The Blog

Dissecting Misogyny in Comedy

I'm getting pretty tired of explaining to people why rape jokes aren't funny. Instead, I have begun asking the perpetrators of such jokes why they think the jokesfunny. Desperately, I seek humour in punchlines about holding a knife to a woman's throat, about binding her with rope, about "raping that bitch".

"Comedian" Dapper Laughs has well and truly landed himself in hot water. This week, after months and months of bizarre and twisted attempts at making jokes and poking fun at that which is essentially tantamount to sexual violence, the notoriously irritating funny man felt the burn of the people's power when a national petition to get his arse booted off of the television saw success. But, of course, being the Pied Piper to the disciples of lad culture (yes, boys, I did just compare every single one of you to sewer rats - just in case that part of the metaphor didn't translate), there has been backlash.

From way up here on my big bad feminist pedestal, which is where we "fascists" are all now standing, gazing down on the ruins of our war on bantaaa and a man's right to make jokes about raping women, I sip delicately on the tears of all the fuckboys who are so gloriously butthurt about their Lord and Saviour Daniel O'Reilly having his repugnant character "censored" from the public eye.

[INSERT: a list of disarming statistics relevant to the sexual assault and rape of women and girls in the UK, none of which will be read, seen, or consequently heard by any of you entitled misogynists, anyway.]

I'm getting pretty tired of explaining to people why rape jokes aren't funny. Instead, I have begun asking the perpetrators of such jokes why they think the jokes are funny. Desperately, I seek humour in punchlines about holding a knife to a woman's throat, about binding her with rope, about "raping that bitch". Are you being satirical? Is that it? Oh, yes, I get it now. Satire. The problem there, is that you can't possibly make fun of women in the same way that they are made fun of by the police when they are interrogated about their rape accusations based on whether or not they were drunk, whether or not they were "adequately dressed", whether or not they choose to leave with a man they might have thought was safe to leave with. You can't possibly make fun of women in the same way they are made fun of in the courtroom, when they watch their rapist walk free of all charges against them.

To put it bluntly, I don't like jokes about rape because I know more women that have been raped or sexually assaulted than I know women that haven't. I don't like jokes about rape, or jokes that glorify rape, because there is nothing amusing or tickling about having your life changed in its entirety by one persons' assumed entitlement to abuse your body without your consent.

Now we should all be of clear understanding why jokes about rape aren't funny, it shouldn't be too hard to understand why a hell of a lot of women were a bit pissed off that one of the peddlers of such jokes was given a huge media platform on which to make them. Dapper Laughs: On The Pull has been axed from its place on ITV2 (also known as - the television channel where comedy goes to die - Keith Lemon, I'm looking at you) following a petition on that gathered nearly 70,000 signatures and was thus presented to the Chief Executive of ITV for review.

And across the land, the smoke did thus rise as an army of lads took to social media with hypothetical torches and pitch forks, and raged war on the feminazi perpetrators of this vile act of censorship. "Jumped up slags" they would cry - "all you need is a good dick up ya, anyway #moist". Their taunts echoed across the timeline, laced with cries of blame culture, female privilege, and tepid comparisons to "those hagged old bikes" on Loose Women. Tactful, lads, tactful.

I don't like Dapper Laughs for the obvious reason that his spoon feeding of misogynistic ideals into the mouths of idiots foolish enough to eat them, under the guise of harmless banter, is ill thought out, tasteless, and executed with about as much tact and glamour as a golden retriever dragging its shit-stained arsehole across a cream coloured carpet.

Today, however, several new shots were fired into the debate about risk-taking in comedy, under the utterance of "classism". For all my sins, I admit that I had not before thought about it from this particular viewpoint. Imagining that O'Reilly appeared to be more well spoken, perhaps better educated, or perhaps that his "comedy" was designed for a slightly differing demographic; would we reach the conclusion, therein, that he is just a bottom-feeding, classless misogynist with all the tact and guile of a sewer rat.

Well, probably.

But, respectfully, we also haven't spent enough time dissecting misogyny in comedy on a broader scale; with the inclusion of high earning male comedians such as Jimmy Carr and Frankie Boyle, who are notorious for making edge-scraping jokes about rape, and sometimes even paedophilia. And if we're going to start investigating character formation and role play, why don't we throw that ginger nut prick Keith Lemon into the mix before we start baking? Providing that Dapper Laughs is the only comedian to over-step the mark (something he has now admitted, albeit being too little, far too late) quite possibly is divisive in nature if you are focusing on the classist fragment of the debate; supposing that Dapper's jokes are primarily aimed at a lower social class of people (I wish for a better way to phrase that...), are we simply suggesting that such a class of people are basically neanderthal in type, and cannot hear a suggestive joke about sexual violence without receiving intermittent brain waves that force them to go out and start raping women in abundance?

If we're being pedantic about it, however, we could look into all of the middle class big-wig television executives, the former (and current) radio and television stars that have been tried and consequently found to be guilty of sex crimes, some might suggest that this idea lacks fuel. Just today, in fact, former Radio 1 DJ Chris Dennings pleaded guilty to as many as 40 historic sex offences, as a result of being exposed by Operation Yewtree; the very same operation that outed the likes of Jimmy Savile for vile sex crimes against hundreds of children.

Unfortunately (again, for all my sins...), however, we also can't deny that cherry picking comedians to start shaming about jokes that all comedians are making does nothing to dissect the cardinal sin of using sexual violence against women as a punchline in jokes made by men.

The primary problem with using sexual violence as a punchline in jokes (however "serious" they are intended to be) is that doing so in turn normalises the act in question that is being laughed about. And normalising sexual violence towards women indicates that it is something that doesn't necessarily to be taken seriously.

To me, as pleased as I am that some good has been done to remove Dapper Laughs from the limelight, the whole process is only a small victory of under-the-carpet sweeping that still, unfortunately, does little to tackle the very real existence of parodied misogyny in both comedy, and in everyday life.