Comedian's Rape Joke Causes Furor

The internet erupted into a firestorm this week when a woman who had attended a comedy show in LA by Daniel Tosh wrote an account of what happened to her at the show:


So Tosh then starts making some very generalizing, declarative statements about rape jokes always being funny, how can a rape joke not be funny, rape is hilarious, etc. I don’t know why he was so repetitive about it but I felt provoked because I, for one, DON’T find them funny and never have. So I didnt appreciate Daniel Tosh (or anyone!) telling me I should find them funny. So I yelled out, “Actually, rape jokes are never funny!”

After I called out to him, Tosh paused for a moment. Then, he says, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…” and I, completely stunned and finding it hard to process what was happening but knowing i needed to get out of there, immediately nudged my friend, who was also completely stunned, and we high-tailed it out of there. It was humiliating, of course, especially as the audience guffawed in response to Tosh, their eyes following us as we made our way out of there. I didn’t hear the rest of what he said about me.

There's been a flurry of debate on twitter, an apology (some called it a faux-pology), and interesting commentary. Here are two of my favorite responses.

From Alyssa Rosenberg:

...the main thing Tosh needs to apologize for is what he put the audience member through. She felt threatened and humiliated, and he targeted her in front of an audience. It’s be nice to see him use that power to impress an audience to explain why what he did wasn’t funny or insightful. I’d even be interested to hear him explain his thought process in formulating his response or his emotional reaction to the audience member’s comments, like Jason Alexander did when he apologized for his comments about cricket being a “gay sport” earlier this year. The best apologies involve conversation rather than deflection.

From Melissa McEwan:

There is no neutral in rape culture, and jokes that diminish or normalize rape empower rapists. Rape jokes are pro-rape....

Daniel Tosh's defenders are not clueless and do not need me to educate them. I refuse to credit as ignorance what is an entrained, practiced, deliberate enforcement of the rape culture. If you incite rape, you are an enforcer of rape culture. If you argue that inciting rape is harmless, you are an enforcer of rape culture. I'm not going to pretend there's any debate about that.

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at July 11, 2012, 8:15am

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