The End of the Offensive Era

By Jamie Curtis on December 17, 2012

*TW: There is mention of rape in this article.

Jokes about rape. Memes made within the hour of someone’s death. Racism, misogyny, and homophobia are prime topics of gut-busting jokes so long as we are “just kidding” when we say these things.

In such an incredibly desensitized culture, where is the line that divides humor and hostility? How much insight about our society is spotlighted when a woman jokes about “her place” being in the kitchen making sandwiches? How many racist jokes need to be told before we recognize that they are not harmless; they are representations of our collective prejudices. There is truth in these jokes. Not truth in the subject matter, not truth in the stereotypical portrayals of these people, but truth in the fact that you are laughing, you are acknowledging these stereotypes, and truth in that you are reinforcing ugly biases. You are perpetuating harmful and false notions that people have worked for years to destroy.

Being “edgy” and “offensive” also helps encourage disgusting behaviors and concepts like rape culture. Heroes such as Daniel Tosh and Seth Macfarlane have donated much of their time and effort to help preserve Comedy’s Finest Topic and make sure you know that if you aren’t laughing, You’re Just Too Sensitive. Blogger Allyson Pelphrey put it best when she stated that “If you have the PRIVILEGE to view rape as such an abstract concept that it could be funny to you, then good for fucking you. Not all of us are so lucky, and we’re sure as hell not laughing,” and this concept should be applied to all things that that really should not be joked about, which includes any form of discrimination.

Do not tell me to lighten up. Do not tell me I am too sensitive. Your jokes are not offending me, they are simply disgusting me. Your standards for humor are unintelligent and basic. Do not defend your shitty jokes by blaming me for Having a Bad Sense of Humor.

Sometimes things are serious so sometimes we need to take things seriously.

There are two outcomes from making jokes about offensive topics and stereotypes:

1. What are you are joking about personally applies to someone and they get to mentally relive the torment that is represented in your jokes.

2. Everyone laughs, and this solidifies the incredibly dense system of internalized discrimination that our society built.

You are not “just kidding” when you say these things.

My name is Jamie Curtis and I am studying psychology at San Francisco State University. I am interested in women's issues, philosophy, psychology, and politics. I am a feminist, and I enjoy reading and discussing things of that nature as well as political/social theory in general. And I love writing and basking in the sun and drinking coffee!

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