My former Stranger colleague Lindy West, now a standout staff writer at Jezebel, wiped the floor with comedian Jim Norton on "Totally Biased," comedian Kamau Bell's FX talk show, where West and Norton were invited to talk about whether rape jokes—specifically, jokes where the joke is basically, "Ha ha, let's all rape that lady"—can be funny.
West makes possibly the most disdainful F-U face of all time (and takes the most dismissive sip of water ever) after Norton suggests that the solution to their disagreement is that they just make out.
(West, who wrote about this on Jezebel in response to "comedian" Daniel Tosh's OBVIOUSLY HILARIOUS suggestion that a female audience member who didn't like his rape jokes should just be gang-raped by the male members of the audience, responded, in short: Dude. That's not actually a joke.)
Anyway, the whole thing is worth watching, if only to get to the end where West makes possibly the most disdainful F-U face of all time (and takes the most dismissive sip of water ever) after Norton suggests that the solution to their disagreement is that they just make out, but here are some highlights.
On whether comedy clubs are, in Bell's words, "inherently hostile spaces for women": "Well, they are dark basements full of angry men, so on a fundamental level, it's not an awesome place to be. And people are drunk, and there’s just a dude on the stage saying, 'Hey, wouldn’t it be hilarious if everyone raped that girl? And then everyone laughs, and then, by the way, sometimes everyone does rape that girl, and that’s a thing that really happens in the world ...
"It's actually really trivializing to say that mocking and exploiting a rape victim’s trauma to her face—because there will be women and probably men in that room who have been sexually assaulted—is the same thing as like making fun of a thing. It’s not the same."
On Norton's question, "Isn't joking that a woman should be raped just like making a joke about the Holocaust? Should certain topics be sacred?"
West says: "It’s not like you know that a third of your audience are Holocaust survivors who are being silenced because you’re saying, 'Hey, don’t talk about the Holocaust because nobody wants to hear about it, and hey, you were probably kind of asking for the Holocaust.' That is not built into our culture. So it’s not just making a joke about a thing. It’s about contributing to a culture that perpetuates that thing."
On whether we should all be cool with rape jokes because, ha ha, people still make racial jokes:
"I’m sure 60 years ago there were some hilarious jokes about black people and comedy was way more overtly racist [then], and it’s not a coincidence that life was way more hostile and dangerous for black people—not that it’s great now—but do you literally think that’s a coincidence?"
It's 16 minutes long. It's well worth watching. Go watch it.