Man Is An Island? Really?

30 Jul

If you know me in real life then you probably know that this week has been especially crazy for me and I’ve barely had time for any internetting at all.

In the last few weeks I’ve gotten the three comments below.  I have a history of taking comments that I think are particularly noteworthy and turning them into posts of their own.  So it shouldn’t be such a break with tradition that I present these responses to this post:

As a largely neutral (albeit male) bystander to all this – can I say while I do sympathise with some of the major points of modern feminism I can’t help but feel that the way a lot of advocates go about voicing their concerns (angry, overly aggressive) does little to help further the cause.

I’m going to say something that may be considered controversial here; while I agree that the act of rape is a terrible thing and we should do all that we can to prevent it – why though has there been a feminist backlash against Daniel Tosh who merely joked about it ? This just highlights in my opinion the over-reaction that does the cause little to no favours. Nothing should be off limits; not rape, not pictures of the prophet Mohammed, nothing. The idea of placing restrictions on what is merely articulated (despite offence by some) is deeply unsettling. Humour btw has always has a branch that draws from the morbid in order to get people to think – to sterilise it in order to cater to one group of society is plain wrong.

Heh, interesting how any reply that actually stimulates thought ‘awaits moderation’. But one word responses that just agree with you pass through the net. It’s sad that you can’t facilitate open and fair debate on here – with any criticism of feminism (of which there are some believe it or not) or a point that you personally made just ignored. But hey, your blog your rules I guess. Enjoy your bubble.

Now, it is true that I don’t approve all comments.  I think I’ve trashed a total of 2 comments since I started writing.  Both insinuated that I was just an ugly expletive in need of a good lay.  As there is enough of that rubbish on the internet I think of deleting those comments as taking out the trash, sue me.  Otherwise I approve comments or present them on their own.

When I got these I was overcome with such a heated anger that I knew there had to be a response of some kind but couldn’t think of exactly what to say, which is why I let them sink in my inbox for so long.

So, Man Is An Island, here are the responses you so desperately longed for.

First of all, the first thing I always say to people when they make a generalization about a group (advocates of feminism are angry and overly aggressive) is ‘Are you a part of that group?’  No?  Well, then you have no right to claim that that group is any particular way because you clearly have no first hand knowledge.  I am a member of that group and can tell you that (most of the time) I’m neither of those things.  For example right now I’m in bed in my underwear quite peaceably eating yogurt covered pretzels.  Yum.

I will continue to talk about eating pussy and the necessity of it as a political act. That’s a joke, sort of, but I really, really want to champion women with my comedy. Sexism and misogyny still run rampant in our world and in our culture and it will be the death of us if we don’t seek to counter it in our own lives. So I do focus on women a bit more in my comedy, because I think that destructive sexism is sort of the final frontier in prejudice. It would seem that racism and homophobia are closer to extinction than is sexism.

Rob Delaney (via fleish)

Did that sound angry or overly aggressive?

My second issue with this comment is that it was in regards to a comic strip which showed someone who was trying to be calm and was pushed and pushed until ze got angry.  In my personal opinion the only way to misread that is to do so intentionally.  Everyone gets angry when pushed.  Feminists get pushed until we get angry (probably the same way you would if I belittled a subject you were passionate about for a while) and then pointed to and and taunted “See!  I knew it!  You’re just one of those angry, overly aggressive feminists!”  I won’t even touch on the implicit insinuation that angry women are unattractive, a thing no woman should ever be.

The second comment refers to Daniel Tosh which I thought I made my thoughts clear about here and in a way that more specifically addresses MIAI’s concerns here.  I don’t think people shouldn’t talk about rape.  And talking about a subject often leads to joking about it so I don’t think people shouldn’t make jokes that acknowledge rape as a part of our world.  I just think that rape jokes shouldn’t encourage people (and I happen to know from having a little brother that a good portion of his fans are teenage boys who, to use a very overused word, are impressionable and may just be starting to experience women as lovers and partners.

Humor attracts ‘morbid’ people because people need to work through stuff.  My uncle runs a funeral home and he often tells the story of a funeral where a beloved patriarch died and at the funeral the family sat around telling jokes and doing impressions instead of crying over the casket.  Bad stuff happens and humor helps you through it.  Fact.

However, it’s one thing to make a joke about rape that is really funny and could potentially help someone, and it’s something else entirely to see that someone is offended by your joke and respond by saying to a room full of men and women “Wouldn’t it be really funny if she got raped right now?” because it wouldn’t.  It’s not even a joke really.  And if it were a joke it certainly would not be a joke that contributes positively to the world.

So talk about rape.  Make interesting observations about rape culture in our society and make them funny so people remember them and tell them to their friends and little brothers and encourage thought and consideration.  Daniel Tosh didn’t do any of that so I think his set was in poor taste and he should be educated about what taste is.  I find him to be boring as hell on TV so I don’t think he’s a good comic.  Those are separate issues and neither means I think he should be censored or dragged kicking and screaming from the airwaves.

As for the final accusation.  I’m facilitating open and fair debate right now.  Lay some thoughts on me.  Anyone but Man Is An Island, please.

10 Responses to “Man Is An Island? Really?”

  1. Kati July 31, 2012 at 2:07 am #

    Well-said. I have left several comments here and most have had to “await moderation.”

    Along with what you’ve said, there’s also the matter that rape is exceedingly common (although many people forget that) and in basically ANY audience, several rape survivors are sitting there. (Yes, folks, it’s pretty much a given that several people you know have been raped or sexually assaulted. Even if they haven’t told you, even if they’re a close friend, even if they seem “okay” and “normal.”) And it’s generally a very traumatic and very private memory. So sure, people have the “right” to make cheap, stupid jokes about it. But they ought to recognize that their jokes will remind several people of one of the worst experiences of their lives, and will often make them feel alone and belittled. Like everyone else, they went out for a night of laughter, and instead they’re chuckling nervously, trying to look normal or steady their breath or push back the memories or wipe away the tears or stop seeing fire.

    Is that really what you (rhetorically speaking) want to do, just so you can feel edgy, like you’re exercising your free speech? It costs the speaker basically nothing to abstain, but it means so much to many audience members.

    And before someone brings up the “what about murder [or whatever]” distraction… I haven’t had a loved one murdered (although I’ve known a few people who were murdered), so I can’t speak for how they feel. That’s not the discussion right now.

  2. Alex July 31, 2012 at 8:30 am #

    I’d never censor anyone, but it doesn’t mean I won’t argue with you or be offended. And don’t try to tell me to shut up when I’m offended.

    • Alex July 31, 2012 at 8:33 am #

      Don’t know how you respond so calm and cool to all this. Good job taking the high road

  3. BroadBlogs http://broadblogs.com/ August 1, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    Thanks for pointing out that his response sounded angry even as he criticized feminists for sounding angry.

    And really, who should be angrier? Women who are raped or comedians who are criticized?

    Sometimes people who haven’t walked in our shoes can’t relate to what we experience. A couple black guys — two of my favorite students — wondered aloud in class why women didn’t like sexist jokes. They didn’t mind sexist jokes aimed at men. I asked how they felt about racist jokes. Now that, they didn’t like. I told them that racist jokes aimed at whites didn’t hurt me. The categories of “white” and “male” seem to be too privileged and powerful to be vulnerable and hurt.

    Because these two guys were now able to relate from their own experience, they got it. I’ve found it much harder to get people who have never been harmed — white males — having more difficulty getting it because they have nothing to relate the hurt to. Thankfully, many do.

    • Female Gazing August 1, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

      Great comment. Let’s not forget all the men who experience rape or sexual abuse though.

  4. Man is an Island. August 2, 2012 at 10:29 am #

    Hello there again. I realise that having a different opinion has not made me welcome here ( “Anyone but Man Is An Island, please.”) But I think you do me a dis-service by still not publishing my comments and posting them here in one big block to give the impression of one continuous message. My intention was never to cause aggro (” I was overcome with such a heated anger”) but merely to engage in a discussion; I realise that my views are not entirely feminist friendly but I tried to be as polite and considerate as possible. You can imagine then when a week+ went by and my comments were still not made available that the impression I got was that you simply didn’t want to respond to anything that challenged your views. (because those that did agree with you were instantly visible)

    If you are open to some discourse which you have contended; I would be more than willing to counter-respond to some of the points you made in this post:

    “First of all, the first thing I always say to people when they make a generalization about a group (advocates of feminism are angry and overly aggressive) is ‘Are you a part of that group?’ No? Well, then you have no right to claim that that group is any particular way because you clearly have no first hand knowledge. ”

    I based my opinion on the majority of feminists I have met and have spoken to. But granted, I do not have first hand experience. But if we were to follow this logic, then no one can have an opinion on any group that they are not distinctly a part of. (you for instance could not have an opinion on men, the patriachy etc.) Indeed this also discounts the possibility of someone being a group but still being misinformed.

    “I don’t think people shouldn’t [sic- should ?] talk about rape. And talking about a subject often leads to joking about it so I don’t think people shouldn’t make jokes that acknowledge rape as a part of our world. I just think that rape jokes shouldn’t encourage people (and I happen to know from having a little brother that a good portion of his fans are teenage boys who, to use a very overused word, are impressionable and may just be starting to experience women as lovers and partners.”

    There are alot of bad things in the world; murder, fraud, drug abuse etc. Should we not talk (and even joke?) about them in fear of acknowledging them ? Forgive me, but that seems like putting one’s head in the sand. Even if we don’t talk about bad things, they still would happen. And I also don’t that by not talking about something, would prevent the youth of today from doing it. That seems to be advocating ignorance as a means of prevention, I think instead a greater emphasis should be placed on compassion to our fellow man and intelligent decision making.

    “However, it’s one thing to make a joke about rape that is really funny and could potentially help someone, and it’s something else entirely to see that someone is offended by your joke and respond by saying to a room full of men and women “Wouldn’t it be really funny if she got raped right now?” because it wouldn’t. It’s not even a joke really. And if it were a joke it certainly would not be a joke that contributes positively to the world.”

    There are two sides to this story which I think you’ve missed. The woman that Daniel Tosh was addressing was openly heckling him over making a rape joke in the first place. When you take it on yourself to shout your opinion in that setting (despite being offended) you are ruining the show for everyone else in the room and putting off the stand up comedian from his performance. Comedians have ALWAYS reacted strongly against hecklers for this very reason – which is why Daniel Tosh said what he did. So both in effect in the wrong.

    **I’m hoping in the spirit of fairness this response will be visible. I bid you good day madam.

    • Female Gazing August 2, 2012 at 10:46 am #

      1) I don’t think that people shouldn’t talk about rape. I think people should talk about it until the cows come home. You clearly misunderstood that major point.
      2) I wouldn’t call what the audience member did “heckling”.
      3) a lot is spelled “a lot”.
      4) From the lips of a comedian

      • Man is an Island. August 3, 2012 at 8:40 am #

        Well first I’m going to thank you the response. I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree on some of the things discussed but I do appreciate the dialogue.

        1) I think I have misunderstood your point in fairness; so you think that rape should be talked about but not the subject of jokes that encourage? I guess I just think jokes like that don’t encourage to be honest. I mean if I say ‘I could murder a piece of cake right now’. I don’t see how that could be misconstrued that I’m advocating it.

        2) I don’t know about that, I think it was heckling personally. But even if your definition differs from mine, the person in question was still angrily disrupting the show. Most comedians come down quite harshly on people that do that – it’s not particularly nice (and two wrongs don’t make a right after all) but the alternative is to allow one or two people to spoil an entire show for everyone else.

        Anyway thanks again for taking the time to respond to me, and if you ever find yourself in London, I’ll buy you a coffee or something. 😉

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] continuation of the discussion about rape jokes (blonde jokes, fat jokes, race jokes etc) I bring you another wonderful […]

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