I’m glad that there are some brave feminists on the internet who aren’t afraid to stand up and say that they like rape jokes. I’m rarely a fan of absolutes. “Rape is never funny!” strikes me as about as productive as saying, “Nobody wants to have an abortion.” It blocks out the voices of people for whom rape jokes or abortion have been an overwhelmingly positive thing, something which has allowed them to move past a dark time.
Curtis Luciani gets this, as he closed his article on Daniel Tosh’s outburst.
“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.”
Kate Harding just posted 15 Rape Jokes That Work. All of these comedians get it. The butt of their jokes is rape culture and rapists, not victims and would-be victims of sexual assault.
Lindy West wrote a great take-down of the portions of internetlandia that tried to mansplain away Tosh’s failure. She closes with 4 more rape jokes that work. One is repeated on Harding’s list, so let’s just bring the tally to 18.
Twitter user @marykaeowens sums up the problem succinctly: “I want men to be as scared of making rape jokes in front of women as white people are of saying “nigger” in front of black people.”
Talented comics have long been doing race humor to expose injustices rather than perpetuate racism, and the same is true for rape jokes. You absolutely can touch these issues, but you’d better be smart, you’d better be good and you’d better understand. The problem with Tosh and his defenders is that they just come off as heartless and rapey.