The incident between comedian Daniel Tosh and a female audience member that happened recently at the Hollywood Laugh Factory involving a rape joke has been all over the place lately. I’ve seen a lot of buildup making this incident into a feud between feminists and comedic freedom.
I came across Austin area comedian, Curtis Luciani’s response a few days ago and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. No matter what your feelings about the Tosh incident are, I think this is a must read. It goes beyond this particular rape joke and is the best response I have read in regard to this issue.
(Warning: Graphic. Includes language that may be offensive to some people. Also, may be triggering)
Let’s imagine a world in which women cut men’s dicks off. Like, frequently. To the extent that one in five men has had his dick cut off by a woman or had a woman attempt to cut his dick off.
(I apologize immediately if it sounds like I’m being flip. I am not being flip. Imagine the pain and shame and humiliation of someone cutting your dick off. Imagine it in earnest.)
Sometimes it’s a clear-cut case where a woman attacks you in the street, out of nowhere, and cuts your dick off. But more often it’s a situation where you actually know the woman, maybe you trust her, maybe you think everything’s okay, and then one day she cuts your dick off.
Still with me? This is going to take a while. I’ll tell you when I’m done. (And if you think I’m being insufferably self-righteous: Good news, you don’t have to read this!)
Okay, now let’s also say that the shame and guilt around having your dick cut off is so strong that many dick-cuttings go completely unreported. After all, someone is likely to raise the question of whether or not you were “asking for it” in one way or another. And if you do accuse a woman of cutting your dick off, you can expect to see people (quite naturally) rally to her defense and slander your character in response.
You can expect to see her friends… who are maybe also friends or yours… shrug their shoulders and say “Well, I don’t know, it’s complicated… it sounds like something was just happening between the two of them and maybe it got out of hand. I dunno. But I know that Sarah’s not a bad gal. I know she would never, like, MALICIOUSLY cut a dude’s dick off.”
So, a shitty state of affairs for the men-folk of our imaginary world, yes?
Now imagine that in this world, something like 90 percent of professional performing comedians are women. And they’ve accepted that there are certain codes of behavior when it comes to comedy. Most people who “like comedy” generally accept the premise that there are no subject areas that cannot be somehow given a comic treatment, but it is also accepted, as a practical rule, that as the subject gets more troubling, more intense, more painful, a more skilled approach is necessary to find the humor in it.
However, it is also accepted that people are people and they are going to have authentic responses to things. It is accepted, for example, that you probably should not go in front of an audience that contains several black people and start tossing around the n-word unless you have an EXCEPTIONALLY sophisticated and road-tested routine built around it, one that you are confident will overcome the very significant risk you are incurring. If a comedian did this and did NOT overcome the risk, no one would be shocked if the audience shouted her down and stormed her out of the club, nor would anyone be particularly eager to defend her.
HOWEVER, there’s this ONE thing. Many of the comediennes of this world have this ONE little sticking point. One little thing. It just IRKS the hell out of them that they can’t seem to make jokes about cutting dicks off without some whiny pussy male in the audience throwing a shit fit about it!
Now, sure, there’s a few comediennes at the top of their game who can pull it off. Their approach is skillful, and they somehow make the joke without minimalizing or trivializing the actual pain involved. But then the rest of them think, “Well, geez, if they can do it, why can’t I? It’s not fair, darn it! I should be able to work with the same material as someone much better than me and get the same result and not make anyone hate me or say mean things about me on the Internet! Waaaaahhh!
“I mean, after all, do that many men REALLY get their dicks cut off? I’ve heard the statistic, but that’s probably overblown. And I bet a lot of them were asking for it. I mean, in any case, there’s a lot of grey area. I know one thing for sure: none of the men I KNOW has ever had his dick cut off. If they had, they would tell me, right? I mean, right? And besides, there’s a principle at stake here. I AM AN ARTIST. I should be able to say whatever shitty thing I want, and people should be able to suppress their authentic response to it!
“And if they DON’T suppress their authentic response to it: why, that’s censorship or something! Besides, I know this and that example of a time where a comedienne I know made a joke that wasn’t even ABOUT dick-cutting, and some whiny pussy dude got upset about it anyway! It’s just these humorless masculinists! They can’t take a joke about anything anyway. So, since I can think of examples where a comedienne was unfairly criticized by someone without a sense of humor, this must be what happens in all cases.”
Okay, I think we see what I’m getting at here.
Fine, yes, WHAT-THE-FUCK-EVER. I will concede the following points that every comedian wants us all so badly to concede:
1) Theoretically, there is no subject that should be considered off-limits for humor.
2) There will always be some example where a performer of extremely high skill can take something very painful and make it work.
Here’s what YOU need to understand:
1) Rape is way, WAY more prevalent than you seem to think it is. Are there more than five women in your audience? You do the math, and then you run the little fantasy scenario that I just put together in your head, and you tell me how it feels.
2) I ain’t buying any of that “If I can make jokes about genocide, why can’t I make jokes about rape?” Horseshit, unless you made those genocide jokes during a gig at the Srebrenica Funny Bone. You got away with making a joke about genocide because your odds of having a holocaust survivor’s kid in the audience were pretty fucking low.
And if you did happen to have one in the audience, and he heckled you, walked out, and wrote something nasty on the internet… would you be more likely to be a human being and say “Wow. I can understand why that person’s authentic response to what I was doing was so emotional and negative. Maybe my genocide material just isn’t good enough to justify the pain that it inflicts. Maybe I need more skill in order to pull this off.” Or are you gonna be a lousy piece of shit and say, “Yeah, I apologize, I guess, IF YOU WERE OFFENDED.”
Offended hasn’t got anything to do with it, moron.
People have wounds, and those wounds are painful. That doesn’t have shit to do with the weak concept of “taking offense.” If someone talks about Texas being a shitty state, I might “take offense” at that. Fine, whatever. All of us who like comedy are generally in agreement with the idea that “taking offense” is lame, and a comedian should be willing to “offend” whenever he or she wants to.
But causing pain is quite a different fucking matter. Your job as a comedian is to take us through pain, transcend pain, transform pain. And if you don’t get that, you are a fucking bully, and I’ve got zero time for bullies.
“Our first goal is prevention through education. Information is always the best way to combat sexual violence. Our larger goal is to raise awareness to an issue that should have no place in society and especially in our schools.”
Biden goes on to speak about the severity of our nation’s problem with sexual assault, and the distorted views that have led to a universal mentality of victim blaming. He speaks about our nation’s need to address sexual assault on college campuses, a place that rape and assault is so often covered up in an attempt to save-face and pretend like sexual violence is not a problem.
“Students across the country deserve the safest possible environment in which to learn,” said Vice President Biden. “That’s why we’re taking new steps to help our nation’s schools, universities and colleges end the cycle of sexual violence on campus.”
Biden’s speech is a long time coming, as sexual assault is the number one violennt crime on college campuses; for those who have been fighting for years to get our administration to pay attention, it is a small but significant step in the fight against sexual abuse. The letter, which addresses some of the widespread institutional downfalls, requires schools: to support victims of sexual assault by not punishing them for underage drinking and drugs (if involved) thereby recognizing rape and sexual assault as a far more serious crime than an alcohol-related misdemeanor; to inform survivors of their rights to a full investigation, providing advisement of the outcome should a review take place; and to investigate all reported sexual assaults in a timely manner.
He includes vivid stories of victims; victims that were brutally raped and assault that were later blamed for what happened to them because of the way they dressed or acted, the places they went, or the simple fact that they were hurt by someone they knew and loved. Passionately declaring that ”When it comes to sexual abuse, it’s quite simple: no means no. “No means no if you’re drunk or you’re sober; no means no if you’re in bed in a dorm or on a street… And it’s a crime to disregard no. The allocation of blame has been for too many centuries allocated in a way that’s totally irrelevant and inappropriate.”
“So much more needs to be done to empower younger women as well as empower and educate younger men,” he added, touching on a very important aspect of the battle against sexual assault.
“No matter what a girl does, no matter how she’s dressed, no matter how much she’s had to drink, it’s never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ok to touch her without her consent. This doesn’t make you a man. It makes you a coward. A flat-out coward.”
I couldn’t agree more, Vice President. Thank you.
I highly recommend watching the entire letter.
Debunking 17 Popular Myths About Sexual Assault
1. Men rape women because they are overly aroused sexually or have been sexually deprived.
MYTH. Rape is not about sex, it is about power and control. No matter what, sexual contact by force, or without consent, is against the law. No matter what.
2. It is not rape if the victim isn’t a virgin.
MYTH. Every person has the right to decide whether or not they want to have sex EVERY time they do it. A person’s past sex life does not matter and is not a factor in deciding whether or not it was rape. Even if two people have had sex before, if one person forces the other person to have sex, it is rape.
3. Acquaintance rapes are not as serious as stranger rapes.
MYTH. Any type of rape or sexual assault is serious and has serious effects on a person’s life. Despite the common belief that you can only be raped by a stranger, statistics show that over 80% of rape victims know their abuser. Acquaintance rape sometimes can be even more damaging to a victim’s life because of the betrayal of trust.
4. Women provoke rape by the way they dress.
MYTH. Women have a right to wear whatever they want. There is no correlation between what people wear and if they are raped. This is an example of victim blaming.
5. Men cannot be raped.
MYTH. Although it is less common, men can also be victims of sexual assault. In fact, 1 in 10 men will experience rape in their lifetime.
6. Women who do not fight back haven’t been raped.
MYTH. Everyone acts differently when faced with a traumatic situation. Some victims fight. Some freeze. Some are afraid that if they fight back they will be hurt worse, or possibly killed. No matter what, it is still rape.
7. Only gay men are sexually assaulted.
MYTH. There is no correlation between gay men and men that are victims of rape. Rape can happen to anyone.
8. Only gay men sexually assault other men.
MYTH. There is also no correlation between gay men and perpetrators of sexual assault. Straight men also assault other men.
9. Men cannot be sexually assaulted by women.
MYTH. Although this is rare, it does still happen and is just as traumatic for the victim.
10. Erection, ejaculation, or orgasm during a sexual assault means the victims “really wanted it” or consented.
MYTH. Our bodies react to things differently. Many victims experience sexual arousal, however, it does not mean that they secretely wanted to be raped. Even if it might feel good, the lasting and long term effects are just as devastating and can be confusing for victims.
11. Only young, attractive women, or women who engage in risky behavior are raped.
MYTH. Rape can happen to anyone. Every age, size, appearance. Rape is about power and control. It is not about sex.
12. Rapes are committed by strangers at night in dark allys.
MYTH. This is the popular image associated with rape, however, this situation is a very small percentage of the number of rapes that occurs. Rape can happen anywhere. It can happen by anyone, to anyone.
13. Most rapes are committed by black men against white women.
MYTH. This is also completely false. Rape happens to, and by, every race of the human population.
14. Men who rape are psychologically deranged individuals.
MYTH. There are examples of perpetrators who are doctors, lawyers, politicians, professional athletes, celebrities, etc. There is not one type of person who rapes.
15. Women secretly want to be raped.
MYTH. No woman wants to be raped. If a woman says no, she means no. She doesn’t mean yes. Role play is different. If a couple engages in role play, both parties are willing parcipiants. This is different.
16. Victims hide, downplay, or cover up their stories of rape because it didn’t really happen.
MYTH. It is extremely common for victims to keep rape a secret. This happens for many reasons, often due to shame, guilt and fear. Victims may blame themselves. They might not even associate what happened to them as rape for many years. They may try to pretend like it never happened or try to erase it from their lives. One of the most important things a victim can do in order to heal is to tell someone, or many people, about what has happened to them. This takes times and is difficult to do, but breaking the silence eliminates some of the power the rape has on their life.
17. If a victim has been sexually assaulted there will be physical/medical/emotional evidence to support it.
MYTH. Most victims never go to the hospital after being raped, so often times there is no evidence.
*Research courtesy of Porchlight Counseling Center
This is a great article about the life-altering consequences of sexting on one teenage girl and the reality of how technology has changed our world ….not always for the better. Written by Jan Hoffman for The New York Times, it’s a must-read. Check it out and pass it on.
1. Start with a half naked girl.