A few weeks ago, comedian Daniel Tosh made a rape joke and was “heckled” by a female audience member–rightfully so–for the inappropriateness of the joke. Tosh, who also has a show on television (Tosh.0), retorted, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by, like, five guys right now? Like right now?”
While rape jokes are not new (George Carlin defended them on his Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics CD in the nineties, and even female comedians Sarah Silverman and Wanda Sykes make them), I suppose what made this one more shocking was that it was directed at a specific woman in the audience.
RAINN (the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) reports that someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted every two minutes, and many would argue that rape is the most heinous of all crimes. So why would comedians (male and female) feel as if rape jokes could ever be funny?
Since the age when we learn to swear like sailors (middle school?), women and men use phrases such as “stop acting like such a p***y,” “you are such a little b***h,” “son of a b***h,” “you c**t,” and “what a d****e.” These phrases are all related to females, and are all highly-used phrases that exhibit one’s vehement hatred for or frustration towards another human being. What is the message that we send to each other? That when we are feeling anger, it is socially acceptable (in many circles) to use a female-related word to curse at another. And women do this just as much as, if not more than, men.
The words we use have a profound effect on the way we see ourselves and others. Even less-offensive phrases such as “stop acting like a girl” must have a monumental, subconscious effect on both sexes when they hear it.
The ancient Chinese philosopher Laozi said:
Watch your thoughts, they become your words
Watch your words, they become your actions
Watch your actions, they become your habits
Watch your habits, they become your character
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.
When our society uses female words to exhibit anger, or rape jokes to make others laugh, the character of our society changes. So Tosh, let me hit you with an adage that you must have missed in childhood:
If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.