On Rape, Rape Jokes and Why People Like Kidd Kraddick and Daniel Tosh Make Them

Sorry to leave you again and then suddenly swoop in with something important to say. Got a little busy with something (I’ll explain later), and neglected this baby, even though I hit 100 posts recently. I’ll try to pop in more frequently – in fact, I’ve promised a few people a couple of recipes, so expect that soon, as well as some cross pollinating on a couple of other sites.

But what dragged me away from an horrible All-Star Game (really, AL? Behind by 8?) tonight was something I’ve been ruminating on all day, in between cutting up grilled cheese and pouring sippies of milk: Why people think rape is funny, or at least OK to joke about.

But first let’s back up. A local (yet nationally syndicated) morning radio guy, Kidd Kraddick, began discussing date rape. His sidekicks, Kellie and Al, chimed in, and all agreed that (according to accounts from the Dallas Observer and other listeners) there is an epidemic of women claiming to have been “roofied” and raped.

The Observer relates it thusly:

Another woman in the studio related her own recent roofie experience, her first. She was on vacation, only had a couple of drinks, then suddenly became very ill. She took a cab home and sat with her roommate in the bathroom for several hours, vomiting.

“That’s a failed roofie. If you remember everything, that’s a bad roofie,” Kraddick told her, finally seeming to get to his real area of expertise. Roofies don’t make you violently ill, he told her. “I’m not putting you on trial for the roofie thing, I’m just asking. … I mean, the point of a roofie is for a guy to take advantage of a girl.”

That may happen sometimes, Kraddick conceded, but not very often.

“It is a very dangerous drug and it is a felony to drop it in someone’s drink, but you talk to girl’s your age and there’s just a whole army of guys running around just roofie-ing girls. They’re not getting drunk on their own, getting sick, they’re getting roofed left and right.”

Every girl has a roofie story,” Big Al agreed.

He also said, and I will bold for emphasis, this:

  “I would love to have a built in excuse every time I get so wasted that I don’t remember anything.”

Later, after being called out by everyone from listeners to the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center, Kraddick insisted that  “I’m sure that actually getting roofied is a horrible and traumatic event and it’s disrespectful to the real victims to use it as an excuse for a wild night.”

Well, let me explain how three people with open mics but a remarkable lack of education about rape statistics are wrong, first. According to the American Prosecutors Research Institute, false outcries of rape actually only account for two to eight percent of all reported rapes. That’s false outcries period, so you have to figure that roofie claims are an even smaller percentage.

So no, not an epidemic. Not even a wave. Not even a coffee klatch.

And Kraddick and his coworkers mocked something that is actually sound advice. Something Dallas Police Chief David Brown has actually encouraged – keeping an eye on  your drinks, and being wary of strangers near them. And no, that doesn’t put the onus of rape prevention on the woman. Men also need to be aware of the fact that the drunk cannot consent to anything. They can’t sign a contract, they can’t drive a car, and they can’t legally consent to sex. Best way to avoid being accused of rape – even if you think it’s just after sex regret? Don’t have sex with the inebriated.

The crux of the issue is this: As a group, we need more education about rape. What constitutes rape? How do you protect yourself? How can you avoid being labeled a rapist? Kraddick had an opportunity to educate. Instead he chose to mock.

For the record, and in case you’re wondering, everyone should keep their eyes on their beverages and only take drinks directly from a server or bartender. And don’t have sex with drunk people. If she or he is that awesome, get a number, put him or her in a cab, and call with an offer of Advil and Gatorade in the morning.

But I also do not think that any of the three really sat down – because nobody does – to think about what it means to be raped by an acquaintance, or by someone perhaps that you’ve been flirting with at a bar. Having volunteered at rape crisis centers, and knowing many rape victims, I think people are unaware of how sad, sick and horrible date rape is. For one, people don’t run around talking about being date raped. But let me make it clear: All rape is horrid, but with date rape or acquaintance rape, you  have the added hell of not having just your body abused, but also your trust. You begin to doubt the company you keep. Some will not believe you. It will be hard to get your case taken seriously legally, and you even begin distrusting yourself, second guessing. “Maybe I did lead him on,” “Maybe I did kind of consent.”

Yes, there are probably women who have falsely called rape. But statistics bear out that this is actually an anomaly. It is far MORE common for a woman to feel ashamed and not report at all – for fear of just the response Kraddick espoused on air. But what is more disappointing is that Kraddick has a daughter. She and her peers – both male and female – deserve better advice than this. Rape isn’t just having sex with someone who says no. It’s also having sex with someone who can’t say yes.

But then we have the Daniel Tosh incident, wherein Tosh – who is renown apparently for his super funny rape jokes – began telling one at a show. A female in the audience took offense, and said out loud that no rape joke is funny. Tosh then pretty much asked the entire audience to picture this woman being gang raped.

Yes. Gang raped. Haha, wouldn’t it be funny if a bunch of guys raped her?

He then followed up later with the most sad excuse for an apology ever, and then kind of took it back by saying, “(sic) the point i was making before i was heckled is there are awful things in the world but you can still make jokes about them. #deadbabies.” Point of order, Mr. Tosh. “Heckled,” makes it sound as if she was a drunk frat guy yelling the punchlines to your jokes. No. She was a woman who had a sense of humor up to a point (as evidenced by the fact that she was OK with Dane Cook), but found rape jokes beyond the pale. And then she said so. And then you invited the audience to picture her being gang raped.

But why are rape jokes so funny? Why do so many find the thought of someone being forcibly penetrated so gosh-darn funny?

I do not know.

But I do wonder – and please bear in mind that I am sitting in my pajamas at 10:30 at night writing this so I don’t exactly have data to back it up, just a thought that has flittered – if we can’t point some (not all, of course, because that doesn’t take into account the fact that some people are just assholes, as well as other environmental issues) of the fingers back at now decades of insistence on abstinence-only education. Could it be that our insistence on not teaching sex within the parameters of a healthy adult relationship, understanding cues and even legalities, is coming back to haunt us in the form of people that think rape is a myth, and good for a guffaw?

Again, I have no data, just musings. I do know that many shy away from the subject because the idea of rape is ugly. Tosh claims he jokes about it because some things are so dark you have to laugh. In truth? I think that the lack of education about what is rape, who can rape, and who can be raped has resulted in yes, discomfort about the subject. But it’s a discomfort not just because of the dark subject matter, as Tosh insists. It’s a discomfort borne also of the fact that when we start parsing down the meaning of the word, visualizing it, nobody ever wants to entertain the possibility that they may have been too aggressive in getting sex from a date, and that it may have been rape. Nobody wants to have to look at their behavior under such a microscope. So we don’t talk about it. We joke instead.

For those of you who think such things are funny, I’m not going to trot out the tired, “What if it was your wife/mom/daughter/girlfriend/auntie” line. You’ve heard it, and Daniel Tosh jokes about his sister getting raped. Clearly, the thought doesn’t bother you, nor does it bother him. If you still think such things are funny after reading all of this, then we’re just going to have to agree we have very, very different ideas of humor.

But I think mine is more clever. Anybody can joke about rape, even Dallas DJs. But the truly witty comedy doesn’t require the cheap laugh. So remember that when you’re shelling out money to see someone who can’t be bothered to write decent and smart material, and has to resort to a rape joke or a dead baby joke.

The only envelope Daniel Tosh is pushing? The one holding your paycheck.


One Comment

  1. THANK YOU. Rape jokes never have been, and never will be funny. I suspect that most of these people(if not all of them) that make rape jokes have never had a sister/mother/daughter/girlfriend that was a victim of rape.

    I was raped several years ago by a man I went on a first date with. He asked me to come into his house to watch a movie. We kissed, and he proceded to try and further his “affections”. I refused, and he forced me to give him oral sex, and raped me. I did not report it. Why? Because it doesn’t take a genius to know how hard it canbe to prove rape in my situation.

    It does anger me to think of the women that DO “cry rape”. BUT, don’t insult and hurt the rest of us by laughing oer the subject.


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