Open Letter to Tyler Oakley and Daniel Tosh
Dear Tyler Oakley, Daniel Tosh, and like-minded dudes,
You don’t get it.
You just don’t get it.
In theory, you’re not incapable of getting it - after all, not making light of violent crime is a fairly low rung on the decent human being ladder - but you have made it clear that you not only don’t understand, but that you don’t want to understand.
Tyler, you characterized the following comment as “verbal ignorance.”
Fucking cunt, I’d take her into the back alley and show her what I’m made of. She won’t even see it coming.
Daniel, your response to a woman who heckled you at your gig with a remark about how rape jokes aren’t funny was the following.
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?
I have to question if you have even a basic grasp of the definition of the word “rape.” You seem to understand it nebulously as a Very Bad Thing, a Mean Thing to Do, but also as Not the Worst Thing That Can Happen.
Rape is violence. Rape is the weapon with which men wield absolute superiority over women. As women, we walk through life with the understanding that we are never quite safe from it. Wear the wrong thing, say the wrong thing, walk the wrong way home, and we could find ourselves trapped and brutalized for male pleasure. We live in a society where a woman can stagger to a police station bleeding underneath her miniskirt and be told that by wearing that miniskirt, she was asking for it.
Even if women take every necessary precaution - even if we train ourselves in self-defense, travel in groups, walk on well-lit streets - we are never safe. We take a crowded bus home from school and our bodies are groped and manhandled. If we confront our attackers, they tell us that it was an accident, that they didn’t mean to, and that we need to calm down. We walk home from school in broad daylight, wearing jeans and sweaters and sneakers, and we’re regaled with whistling and cat calling.
To be a woman is to live with the constant threat of violence. And to be a man is to have the privilege of laughing at that threat.
Tyler, you accused a woman who acted out in violence to protect another woman from the threat of rape of “not thinking things through.” Forgive her for not thinking things through on a dark, empty street, late at night, when the men behind her were threatening to drag her sister into an alley and fuck her against her will. A broken nose is such a high price to pay for threatening to violently rob a woman of her autonomy and then laughing about it.
Daniel, you told a paying customer that if five men held her down and tortured her, it would be funny. In your apology, you said that there are awful things in the world, but you can still make jokes about them. You would stand over a woman being tortured, acknowledge the inherent awfulness of the act taking place, and then laugh about it. As if that would make it better. As if telling a woman to lighten up and take a joke isn’t adding to the violence and disrespect she lives with every single day.
You don’t get it.
There are those who would say that, since you are men, you will never get it. I think that, to an extent, that’s bullshit.
You may not know what it is like to be a woman. But surely, as a human being, you can see that your mothers and your sisters are fighting a constant battle against violence perpetuated by men. Surely you can see that by undermining the seriousness of their struggle, you are actually contributing to that cycle of violence.
You would never rape a woman. You would never hit a woman. You would never cat-call a woman or grope her on the subway.
But somehow, in your minds, it’s okay to joke about doing those things.
Joking won’t make the threat go away. Joking will make the woman who gets her ass pinched on a crowded subway smooth her skirt and leave, shaking in her boots, without reporting the assault, because it’s “no big deal.” Because it’s “just what men do.”
Understand the gravity of rape. Understand the gravity of sexual assault. Understand that, as a man, it is your birthright to not experience rape culture. Understand that every woman in your life bears the cross of being subject at any time and in any place to brutal sexual violence.
Stand with your mothers and your sisters.
And stop laughing.
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