It’s a strange subconscious feeling that slowly crept into my daily life. I think, however, media played a bigger role in its development than my real interactions with others.
I know it’s not true, and up until recently, I wasn’t even aware that I felt that way.
I was thinking about the whole Daniel Tosh rape thing and I just thought to myself: Well, what do you expect? Men are not capable of love.
It was more than just a fleeting thought. It was a foundational belief that has been shaping how I look at the world.
I have to admit, when you see the position of women in our world, it’s hard to believe men can love. When men call us sluts and whores and cunts, it’s hard to believe they feel any ounce of love. When you see the rape statistics, when you meet victims of rape, when you yourself have been assaulted, it’s really hard to think men can love.
However, bringing it back to Tosh, that doesn’t mean rape can’t be funny.
Rape victims are not fragile damaged hysterical women who burst into crying fits every time someone says the word rape. Actually, I’ve known both male and female rape victims who can find a rape joke funny because they don’t define who they are as a “rape victims.” They are just people who got raped.
Indulge me as I further illustrate my point.
As a teenager I was groped inappropriately on more than one occasion. And because the news seems to throw that term around like paprika, let me illustrate groped:
One time I was at a concert, it was stuffy and hot, I had on jeans and a bikini top. Some perv slipped his hand under my bikini for a split second then vanished. Somehow, I felt it was my fault for being in a bikini top. I was a mere 15 or 16 at the time. Only now, years later, do I fully realize that I wasn’t asking for it. Butt-monkey needed to keep his hands to himself.
The second time, I was in a crowd and someone slipped his hand under my skirt and made a beeline for my magic cookie. What even was the plan there? Did he think I wouldn’t feel his hand in my cookie jar? Or that I would just let a stranger in a crowd finger bang me? Anyway, I dug my nails in his hand and twisted his wrist, as soon I let go he slipped away.
Depressingly, by the time I was 19, my instinctive reaction to any unwanted touching is slap first, punch later. I even slapped a friend by accident when he thought it would be cute to sneak up behind me and pinch my ass.
Anyway, does getting groped suck? Hells yeah. Do I think grope jokes are funny? Abso-freaking-lutely. Just the mere word groped makes me giggle and snicker like a 12 year old. Hi, I’m a grown-up.
Having minored in feminist studies, and having always considered myself a feminist, I can understand the underlying concern about rape jokes. It is the flippant treatment of rape as something socially acceptable and common place we just have to “deal with,” or the idea of a woman “asking for it” or that it just isn’t a legitimate concern and that we are being silly women.
All my life I have lived under the burden of rape. Culture likes to use the mere fear of rape to control women. I refuse. If I want to wear booty shorts, by God, I will. I mean, I wouldn’t be caught dead in booty shorts because I’m not a 16-year-old chonga from Hialeah, but not because someone might rape me. I’ve reached that point where I’m like “Meh, just don’t murder me.” I’m tired of being afraid.
As a comedian, I don’t like being told I can’t joke about something. If you really want comics to stop making rape jokes, stop telling them they can’t joke about rape.
I understand we have to respect the severity of rape. However, a comedy club isn’t exactly the golden ship in the harbor bringing its cargo of respect on any particular subject matter. Certainly, comedy should make life more bearable, but it’s always subjective.
I do fear that there are a generation of boys who will grow-up without any respect for women or worse, grow-up to be rapists. You can’t blame that on a comedian, just like you can’t blame Marilyn Manson for the Columbine shootings. We are a society and we are all part of this problem so lets focus on what we can do! Like, heckle a comedian… ! Hmm.
I don’t want to believe men are incapable of love, I don’t want to believe they are uncontrollable savages. I’m tired of society putting this bug in my ear. It makes rape almost excusable. These are the things that frighten me. The subtle streams of subconsciousness, gently ushering our behavior.
Most, if not all, of my comedy stems from pain, trauma, tragedy, existential darkness… etc. If you can joke about something, you can overcome it. If you can joke about something, you can include it in the social dialogue, think about it differently. So, I leave you with a joke:
I would have sex with Daniel Tosh. But only if it wasn’t consensual. And let’s face it, it would never be consensual, because I’m not a man.
New York stand-up comic Elise Valderrama isn’t afraid on her blog either.