Are you familiar with some twatwaffle named Daniel Tosh? He’s a “comedian” who is every bit as funny as Howard Stern, which to say he is not very amusing at all. Like Stern, Tosh tells “jokes” that reinforce patriarchal privilege by mocking and belittling those without access to hegemonic power and he gets called “edgy” for it. Because being racist and making fun of fat women is something NO ONE else in our culture does! How hilarious!
There is currently a media storm swirling around this asshat. Tosh was performing live in a comedy club when he was “heckled” by a woman who pointed out that rape jokes are not funny. The woman later explained on her blog that she called out:
“because, even though being “disruptive” is against my nature, I felt that sitting there and saying nothing, or leaving quietly, would have been against my values as a person and as a woman. I don’t sit there while someone tells me how I should feel about something as profound and damaging as rape.”
Ever a source of wit, Tosh then said:
“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.
Some people are defending him under the same old excuse that he is “pushing the envelope” and basically saying that those of us who don’t like his jokes should lighten up. Right. Because he’s not being offensive, we just don’t get how awesome it is to tacitly condone rape. Bullshit. First, there was nothing actually funny in the “joke” he told. Seriously. It sucked as a joke. Secondly, finding something disgusting is not the same thing as having a sense of humor. Humor often challenges preconceived ideas. When you denigrate people who don’t meet patriarchal approval, and trivialize their humanity so that crimes against them seem less important, you aren’t pushing the envelope; you are challenging nothing. You are simply reinforcing the patriarchy and trying to ‘shame’ all those who are repulsed by your behavior for their willingness to stand up against this crap into silence by using the ‘you have no sense of humor’ excuse.
Melissa, over on Shakesville, does an excellent job of explaining why rape jokes uphold rape culture. Like racist jokes codify the idea that the Other are inferior, rape jokes help “normalize” rape and support the idea that women are natural targets for rape. Rape jokes send a message that assures rapists that what they are doing is something all men do or want to do, so they aren’t so bad for doing it. The words you use and hear MATTER because they literally create your ideas, rather than simply communicate them. The language you speak gives you the concepts you think with.
Tosh has apologized, but considering he has made rape jokes for years and is only sorry now that he is in trouble, I think he is only sincerely sorry he is the focus of collective ire.
Speaking of collective ire … you can contact Viacom here to ask them why they insist on parading this dickweed in front of the public, and please sign this petition on Change.org to try to get this pro-rape asshat off the air.