The punch-lines that leave scars
Comedian 'Dapper Laughs' holds hands up and apologies for 'rape jokes', but will another comedian be quick to throw a punch?
After a campaign went viral after only a few hours, nearly 70,000 offended, petition-signing people were left rejoicing at the news that ‘comedian’ Daniel O’Reiley hung up the misogynistic hat of his alter ego ‘Dapper Laughs’ and admitted that his crude statements to an audience member stating that she was “gagging for a rape” went too far. It was as a result of comments like this that nearly 68,210 people petitioned to cut Dapper Laugh’s ITV show ‘On the Pull’ and succeeded with grand results – “Dapper is gone” said the comedian – a victory! But is this really such a profound victory, when the rape culture that comedians like Dapper Laughs perpetuate is actually far from forgotten?
Not wanting to sound like a killer of all things joyous, but where were these 68,210 knights in shining armour when Jimmy Carr cracked the old “struggle snuggle” line? Dapper Laughs was not the first comedian to use rape as the subject for a sleazy laugh, and it is clear to see that Dapper Laughs will not be the last to partake in such distasteful and disrespectful attempts at being ‘funny’. While almost 70,000 people lost the ability to use their jaws when they hit the ground simultaneously as the footage of Dapper Laugh’s shocking jokes about rape were released, many lost the function of their ears too, missing the clear parts in the video in which cheers from the audience and calls such as “go on” can be heard. Encouragement if ever I saw it. And rape culture really is encouraged, not just by twisted comedians such Dapper Laughs and the fallen-from-grace Frankie Boyle, but by mainstream presenters such as Jimmy Carr.
In a recent survey of males aged between 16 and 25, 100% admitted to having used the expression ‘rape face’ to describe someone. It may not seem as bad as describing rape as a “struggle snuggle” like TV favourite Jimmy Carr did, but by using the word ‘rape’ in such a casual way it becomes normalised when even children are joking about rape on a regular basis because they know no better. Without question, it diminishes and demeans the severity of rape, and when according to academic research, 25% of women are victims of rape or sexual assault at some point in their lives, is it not distasteful to be using the term ‘rape face’ as if it is the same as describing someone’s face as ‘creepy’ or ‘weird’?
Many would argue that this is yet another shining example of feminist hysteria; that rape culture isn’t encouraged – no-one would defend the act of rape and no-one would encourage friends to rape, right? Wrong. Nowadays for the young male population the unavoidable objective at most parties is ‘pulling’ a girl in order to showcase their precious ‘manhood’ and prove to their friends that they’re manly as can be. But just where is the line drawn between ‘pulling’ and watching a girl get drunk to the point of no return and then going in for the kill?
Of course, the entirety of the male population aren’t rapists, but upon a closer look it’s worrying how this kind of “watch a girl get drunk and then smash, bang, have a go” culture is encouraged, to the point where it’s shaken off as a man’s natural instinct and a girl’s fault for getting too drunk. Even the language used around girls at a parties is disturbing – lads don’t talk about ‘making love’ anymore (forget getting to know each other too, that’s as out of fashion as a mullet), it’s ‘bang’, ‘destroy her’, ‘give her one’ – none of which send out the message of respect and consent. Everyone knows: it’s not rape if both are consenting adults. But the wrong message is sent out to young people: that if a girl gets herself into a position where she is blind drunk and does something she’s probably going to regret (let’s be realistic here), it’s her fault for getting that drunk, not the person who took advantage of her.
Ched Evans, former Sheffield FC player has been in the centre of the controversy recently after being released from prison having served half of his five-year sentence for rape. Thousands have petitioned for him to not be reinstated as part of the team after carrying an unconscious 19-year-old woman into a hotel room and raping her while she came in and out of consciousness, however many have defended the footballer’s right to return to his previous position and earn thousands of pounds a year for being talented enough to kick a ball in a straight line. “He’s done his time – let him get on with his life”, is the general consensus from those (including Judy Finnigan) who support Evans’ right to return to the team. While it’s fair to argue that those who go into prison deserve to be rehabilitated and gain second chances, what exactly does it say about us as a society, as a country, if we allow a rapist to return to a six-figure salary and continue being an idol for young boys? It doesn’t teach them anything other than that if you get a good lawyer, you can get off having served half your time, and when all of that is over, lucky you – you’ve got your salary and fame back! Not really the message that we need to send out to young people about the severity of rape.
With comedians flooding televisions with boundary-breaking topics for the sake of a shock laugh or two, rape culture has become something that is being perpetuated in the media, to the extent that victim blaming is becoming common. Not just rape jokes but even threats of sexual violence are now seen as ‘humour’, which has been shown in a study where 17% of females admitted to having threatened to rape somebody as a joke. Although this blanket of safety for those telling rape jokes is slowly starting to lift, the message sent to young people about sex and rape is still in dire need of changing. The stance society now has on what is funny and what is not is being shamelessly ‘raped’ by dark humour, and it’s time people saw the light.