Daniel Tosh Is a Rape Culture Enforcer

[Content Note: Incitement of sexual violence; rape jokes.]

I've gotten a bunch of emails and tweets about the report that comedian and garbage TV show host Daniel Tosh told and defended rape jokes during a stand-up set, then incited rape against a female audience member who challenged him:
So Tosh then starts making some very generalizing, declarative statements about rape jokes always being funny, how can a rape joke not be funny, rape is hilarious, etc. I don't know why he was so repetitive about it but I felt provoked because I, for one, DON'T find them funny and never have. So I didn't appreciate Daniel Tosh (or anyone!) telling me I should find them funny. So I yelled out, "Actually, rape jokes are never funny!"

I did it because, even though being "disruptive" is against my nature, I felt that sitting there and saying nothing, or leaving quietly, would have been against my values as a person and as a woman. I don’t sit there while someone tells me how I should feel about something as profound and damaging as rape.

After I called out to him, Tosh paused for a moment. Then, he says, "Wouldn't it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…" and I, completely stunned and finding it hard to process what was happening but knowing I needed to get out of there, immediately nudged my friend, who was also completely stunned, and we high-tailed it out of there. It was humiliating, of course, especially as the audience guffawed in response to Tosh, their eyes following us as we made our way out of there. I didn't hear the rest of what he said about me.

...I should probably add that having to basically flee while Tosh was enthusing about how hilarious it would be if I was gang-raped in that small, claustrophobic room was pretty viscerally terrifying and threatening all the same, even if the actual scenario was unlikely to take place. The suggestion of it is violent enough and was meant to put me in my place.
There isn't much I can say about this, at least nothing I haven't already said literally hundreds of times before in every conceivable way I can imagine: Rape jokes are not funny. They potentially trigger survivors, and they uphold the rape culture. They tacitly convey approval of rape to rapists, who do not appreciate "rape irony." There is no neutral in rape culture, and jokes that diminish or normalize rape empower rapists. Rape jokes are pro-rape.

There are legions of rape apologists who desperately want to turn that assertion into a debatable point, so it is no surprise, though no less revolting, that the same lack of integrity and decency is now underwriting arguments that even an explicit incitement to rape a woman who objects to rape jokes is not harmful, and further that it is justified on the basis she was "heckling."

Daniel Tosh's defenders are not clueless and do not need me to educate them. I refuse to credit as ignorance what is an entrained, practiced, deliberate enforcement of the rape culture. If you incite rape, you are an enforcer of rape culture. If you argue that inciting rape is harmless, you are an enforcer of rape culture. I'm not going to pretend there's any debate about that.

teaspoon icon Tosh.0 airs on Comedy Central, which is part of the Viacom Entertainment Group. Contact Viacom here, and ask them if they feel a show hosted by an unapologetic enforcer of the rape culture jibes with their objectives for corporate responsibility, since sexual violence is manifestly incompatible with both "citizenship" and "health and wellness."

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