Jessica Valenti explains (more patiently than I could) why most rape jokes are not funny (and what kind are).
But here’s the thing: threatening women with rape, making light of rape, and suggesting that women who speak up be raped is not edgy or controversial. It’s the norm. This is what women deal with every day. Maintaining the status quo around violence against women isn’t exactly revolutionary.
The woman who was the target of Daniel Tosh’s “jokes” tells what that was like. Tosh told some rape jokes (not the funny kind), and she disrupted his routine by yelling, “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.
It’s reminiscent of Michael Richards’s racist “jokes” yelled at another heckler a few years ago. That was a career-ender. Will the same apply to Tosh? I don’t know, but I doubt it.