5. “This is also about men and women – couples are fighting about Daniel Tosh and rape jokes. But they’re both making a classic gender mistake – women are saying “this is how I feel about this, and my feelings should be everyone’s primary concern. Men are saying your feelings are wrong and they don’t matter. To men I say, listen every now and then. To women I say now that we’ve heard what you’ve had to say, shut the f*ck up about it for a little while. And then, we all get together to kill the Jews.”
And this is the point in the interview when I really started laughing. CK starts by trotting out old horses – women are emotional, dudes don’t listen. I’m sorry, but as an extremely passionate person who dates a pretty even-keeled kind of guy, this is totally true. He doesn’t care when I am ranting on about Mitt Romney or the patriarchy, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t value my opinions. On the flip side, when he’s going on and on about something in physics, you couldn’t pay me to care (or listen half of the time).
We both do it, but “dudes don’t listen” is a pretty common joke. Not anything revolutionary there. Melissa McEwan at Shakesville calls this talk “gender essentialism,” and while that’s probably true, CK wasn’t seeking to have a philosophical conversation about gender roles. He was offering up commentary that many of us identify with, essentialism or not. The “shut the f*ck up about it for a little while” comment was hysterical. As someone who is told to shut up a lot, I’m pretty used to it, so maybe I’m desensitized. I’m a fat young feminist who lives in Texas – you don’t have to preach to me about not being listened to. Feminists should probably stop proving the point that we can’t take a joke, and the first step to doing that is to pay attention to the context.
There was some brilliant discussion across the web about the kinds of rape jokes that are acceptable – meaning that they don’t make the victim the butt of the joke. Louis CK may still enjoy a “good rape joke,” but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t the empowering ones, the ones that give survivors something to laugh at. People who have been sexually assaulted may use humor to cope with what happened to them – and that is fine. They’re allowed.
On Twitter this morning, I made the point that I find it hysterical when someone who is obviously uninformed or otherwise a moron tells me that I’m dumb or that I should shut up and go eat some more cookies. That shit is funny to me. You know why? Because it proves that you’ve won the argument. It proves that they have no intellectual recourse.
I asked @amaditalks if she felt the same way. Judging from her response, she didn’t:
“No, I find it highly offensive, inappropriate and infuriating. Why would I be amused by such a thing?”
I thought that was kind of a thing when you decided to become a feminist blogger/Tweeter. At first you’re all offended by the trolls, but then you begin to just laugh at them. I was wrong.
Point being, we all find things to be funny that others would find horrifying or completely unfunny. I tend to be in the camp that rape is never funny, but Kate Harding’s brilliant round up of rape jokes that work has changed my mind – rape jokes can be empowering, but only if they’re framed in the correct way.
The real point, though, is that we should constantly be evolving and learning. That’s what the entire feminist movement is about. We can’t continually be pissed off at dudes for working on correcting their biases and misconceptions. We can’t say that they’re just covering their asses when they genuinely are trying to evolve and grow as a human being.
That’s no way to build a movement, and it’s no way to encourage men and women to get involved. In fact, it’s directly exclusionary. If we refuse to include those that aren’t quite as “feminist” as we are, we’re making a mistake.
So, ultimately, I think that Louis CK did a pretty damn progressive thing. I think that he used a huge platform like The Daily Show to announce that rape is a thing that “polices women’s lives.” That women have to worry about leaving their homes, wearing the wrong clothes, and that rape is a real life concern for all women.
So, I’ll pose the question: How many people (not just men) were watching and went to bed with that thought on their mind?
Amy is a social media strategist living in Dallas, Texas. She likes music, trashy TV, and ladybiz. tweet: @aemccarthy
This post originally appeared on Feminists for Choice. It was printed with permission
Also check out this video - Rape Joke Supercut by the Women's Media Center, Fem 2.0, Women in Media and News and Pop Culture Pirate.
15 Rape Jokes That Work (Kate Harding)
Anatomy of a Successful Rape Joke (Nation)