One brave woman in the audience of a Daniel Tosh comedy gig heckled “rape jokes are never funny” after he had told several in a row. He responded by asking the audience: “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by, like, five guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her?”
We’re not laughing. And neither are the 80,000 women who are raped every year in the UK alone. Rape jokes seem to be becoming more and more prevalent – led by high profile comedians like Frankie Boyle and Jimmy Carr, and taking over at open mic nights all over the country.
This ‘comedy’ is lazy and un-intelligent. But it also, combined with prolific violent pornography on the internet, ‘lads mags’ in every corner shop and aggressive sexual imagery in advertising, adds to a culture that accepts, and even glorifies rape and sexual assault.
This is in the context of increasing attacks on women by politicians. Tory justice minister Ken Clarke suggested some types of rape are “less serious” than others. George Galloway claimed that even if the allegations against Julian Assange were true they wouldn’t constitute rape but merely “bad sexual etiquette” because if a woman “goes to bed” with a man they are “already in the sex game”. And its not just a matter of words either – services that support victims of sexual violence are being cut to the bone.
It is estimated that only 15% of rapes are reported to the police. This is partly because of the mixture of emotions many women feel after being attacked. But it also because, given the fact that only 7% of reported rapes result in conviction, women fear not being take seriously. Rape jokes only add to this.
We’ve had enough. Instead of having to make a stand individually, like the brave woman at the Tosh gig, we should challenge this sexism together.
That’s why Socialist Students has set up Rape Is No Joke – a campaign for comedy without misogyny. We want comedians to sign our pledge that they won’t tell rape jokes. We want venues and organisers to agree not to host anyone who does. And we want to educate to begin to tackle the attitude that rape is something to be laughed at. Get involved with the campaign to make rape jokes a thing of the past.
This is the first Huffington Post UK blog entry on behalf of the Rape Is No Joke campaign. We are a new campaign, set up by Socialist Students, aimed at tackling the increasing trend of misogyny, particularly rape jokes, in comedy.