As you now know, comedian Daniel Tosh thinks it's funny to joke about rape. And apparently, lots of other male comedians and their fans think it's okay too. And, since Comedy Central hasn't canceled Tosh's show as of this writing, I'm guessing that the network thinks rape is fair game, too. We've already heard too much about the insulting notion that men are inherently funnier than women. Now, it appears, women can be funny too -- as long as their the victims in rape jokes. Seriously, America, is this really happening?
It's possible to chock up rape "humor" and the fact that there are more rich and famous male comedians than women to inherent differences between the genders and the superior male grasp of what is funny. Or, here's a wacky idea: We could blame institutional and societal sexism. Funny men are heroes in our culture -- the only way to possibly explain men with such aesthetics as Woody Allen and Will Ferrell getting to play romantic leads while funny women like Rosanne Barr struggle to even be on the sidelines. Then when one male comic makes an over-the-line sexist, racist or homophobic joke, all the other male comics, their male producers and their male audiences laugh and defend him. Boys will be boys, right? They ignore the hostile climate that their "humor" creates, that they are throwing gasolene on the hatred that fuels rapes and young gay kids killing themselves and all sorts of sadness and evil.
But the comics and their defenders get all huffy about free speech and insist you can't be funny without being insulting. First of all, no one is stopping you from joking about women being physically and sexually brutalized. We're just suggesting you're irresponsible pond scum for doing so. And second, if you're such great comics, you'd think you could find another way to be funny.
With that, here are five women who are incredibly funny and (as far as I know) have never suggested rape is funny.
Lizz Winstead @lizzwinstead
The founder of the Daily Show and author of Lizz Free Or Die even tweets about abortions, for crying out loud, but still does so with more dignity in her little pinky than Tosh could ever dream of.
What's the definition of madness again? Repealing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result?
— Lizz Winstead (@lizzwinstead) July 12, 2012
Katie Halper @kthalpsThis progressive comic and writer actually stands up to sexism in her stand up routines.
Guys, Daniel Tosh was heckled. And that's the real crime.
— katiehalper (@kthalps) July 12, 2012
Wanda Sykes @iamwandasykes
As a black gay woman, if she went the route of Tosh, she'd just be insulting herself. Fortunately, Sykes humor is infatuating, not inflammatory.
Watching the results of the French presidential elections with my wife... pretending like I give a shit.
— Official Wanda Sykes (@iamwandasykes) May 6, 2012
Kate Clinton @KateClinton
The doyenne of the lesbian comedy scene makes jokes about women-on-women action that manage to respect BOTH of the women involved.
For Old Times Sake:"Some women can't say the word lesbian... even when their mouth is full of one."
— Kate Clinton (@KateClinton) July 7, 2012
Loni Love @LoniLove
Loni brilliant insights about race and weight and gender norms and love open our minds to the world around us (and ourselves) as opposed to turning us on each other.
Shout out to Mitt Romney speaking to the NAACP right now looking like a high school principal...
— Loni Love (@LoniLove) July 11, 2012
Plus I'd love to give some honorary "men who are awesome enough to be women" praise to some male comics, holdin' down the humor without holding down the opposite sex: Baratunde Thurston, John Fugelsang and Elon James White. Your "Feminist Dude" membership cards are in the mail, including some great manscaping discounts at a salon near you.
I know this isn't everyone. Who's missing from my list? Add your ideas in the comments section.
Follow Sally Kohn on Twitter: www.twitter.com/sallykohn