By Ashley Maier on July 23, 2012 · tagged as , ,

Rape joke supercut: comedy to counter rape culture

There has understandably been a lot of uproar about Daniel Tosh’s rape joke threat since it occurred a few weeks ago.  What I appreciate and find to be most powerful in the response landscape are the efforts to use what happened to create dialogue about how comedy can have a positive impact – can counter rape culture.  Case in point, Rape Joke Super Cut – I Can’t Believe You Clapped for That, released by the Women’s Media Center on July 13th.

A collaboration between the Women’s Media Center, Elisa Kreisinger of Pop Culture Pirate, Fem 2.0 (a project of Turner Strategies), and Women in Media & News, the cut examines the ubiquity of “rape comedy” in America.  It offers examples of how comedy can expose the injustice of rape, rather than perpetuate it.

From the release:

“Media outlets are mischaracterizing the feminist response to Tosh: the takeaway shouldn’t be that ‘rape jokes are never funny.’ The great George Carlin proved they can be, when he used the image of Porky Pig raping Elmer Fudd in a joke that dismantled the culture of victim-blaming,” says media critic Jennifer L. Pozner, Executive Director of Women In Media & News. “Humor can be used to expose injustice, as Carlin liked to do, or to reinforce it, as Tosh did by hostilely targeting a female audience member. And Tosh’s comedian pals saying she asked for it? That’s not comedy, that’s abuse.”

What do you think?  Can jokes about rape serve a productive purpose?  Watch the clip below and share your thoughts.


Ashley Maier

More Posts by Ashley Maier

Ashley Maier, MSW, MPA, has worked in the movement to end gendered violence for well over a decade. She began as a volunteer at a domestic violence shelter in Illinois, served as a hospital-based advocate in St. Louis, coordinated community health/family violence training programs for pediatric residents in St. Louis and San Diego, and managed Oregon’s Rape Prevention and Education (RPE) grantees and program. Ashley is a contributing author to Lantern Book’s 2013 publication, Defiant Daughters: 21 Women on Art, Activism, Animals, and The Sexual Politics of Meat and is creator of the 2015 book, Circles of Compassion: Connecting Issues of Justice.

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