feedback form: http://www.comedycentral.com/help/questionsCC.jhtml
The network’s Twitter account is at http://twitter.com/ComedyCentral
Additional reading: Rape Jokes Aren’t Funny – a round-up of several posts by Melissa McEwan of Shakesville
[Addendum: I've had a couple of responses about the other man in the promo and the source material. Not surprisingly, I still don't find it funny/appropriate.]