For sites like Jezebel, the hangup is definitely the male comedian making a joke about rape.
As a backgrounder, most of this mess started when Daniel Tosh made (or may not have made) a crude joke directed at a heckler about how it would be 'hilarious' if the heckler was sexually assaulted. Presumably it was a joke created to put down and offend the target, and by all measures it worked.
Of course, the blogosphere went nuts. Endless discussion about how rape jokes normalize rape and contribute to the "rape culture".
The discussions about rape jokes usually goes in circles, with pointless examples provided where comics manage to joke about the subject of rape in "appropriate" terms. The jokes that are seemingly OK might be ones that lampoon rapists or make an important point about the subject while avoiding laughing at victimization itself.
Things get worse when fans of shocking humor (many of whom could not care less what anybody thinks, really) send messages to the "feminists" to provoke a response. The "feminists" soon add this anonymous feedback to their index of "misogyny" and "patriarchy", further convinced their cause is noble.
The debate is stupid.
This is a world where a holocaust joke is a staple, and people can have a laugh at fatality counts at school shootings, it is patently ridiculous to state as a matter of fact that there is a certain set of crimes that are a particularly problematic subject for comedy.
What is truly laughable, and is the true joke in all this, is how little the topic of rape is actually addressed in all this faux outrage.
"Feminists" are quick to cite statistics sourced in studies they often cannot be bothered to read.
Statistics state that as high as 1 in 5 females will be raped. The number of rapes reported to the police is vastly under-reported.
"Feminists" would apparently blame the under-reporting on "rape culture" and "victim blaming" but the facts of the matter seem to be more complicated than that.
A rapist is not someone who jumps out of the shadows after a comedy show and sexually assaults a stranger. A rapist is more likely to already have some sort of relationship with the victim.
Many are of course already aware of this, and think this buttresses their criticism of comedians.
The idea is that a "rape joke" makes acquaintance rape to be viewed as a less serious problem. Males within earshot of this apparently socially acceptable humor are more ready to be dismissive of their sexual crimes and those of their peers.
Furthermore the joke allows males to be more emboldened to read "drunk and in my company" as implicit consent to sexual activity.
Right now, you might think that this similar to "feminists" thinking porn causes rape despite all evidence to the contrary.
Explosion of easily accessible porn (and shocking "misogynist" comedy) on the web does not seem to have contributed to the incidence of rape. Unless one believes that reported rapes and total rapes have nothing in common, the number of rapes each year has declined.
For a moment however, imagine this "rape joke" crisis is the real deal.
What would this look like when applied to other "jokes"?
- Jokes about Roman Catholic priests would increase the rate of child abuse
- Dead baby jokes would increase number of abortions, fetal+post partum homicide
- Jokes about the holocaust increase the prevalence of genocide
- A Chris Brown joke would increase the likelihood of violence against women
- Jokes about Islam and Judaism increase rates of anti-semitic and "Islamophobic" hate crimes
- Genital mutilation (read: Bobbitt) jokes would increase rates of male circumcision, FGM, and domestic assault
Hold on a moment - that last bullet point - the 'penis cut off' joke just happens to be a staple of 'feminist' comedy!
It's a classic joke that Rebecca Watson likes and commenters on Marcotte's blog love. If men make you angry, you can simply remove their genitals. Hilarious!
Somehow, a "rape joke" is hoisted on a pedestal and claimed to be different, more evil than other jokes.
Essentially the claim is that rape is a crime that is somehow special - its victims more victimized, its perpetrators more guilty and the prevalence of the crime is more linked to nebulous social norms.
Beyond that, joking about the rape of women in particular is crossing a line - prison rape, child abuse in the priesthood are still largely fair game for joke material.
Not only is there really no evidence of this, it's actually to some degree offensive. One imagines a 'feminist' sitting through an hour long show put on by a ridiculously provocative comic, only to go home and blog about the heterosexual rape joke was the one that qualifies as "too far".
The "rape joke" blog outrage accomplishes two things:
- Raises the profile of the comics involved (who knew Tosh did standup?)
- Acquires page views for pop-feminist sites like Jezebel
This is a feeding frenzy without end, and does not do anything substantive to address the incidence of rape.
In all this, the joke's on you. We read this "feminist" "news", our blood pressure goes up for a few brief moments, and then we carry on after expressing hatred of some quip made by some comic we don't know.
Everyone is wasting their time criticizing comedy.
That is, in some strange way, quite funny.