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After Daniel Tosh Gang Rape “Joke,” WMC Collaborates in New Web Video “Rape Joke Supercut: I Can’t Believe You Clapped for That"

July 16, 2012

The Women's Media Center announces the release of a new Web video, “Rape Joke Supercut: I Can’t Believe You Clapped for That.” The video examines the role of "rape humor" in the national dialogue about sexual assault, and is a response to controversy over comedian Daniel Tosh's onstage "joke" to a comedy club audience member that it would be "funny" if she "got raped by, like, 5 guys, right now."

“Rape Joke Supercut” was created as a collaboration between The Women's Media Center, Pop Culture Pirate, Fem 2.0 (a project of Turner Strategies), and Women In Media & News. It juxtaposes clips of comedians playing rape for cheap laughs with footage of stand-up comedy that works as effective commentary on rape as a social ill. 

"If free speech permits a comedian to suggest a woman in his audience should be gang-raped, then it certainly permits us to object, and to ask what message this sends to survivors or to perpetrators," said Julie Burton, President of the Women’s Media Center. "Tosh's comment was just one extreme example of pop culture's dismissive treatment of sexualized violence, which desensitizes audiences to enormous human suffering. Internet outcry is encouraging, but popular media needs to push back too."

Also today, The Women's Media Center has an op-ed on CNN.com, "When Rape Jokes Aren't Funny," examining the controversy around the Tosh incident, as well as "rape humor" generally.

According to the Centers for Disease Control's 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 1 in 5 American women and 1 in 71 American men are rape survivors, for a total of over 23 million survivors. In addition, 12 percent of female victims and 28 percent of male victims are first raped before age 10.

Says Abigail Collazo, editor of Fem2.0, "It wasn't a rape joke—it was a rape threat. Tosh used power and privilege to suggest violence against a specific woman.  People laughed because in a rape culture"—one where rape and other sexualized violence is tacitly accepted—"rape is funny. That's why Daniel Tosh's actions and subsequent non-apology were so outrageous."

"Media outlets are mischaracterizing the feminist response to Tosh: the takeaway shouldn't be that 'rape jokes are never funny.' The great George Carlin proved they can be, when he used the image of Porky Pig raping Elmer Fudd in a joke that dismantled the culture of victim-blaming," says media critic Jennifer L. Pozner, Executive Director of Women In Media & News. "Humor can be used to expose injustice, as Carlin liked to do, or to reinforce it, as Tosh did by hostilely targeting a female audience member. And Tosh's comedian pals saying she asked for it? That's not comedy, that's abuse."

To view “Rape Joke Supercut: I Can’t Believe You Clapped for That,” visit http://womensmediacenter.com/tosh-video .

To read "When Rape Jokes Aren't Funny," visit http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/16/opinion/burton-bruns-tosh/index.html .

The Women’s Media Center was founded in 2005 by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem. The Women’s Media Center works to make women and girls visible and powerful in the media and level the playing field. It does this through media advocacy campaigns, media monitoring for sexism, creating original content, training women and girls to participate in media, and connecting women experts with the media. The Center has offices in Washington, D.C., and New York City.

For more information, contact Cristal Williams Chancellor, Media Relations Manager, cristal@womensmediacenter.com or 202-642-2962.