Dear Daniel Tosh, Dane Cook, Louis CK, and anyone else defending or making rape jokes,
Rape is never funny. NEVER. Yes, I said never. Do you want to know why rape jokes are never funny? Because RAPE is never funny. Do you want to know how I know that rape is never funny? Because I’ve been raped. And I can tell you from firsthand experience that there was nothing funny about it. I didn’t laugh ONCE during the entire experience! Shocking, I know.
And see, when you make jokes about rape, what you’re really doing is excusing and minimizing the act of rape. You are essentially taking the power away from the word “rape,” which takes the power away from the act of rape. It becomes this thing that we can joke about, and things that we joke about aren’t really that bad, right? You’re telling me that the most traumatic thing that ever happened to me is actually kind of funny. You’re telling every woman, man, person, and child that has ever been raped that it’s okay to make jokes about their trauma.
You’re basically telling us to “lighten up” because you have the privilege of never having experienced having your body, your power, and your agency violently taken from you. You also happen to have the privilege of not having to worry about ever having that taken from you. Because if this was something you had experienced or worried about experiencing, if this was a reality for you every day, I’m pretty sure that you wouldn’t be making jokes about it.
These jokes are allowed to exist because we live in a rape culture. And these jokes help excuse and minimize rape itself. And rape is a tool of the patriarchy. It’s a means of establishing power by a person in a dominant class of people over a person in an oppressed class of people. And when we attack rape jokes, the patriarchy gets angry because we are trying to take away one of the tools that rape culture uses to keep women and queer people oppressed and powerless. It’s why misogynists respond so violently and aggressively whenever their misogyny is pointed out and criticized.
I also want to ask you if you would still think that rape was funny if your mother or your sister or your wife or your girlfriend or your friend told you that she had been raped. Would it still be funny if it happened to someone that you loved? Would it still be funny if it happened to someone you knew? Would it still be funny if you put a familiar face to the generic “female” that you picture in your mind, the faceless outline of a body that you project this vile hatred onto? Because I can guarantee that people that you know and care about have been victims of rape. In fact, 1 in 4 women will be a victim in her lifetime, though I think that the number is higher than that. Almost every woman that I speak to has experienced some kind of sexual violence.
If you ever wonder why I am so unashamed of the fact that I am a survivor of sexual assault, why I am okay with shouting it from the rooftops if I have to, it is because I want to put a face and a voice to this unspeakable crime. This crime that so many people, namely women and queer folk, are victims of and yet nobody talks about. The crime that we shame the victims of instead of the perpetrators of. I will not be ashamed. I will show you my face. I will be a voice for all of those people that are still too afraid to say that they’ve been there, too. And maybe my voice will help someone else say, “me too.”
And when more people say “me too,” and more people say “this is not funny” and “this is not okay,” we become a chorus of voices that is too loud to ignore. And my hopes are that one day our chorus of voices will be loud enough to drown out the voices of those who support and perpetuate this rape culture. And so, I raise my voice. And I dare you to look me in the eye and tell me that my rape and the rape of every person that you know was funny. Do it, I dare you.
And maybe you will. Maybe you’re just that big of a dick. But I hope not. Because despite everything, I still have faith in people. I still think that most of us are good people, deep down inside. And I still think that we can change the culture that we live in. And so again, I raise my voice. I will ALWAYS raise my voice and say, “FUCK YOU.”