Daniel Tosh makes jokes that support rape culture and he’s defended as a “nice guy” while feminists are threatened with rape for pointing it out. Joe Paterno is accused of participating in a cover up of child rape and his “legend” legacy is defended while Sandusky’s victims are slandered.
Misconceptions about sexual and domestic violence persist, despite feminists’ best efforts to educate the public. Rapists are assumed to be scary-looking strangers in a bush with a knife, not somebody you know and trust who uses coercion and alcohol. Batterers are assumed to be unshaven, drunken criminals, not the charming person you fell in love with.
Feminist women have taught me many things. One is that sexual/domestic violence can’t occur without sexism (racism, homophobia, etc.). Sexual violence is supported by a “rape culture” that glorifies objectification and male ownership of girls and women. Sexual coercion is painted as romantic–men are not only expected to use coercion to “score,” they are pressured and punished as “unmanly” if they don’t.
Benefiting from “rape culture”
It seems the stereotype of rapists has a counterpart–the stereotype of those who perpetuate and benefit from rape culture.
Daniel Tosh tells jokes that trivialize rape and his apologists explain that it’s our fault if we are “offended,” citing free speech as his defense. But the feminist women and men who have spoken out against Tosh’s “jokes” were not simply “offended” – they were alarmed that his actions made women unsafe. They were concerned that the “jokes” perpetuated (and benefited from) rape culture. Jennifer Pozner draws a “difference between the hilarity of jokes that undermine rape culture and the cruelty of those that normalize rape and demean victims.”
I’m less interested in the “did he or didn’t he” of this particular example of rape culture perpetuation, more the systemic effect of rape culture on rape victims, and the permissiveness and forgiveness that rape culture brings to guys like Tosh–and me.
Are men going to run out and rape women, having listened to Tosh? Probably not. But those who do rape are let off the hook by a culture that treats rape as a joke. Rape culture allows those who do rape to escape arrest, prosecution, jail time and social sanction.
Photo from Comedy Central
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