Oh, Lindy West…you assumptive, condescending, bitter woman, trying to speak for me. Stop.
Stop using words like “victim” and “trivializing” in your high-pitched “Oh-Em-Gee” voice. Granted, you’re upset about rape, and the social commentary that goes along with the harsh, stark reality that some men (and some women) cannot control their sexual urges, allow their inner treachery to surface and, in turn, physically harm others. I get it. I get it. I GET IT!
What I also get is that you haven’t spent too much time in what you called “basements full of angry men.” You apparently haven’t watched your peers stumble through material, digging deep into what makes them (and us) tick, figuring out what evokes emotion, turn it around, and talk about things that need to be discussed in the hopes of finding the humor. Thank you, Jim Norton for shedding light on the fact that we need to do this as a people.
I have spent that time, and do so in those basements. I am a comic who has material about rape. I am a woman who is a survivor of sexual assault. Yet, shockingly (maybe to you), I do not let that fact consume me. I am not a victim. And blah, blah, blah, semantics…Don’t speak for a “people” and paint a picture like you are the voice of a “nation,” equating racial inequalities and the air-quoted, “hilarious” jokes that were told about them like it is the same thing.
No. You are not my voice. My voice is speaking right back at the men who tell those jokes, mock them back in turn, or, if I find them funny enough, figure out how to work out their premise so that the material actually works. I could get on a soap-box and use one word like “dick” as backlash against the male-dominated establishment. Wah wah wah. Or, I could continue working every single day as a comic to mold my voice and represent strength of character.
Yes, words are powerful. Words like rape, victim, and silenced. Stop trying to silence comedians with your crying that it is unfair to people who have been through terrible, horrific ordeals. Everyone knows rape is horrific. If anyone leaves a comedy club after hearing a rape joke and goes out to rape someone, that person is very ill. Rape jokes are not the catalyst for kids sexually assaulting each other. Violent tendencies, anger, and the inability to control one’s urges are. Oh, and bath salts. Scary.
Stop speaking in a manner that boasts the idea that you know anything about what it takes to find humor in the things that hurt. If we never speak about them, if we all follow your lead and stop talking about the things that matter to us, then all of us comedians (you know, the men and women working on this craft) will have to resort to fart jokes and tripping a lot to make people laugh. And we won’t get very far at all. Thank Jim Norton and the comic who gave you the opportunity to capitalize on their humor. They worked hard to get where they are.
I could take a lesson from you and tell you to shut up. Or I could let you whine for a while and go back to trying to say something of substance…on a stage…with a microphone…by myself…with my own material. And no one else’s.
Don’t worry. Stand up comedy will survive you.
Christine Meehan is a comedian in New York City and is the producer of Akin To Rape.