February 17, 2012

Apparently, I’m a tool

Posted in Current Events, Popular Culture, Rape Culture, Uncategorized at 10:51 pm by sacetalks

This past week I’ve been over-exposed to the rotten deal that’s handed to women in this world I live in.

In the USA this week, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) held a hearing on contraception and whether it should be covered by insurance. Who was at that hearing? A table full of men. While contraception is important to men, who typically pay the bills for contraception like birth control pills and IUDs? Women.

Foster Friess, the billionaire backer of Rick Santorum’s campaign (if you don’t pay attention to American politics, these would be two Republican men who are key players right now in the up-coming American federal election), insinuated that all those women who are angry about their exclusion from the above mentioned hearing should simply stop being sluts. Then they’d have free contraception! Right.

Chris Brown performed at the Grammy’s despite being a convicted offender of physical assault, giving the age-old message that if you’re an offender of violence against women, most people will forgive you in a heart-beat.

Fox News commentator Liz Trotta blamed feminists for the rise in reported sexual assaults within the US military, the rise in costs for supporting the survivors of those sexual assaults, and the overall decline of the American economy. Again, offenders of violence against women were given the message that it’s okay, don’t worry about what you’ve done, we’re going to blame the person you did something violent and horrendous to. No, wait, we’ll blame the feminists. You can sleep at night while the survivors of your decision to force sex struggle with nightmares and flashbacks.

If you’re reading this thinking, “But we live in Canada. Things are much better here.” They’re not. Sexual violence is a major problem in our military, we struggle with our own issues of reproductive justice, and everywhere violence against women is minimized, trivialized, and dismissed.

Today, I stumbled across a cartoon on the Facebook page of Sonic 102.9, a radio station in Edmonton. The cartoon depicts Elmer Fudd from Looney Tunes encountering a women taking a photo of herself. She’s posing with puckered lips. The next slide, he shoves a rifle into her face and shoots.

Where’s the funny?

Cartoons are supposed to be funny, right?

Anyway, this cartoon sparked a heated debate between those who found the cartoon depiction of a woman having her head blown off hilarious, and those who found it disturbing. It was swiftly removed from their page.

My position is that the cartoon trivializes violence against women, minimizes the real problem of violence against women in Canada, and reinforces the double-standard expectation for women to look attractive, but don’t be a try-hard.

But you know what, I’m a tool.

I forgot to mention men. Men experience violence too, actually more violence than women. My bad.

I’m also a tool, apparently, because I don’t laugh at every single picture, cartoon, comic, one-liner, online blog that was created to be a joke. Apparently, we are expected to find every joke we encounter funny, or else risk the threat of being a radical, over-sensitive, tool.


Not everything that’s created to be funny, is funny. Some jokes are just delivered poorly. Some jokes get old and lose their relevance. Some jokes are functions of a larger social system that is legitimized through the joke. For example, rape jokes. Rape jokes like, “It’s not rape… it’s surprise sex,” minimize and dismiss situations of actual rape for those perpetrating and those who have survived sexual violence. People, in real life, actually go into women’s rooms and start taking off the women’s clothes while they’re asleep. Men wake up after being passed out to men behind them, sexually assaulting them. They wake up to the shock and horror of sexual assault. It’s not surprise sex at all, and framing the statement, “It’s not rape…it’s surprise sex,” as a joke actually takes away the voice of those people who have been sexually assaulted while unconscious, asleep, passed out, or those who were shocked to discover that someone they know, love, and trust is willing to ignore the obvious: I (male/female/trans; young/old; drunk/sober; sexually experienced/never had sex) don’t want you to do that.

I take pride in the fact that I can think about the content I am exposed to online, and determine for myself whether it is actually funny, or in fact is a reflection of misogyny, racism, homophobia, ableism, fatphobia, etc.

If that makes me a tool, then I’m proud to be a tool.

But, I am sad that many people laugh at these jokes. Please, be a tool like me.

By Meagan Simon