On Louis CK, Rape Culture, & ALMOST “Getting It”

Its been awhile since I’ve blogged on here – life seems to keep getting in the way – but I feel compelled to put my two cents in on some recent drama. I expect most of my readers are already more than aware of the ridiculousness that got us here (click, in case you’re not) so I’m just going to jump right in…

The whole Daniel Tosh scandal honestly didn’t get me much at first because, well, look at the source… did I expect better from the man responsible for this segment, [Serious, serious, trigger warning if you click that link] making fun of an actual sexual assault caught on video? No, no I did not.

I did, however, expect better of Louis CK and of the feminist blogosphere as a whole. I’m willing to give Louis the benefit of the doubt and assume that he really didn’t realize what was going on when he tweeted Daniel Tosh, but I can’t give a pass on the rest of this.

 I am sick and tired of seeing this piece of his Daily Show interview quoted out of context:

“I think you should listen. If someone has the opposite opinion as mine, I want to hear it so I can add to mine. I don’t want to obliterate it with mine. That’s how I feel. Now, a lot of people don’t feel that way. For me, any joke about anything bad is great. That’s how I feel. Any joke about rape, the Holocaust, the Mets, whatever.

But now I’ve read some blogs about this whole thing that enlightened me to things I didn’t know. This one woman said how rape is something that polices women’s lives. They have a narrow corridor. They can’t go out late, they can’t go in certain neighborhoods, they have to dress a certain way. And that’s part of me now that wasn’t before.”

This is a great statement – something that shows growth, and insight, and… oh… there’s more? How about we read the rest of the quote:

“…But now I’ve read some blogs about this whole thing that enlightened me to things I didn’t know. This one woman said how rape is something that polices women’s lives. They have a narrow corridor. They can’t go out late, they can’t go in certain neighborhoods, they have to dress a certain way. And that’s part of me now that wasn’t before. And I can still enjoy a good rape joke so I have both now.

I’m not saying that Louis CK is a bad guy… but I have lost a decent amount of respect for him in all of this because he came so close, SO FREAKING CLOSE, to getting it… before losing it all in that last sentence. What Louis (and many many people weighing in on this) don’t seem to realize is that many people don’t have the privilege  of “having both now” and those people are the ones who are hurting right now.

Continue reading

Are Rape Jokes Ever Funny?

Like many of my friends, I am sick to death of being told that I have no sense of humor because I don’t find jokes about rape funny. I wanted to take a moment to clarify, once and for all, why jokes about rape are (generally) not funny. The best way to do that is by focusing, first, on the exception to the rule…

Click to watch The Daily Show: V-Jay Day

This clip from the Daily Show, that uses the word rape several times, is  incredibly funny (and thank goodness for that, because the source comments are so horrendous that I need Jon Stewart’s sarcasm to restore my faith in humanity just a bit.) This clip is funny because the butt of the joke is not the survivors of rape, it is the people who make light of rape and belittle survivors to make a political point.

Not funny? Jokes that make the SURVIVOR or the act itself, the punchline. For example…

The other day, through comments of a post on xoJane (a website that has published some POWERFUL posts about rape), I am directed to one of the editor’s twitter feeds. On her twitter is a rape joke that she tweeted the day before:

Here’s an article about the assault that this joke refers to. The woman in question was robbed, sexually assaulted, and then had her life and the lives of her loved ones threatened if she dared to report the crime. The LAST thing this woman needs, on top of everything else, is people joking about how she probably ENJOYED her rape. 

THIS joke is not funny. As someone who has spent countless hours supporting rape survivors I will never, ever be able to find a joke funny if the punchline is at the expense of the survivor of an assault.

Jon Stewart’s piece is funny because the punchline is making fun of the ridiculous individual who claimed that military women were being raped “too much” (as opposed to “just enough” rape?) In this context the idea of rape is seen as abhorrent, unacceptable, awful… as it ought to be.

In the instance of this tweet, however, the survivor of the rape is the joke.  This belittles the experiences of real survivors by telling them that their assault is funny and, therefore, their pain is invalid. This is what makes it so hard for people to feel empowered to report their rapes in our society. This is what empowers rapists to hurt people, secure in the knowledge that their crime will likely not be taken seriously at all. This is what makes me sick to my stomach.

So maybe I frown just a little more often than people who don’t care about rape jokes… I’d still rather frown than hurt another human being with my laughter.

Ascot Annoyance

This is going to be a short post, because this “issue” really doesn’t deserve much attention, but I just had to get this out.

The Daily Show was really interesting tonight (it was also apparently a re-run, so bear with me while I talk about pop-culture references that are already stale). On the show tonight (which originally aired on the fifth) they spent a good seven or eight minutes making fun of CNN anchor’s Roland Martin’s decision to wear an ascot while reporting the news. Over the course of this bit all I could think was how ridiculous this was… I mean, I get that the Daily Show is a comedy show, and I guess it was a slow news week (?) but devoting seven minutes to shaming someone’s choice of wardrobe (which likely was chosen for him) just seems silly to me, silly in the way that makes me shake my head and change the channel (or blog I guess) not in the way that makes me laugh.

You know whats even sillier though? The fact that CNN then allowed Roland to respond to Stewart’s criticisms by declaring America “The United States of Ascots” during a news show. Again, I get that there isn’t necessarily enough news to fill every second of CNN’s programming… but surely we have a better use of our time than this. I’m into fashion, even though it is very much a guilty pleasure for me… and still I can recognize that our news channels would be much better served by getting the American people information about what’s going on in our country. I mean, personally, I’d rather that five minutes be spent better outlining things like what’s in the health-care bill, or what’s going on about Arizona, or with Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, etc. than defending the glorious ascot… but maybe that’s just me.

You know what’s even sillier than that? The way real news shows and newspapers devote whole chunks of coverage to the sartorial choices of female politicians on a regular basis. In fact I’ve blogged about it before a few times: in regards to Michelle Obama’s infamous arms(1), as well as in this piece which talks about politics as a whole(2), and this once which talks about business women in general (3).

Here’s the essence of what I’ve already said (and stand by) on this topic:

Male politicians and other men of influence are rarely, if ever, criticized or lauded based on their appearance, yet women with influence (like Clinton and Palin) are.

This is wrong. Something needs to be done.

I’m not saying we need to start judging men on their appearance first, and accomplishments second; what I am saying is we need to get rid of the double standard and stop judging women, especially those who are powerful/influential on their appearance at the expense of their ideals. Having a beauty standard, regardless of what it is, is wrong and exploitative of women; all it does is cost women undue funds and attention, and hold them back from achieving all that they can achieve while leaving men, more or less, free to prove themselves with their minds and their merits. All bodies are beautiful and capable of great things – its time we start living that belief as a culture!

So now, we have slightly less of a double standard, we’ve gone from pretty much always ignoring men’s appearances in favor of their ideas, while women are constantly placed under the looking glass, to every once and awhile making fun of men too. I have to say, seeing it done to a man doesn’t make me feel any better. I mean, why the hell can’t the guy wear an ascot if he wants to? Does it somehow effect his ability to report the news to me? Oh… it doesn’t at all… then why the hell do we care?

No seriously, why the hell do we care what male or female politicians, reporters, or any leaders really are wearing… aren’t there more important things to be worrying about?