Last week my mother came down to visit me. My mom is pretty cool. She’s easy to talk to, she can swear like a sailor, and to date she is the only person to beat me in a game of cards against humanity. She accepts me for the terrible person I am and has no problem sinking to my level when we hang out.
That being said, there has always been one thing I could say that was sure to have her frowning and exclaiming my name in the tone of irritation and disappointment that all moms know how to do. One word that never fails in offending her and getting me in trouble. The C-Word.
It makes no sense to go on talking about a word while completely avoiding the word itself so lets just get the shock factor out of the way and say it together on 1… 2… 3… Cunt.
There we go. Now we can move forward with our mature conversation about slanderous terms for female genitalia.
I didn’t grow up in a home free of cursing. “bad words” were pretty commonly heard around my house though not wildly used by myself until my teen years. I’d picked up many colourful terms throughout my childhood but cunt was not one of them. I don’t think I even heard the word cunt until I was maybe fifteen and it was probably a good year after that before I found out what it meant. It was just a bad word. A really bad word. I didn’t think I needed to ask what it meant, I just knew it was one of the worst words you could use based on the reaction it provoked from the adults around me.
When I did finally find out what it meant it lost a lot of stigma for me. You mean to tell me that this whole time people were so upset about being called a vagina? That’s it? Vagina. It seemed silly. Since that revelation the word cunt has had a spark of humour for me. I decided I liked it. It had the silliness of ‘vagina’ but packed the punch of ‘fuck’. It was shocking, but to me it was just another animated piece of vocabulary, even if my computer doesn’t acknowledge it as a word even now. I started using. Sporadically at first and never in front of my mother. Now I probably use it on a daily basis, though my reasons for doing so have changed.
I haven’t lived with my parents for two years now. I’m not terribly far away from them but far enough that it’s not unusual to go two or three months between visits. This has improved my relationship with my parents in a lot of ways but it has completely dulled my ability to censor myself in front of them. As my mom was visiting last weekend I couldn’t help but have the c-bomb drop in front of her. She was not impressed. I felt the need to defend myself and my use of what is arguably my favourite word.
“What’s wrong with saying cunt?”
“It’s not a nice word. When people use it it makes them sound ignorant.”
“But it’s just another word for vagina. Are you offended when someone says vagina?”
She said it wasn’t the same. The context of vagina and cunt are two different things. She’s right. They mean the same thing but the intent behind someone saying vagina and someone saying cunt are completely different. Vagina is clinical and objective. Cunt is used when you want to call someone the worst thing you can think of. Why is it that the worst thing people can think to call someone is a cunt? Why is it that the worst thing someone could be is a part of female anatomy?
On the flip side penis is a clinical term and dick is an insult but when was the last time you saw a rational person be genuinely upset at being called a dick. People brush it off. No one is offended at being referred to as a dick or a prick the same way people are offended by cunt or even pussy when there really shouldn’t be any difference. One genders private parts aren’t any worse than the others. It’s the stigma that being a woman is a bad thing that makes cunt such a bad word. In a world where we still tell people they, “throw like a girl”, or that they need to, “man up and stop acting like a chick”, it’s not surprising that cunt is still considered as derogatory as it is. It’s sexist.
For some people the word being loaded with sexist connotation is why we shouldn’t use it, but for me it’s exactly why I feel I should use it. I use cunt ironically mostly. As a term of endearment in the same way close friends call one another “bitch”, “asshole”, or my roommate’s personal favourite “dickhole”. I nearly never use it in an angry context and when I do it’s mostly reserved for inanimate objects. I used to joke I was “taking it back” but the more I made that joke the more I realized that was what I wanted to do.
Upwards of 80% of incidences where I’ve ever heard cunt used it was a man using it to berate, shame, or devalue a woman. Occasionally I’ve heard women use it to tear down other woman, and once I heard a man use it to insult another man. It’s disproportionately used as an oppressive term towards women and that shit needs to stop. The best way to do that is to repurpose the c-word in the same way rappers repurposed the n-word.
We use it on our own terms and when some jerk uses it in a derogatory manner we come down on him like a ton of politically correct bricks to let the rest of the asshats know that their cunt privileges have been revoked. Then it’s use among misogynists will be confined to comments on the morally bankrupt cesspool that is 4chan where the rest of us will never have to see it.
Some people are of the opinion that rape jokes are never funny. To this I say, who slipped GHB in their drink?
The truth is rape is arguably the most despicable, and disgusting thing you can ever do to a person short of forcing them to reenact Human Centipede 2 or forcing them to watch Human Centipede 2. Being terrible doesn’t mean you can’t joke about it. Humour for many people is the best way to deal with horrible situations. Humour can also help promote a dialog about uncomfortable subject matter. Rape is a sensitive, heavy topic that can be intimidating for people to tackle. A joke made in the right way can deflate some of the stigma or in some cases cause offence to get the ball rolling. Rape is a serious issue and something that everyone needs to talk about. If it takes a few insensitive jokes to get people talking so be it.
That being said, there are right ways and wrong ways to go about making a rape joke. That’s why Amy Poehler and Tina Fey can be praised for making a rape joke at the Golden Globes and Bill Cosby’s attempt to make light of his accusations is decidedly distasteful and anyone who rewarded it with an applause should be deeply ashamed of themselves and might as well walk around wearing buttons that say “Proud Supporter of Rape Culture”.
As a humorist, a feminist, and what many call an”unfeeling and gross individual” I am exactly the person to tell you the difference between a good rape joke and a bad rape joke. I’ve compiled a little guide to help you learn how to make a proper rape joke that will inspire nervous laughter rather than outright rage… hopefully.
Understanding Rape Culture
Before you can even think about cracking wise about sexual assault or any other sensitive subject you have to understand the gravity of the matter. Lately you’ve probably heard the term rape culture tossed around a lot but do you know what it means? Do you even believe it is an actual thing?
Rape culture is a term used to refer to what is perceived as a normalization of sexual violence by society due to attitudes about gender and sexuality. Rape culture is things like victim blaming, misinterpreting of consent, and ignoring sexual harassment. Rape culture very much exists and it’s bad for everyone. It not only dehumanizes women but perpetuates myths that men can’t be victims of rape and that men are testosterone fuelled animals ruled by their libidos. Rape culture doesn’t benefit anyone except sexual predators.
If you don’t understand an issue then you have no business making jokes about it. People can tell the difference between pleading ignorance for comic effect and just being straight up ignorant. If you honestly believe that sexism doesn’t exist, that some people are “asking for it”, that rape itself is funny, or that people have no right to get offended when you make a rape joke, then you need to quietly remove yourself from society and stop holding back the rest of the human race.
Assessing Your Audience
Now that all of the jerk offs have stopped reading to focus on their angry comments the rest of us well meaning and educated, but twisted, sons of bitches can get back constructing our informed and tasteful quips about sexual assault.
Before you break out your carefully crafted rape joke, take a moment to take a look around you. Where are you? On public transit or at a women’s shelter? Maybe you should put it away. Who are you with? Co-workers or complete strangers? It’s probably best to hold off. Are you at home surrounded by your closest friends? Go for it.
When it comes to making offensive jokes of any kind you have really pay attention to those around you. There is a time and a place for politically incorrect humour and it can take a lot of years of missteps before you can learn to identify when the time is right. Be warned, more often than not the time is wrong.
Other things you should take into account include: How politically charged is my joke? Are these people smart enough to realize that it’s a joke and I’m not a heinous human being? Is my joke a reference to a specific incident? Has enough time passed where it’s acceptable to joke about this incident?
That last one is very important. If the shock of a current news story is still hanging in the air it’s usually better to not go there. Take the other night for instance, I was watching Team America: World Police with a couple other people. During the opening sequences when terrorists attack Paris I stopped myself short of saying “They can’t all be cartoonists” because it was a terrible, terrible, thought to have and I didn’t need to spend the rest of the night averting my roommate’s judging eyes. Even sharing it now I’m not sure how it’s going to go over.
The truth is there’s no way to know for sure if your joke will be received positively. You have to play it by ear and use your better judgment. If you’re immediately met with appalled looks from those around you it’s best to start apologizing profusely.
Can You Get Away With It?
I hate being exclusionary as much as the next guy but there are simply some people who are allowed to make rape jokes and some who should never utter the world in a public place. I don’t make the rules.
I was born with a vagina so I already have an advantage when it comes to kidding around about sexual violence. Gentlemen, this is one the few things in life where you’ll find your penis is actually a hindrance. I know, I know, “but that’s misandry”, sorry guys but for the same reasons it’s more acceptable for a black guy to make jokes about black culture it’s more acceptable for women to make jokes about rape culture. Our day to day lives tend to be more impacted by the threat of rape then yours so we get more leeway to talk and joke about it. Same goes for domestic abuse, and the C word.
Being a guy doesn’t mean you have to give up rape jokes all together. Some of my favourite rape jokes have been made by men. You just have to know how to approach it. How comfortable people feel around you is a big part of it. If you’re a relatable and nonthreatening kind of guy you can probably pull it off. If you’re more on the aggressive side it’s gonna be more difficult. If you’re joking about yourself getting raped you should be in the clear but if you’re joking about doing the raping you may want to approach with caution. The exception to this bit is that you’re naturally so creepy that it becomes an uncomfortably kind funny but only when in a room full of people, never in a one on one situation. If your a comedian you’re pretty much golden as long as you don’t pull a Daniel Tosh.
If you have ever committed rape, threatened rape, or been accused of rape it should go without saying that under no circumstances should you ever make a rape joke. It’s not cool and I hope the authorities have been alerted.
Being Conscious Of Who The Butt Of The Joke Is
Above I mentioned Daniel Tosh. If you can remember he got in some hot water a couple years back for a joke he made at the expense of a heckler. During a bit where tosh voiced his affinity for rape jokes a woman in the audience cut in “Actually, rape is never funny” to which tosh responded “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by, like, five guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…”
Also as mentioned earlier Amy Poehler and Tiny Fey made a pretty great example of a well executed rape joke at this year’s Golden Globes.
The is one big difference between the two jokes. No it’s not the gender of the person telling them. The biggest and most important distinction between them is who the joke was mocking. The target of Poehler and Fey’s joke was the rapist where as Tosh’s was the, hypothetical, victim. Poehler and Fey’s goal was to mock and shame those who commit rape in this case accused rapist Bill Cosby who, lets be honest, is almost definitely guilty. Due to statute of limitations he’ll likely never be found guilty in a court of law but when 20+ women come forward with eerily similar stories and nothing to gain, over the course of decades there’s little doubt that he did it.
In Tosh’s case he made a very poor choice in how to take down a heckler. Heckling is a shitty thing to do, but you know what is an even shittier thing to do? Telling someone you hope they get gang raped in front of an audience for interrupting you. There were a hundred responses he could have given, even other rape jokes he could have made, like: “tell that to my rapist”, or “clearly you’ve never seen Sixteen Candles“. He could have followed up but he picked the absolute worst joke by making her a subject of sexual assault.
Accepting The Repercussions
When the incident happened it became an argument of comedic freedom vs common decency. As a comedian you should be allowed to joke about what you like. I firmly believe that. No topic should ever be off limits. That said, when you pick a topic like rape you do it knowing it’s a trigger topic. You know that you’re joke is going to shock and offend people and that’s why you do it. You want someone to be offended whether it’s for publicity, to start a dialog, to make a point, or because you just like to shock people. To fire back at the offence an audience member has taken, as if they have no right to be offended, is wrong.
For example: On my last period, which some of you may know was a particularly bad one, while eating dinner with my roommate I got into a monologue about having a hysterectomy. The gist was if I just had it removed than I wouldn’t have to worry about cramps anymore and would save so much money on feminine hygiene products. Of course the only way to have medic care cover this would be if I had cervical cancer. Exactly how long would I have to stand with my lady parts in front of the microwave to get cervical cancer? My roommate’s face became twisted in an enduring cringe; when I asked her why she exclaimed, “you’re joking about cancer!”, and that was a totally reasonable response. I share this with you now knowing that it has the potential to offend people with cervical cancer or with loved ones who have cervical cancer. Knowing that If someone leaves me a comment that “cervical cancer isn’t funny” and that I’m “an insensitive asshole” I brought that upon myself and I don’t not deserve it.
You do have freedom of speech. You have the right to say what you like but other people also have to right to tell you when they don’t like what you’re saying.
It’s been over a week since Sons of Anarchy aired it’s final episode and I’ve finally made my way through the five stages of grief. I think I’m finally ready to talk about it.
I guess over all I’m pretty satisfied. Wendy and Nero took the kids and ran like I’ve been telling them to do through my tv screen all season and Jax finally made his meeting with Mr. Mayhem. I do however have three tiny problems with how everything ended.
My first gripe is with the inevitable deaths of the rest of the club that were sure to come in the weeks following the finale. As a representative of SAMCRO you can’t just rampage through the streets taking out major crime bosses, corrupt (former?) cops, and IRA leaders in broad daylight and not expect repercussions to fall on the rest of the club after you check out. The whole club is going to be murdered. Probably by the two remaining irish kings. We all know how forgiving the IRA can be.
At this point Jax couldn’t possibly believe that anyone would buy that he escaped his club’s mayhem vote. With all the shit they’ve pulled the last few seasons no one has any reason to believe anything they say especially when it comes down to protecting their own. What good did letting Jax commit suicide do anyone anyway? Either way he’s dead but now the club hasn’t made things right for Jax’s unjustified murder of Indian Hills’ club president. By sparing them the “burden” of taking out their brother he’s set them up to be ostracized by the rest of the charters.
Secondly what the fuck was with all the last minute Jesus symbolism? I think we’ve established over the course of the last seven years that if Jax Teller is anything it is not a christ like figure. He’s not a messiah or the chosen one. He doesn’t even know how to turn the other mother fucking cheek. He’s a vengeful, trigger happy, criminal. Other than the hair beard combo he rocks in the first few seasons I’m not seeing a whole lot of similarities.
The last thing, and what bothers me the most, is what’s been running through my head since Jax ended up like a bug on a semi’s windshield is how upset I am that I didn’t get to see it. I know it sounds like small potatoes but does no one else feel that there’s something wrong with the fact that this show, that has never shied away from showing us the brutality of outlaw life, decided to skimp out on us on the last shot? Kurt Sutter made me watch him bite his own tongue off but wouldn’t show me Jax Teller meeting his inevitable bloody end? I didn’t need to see the crash but at least give me a little more than a blood pool for aftermath to drive home that this man is not someone you should want to emulate. I’m already peeved that Jax got to go out on his own terms. After all the violence and suffering he’s responsible for he deserved a lot worse. And that brings us into today’s topic.
For all the horrible shit that Jax did over the course of seven seasons no one suffered the brunt of it more than the love of his life, Tara Knowles. Somehow a large portion of the show’s viewership is able to over look this and cast Tara in the role of bad guy. This has become a surprisingly common theme lately in a lot of series. We’re given an anti-hero or a villain as a protagonist and end up hating the people in their lives that hold them back from their less than ethical activities.
3. Tara Knowles – Sons Of Anarchy
I might be the only person I know who was not sad to see Jax die and that’s because I’ve never forgot what we knew from the very beginning. He confessed to Nero in the final episode, “I’m not a good man. I’m a killer and a criminal” but it seems that most people were awfully quick to over look that fact. For all of the good intentions Jax had in the beginning that made you route for him he never followed through on any of them. He got swallowed up by gang life and became everything he wanted to stop. He became Clay.
We might believe that deep down Jax is a good guy but all of his actions, particularly since taking the gabble, say differently. If you forget about all his good intentions and look at what he is on paper it’s plain to see that Jax Teller is a terrible person. He’s been a criminal, a gun runner, a drug mule, a murderer, and a manipulator who’s done nothing for the woman he’s supposed to love but ask her to jeopardize her career, cheat on her repeatedly, leave her to take care of his children, and rope her into staying with empty promises of getting out of the gang life. Despite all this somehow Tara is the bitch for reasons I have yet to understand or even pin point. I think I once had someone site that “she’s not Gemma” to which I say: duh. The implication is either that she wants to be Gemma, which all of Tara’s actions and words contradict, or that they can’t handle more than one strong female character in a single television show.
Ironically SOA, a show about an outlaw biker gang that devotes a quarter of every episodes run time to bromance is also one of televisions major exporters of strong female characters. Tara Knowles is no exception. She’s an educated woman, a protective mother, and a support system for her boyfriend and later husband. She thinks for herself, makes her own decisions, and doesn’t let Jax push her away or push her around.
She’s a mother fucking surgeon people. She’s put years of her life and a fuck ton of money into a career in saving lives which she foolishly risked time and time again to help out Jax and his club. She takes care of the kids and tries to protect them from the brutal life their father is involved in and his bat shit crazy mother. Shit man, Abel isn’t even her child and she took over the role of his mother no questions asked. She even went to prison for helping the club and she never wanted this life in the first place. She ran away to Chicago before the beginning of the series to get away and when her psycho, DEA agent, exboyfriend forced her back the the only reason she stayed was out of hope that Jax would leave the violence behind like he promised her every fucking episode.
If Tara has a flaw it’s that she fell in love with Jax and stuck around too damn long. Maybe faking a pregnancy and miscarriage in season 6 to get her and the kids away from Jax and Gemma seemed a little crazy and outrageous. I thought so too at first, but the more I mulled it over the more I realize how desperate she was to save her sons from a miserable life and a grisly death. She was willing to sacrifice her relationship with the love of her life in order to do what was best for her kids and herself. Considering the hardened, blood thirsty criminals she’s dealing with I’d say her actions were justified especially when you realize the end result was her being viciously murdered by her mother in law.
3. Skyler White – Breaking Bad
I get that at first Walter White is a very sympathetic character. Buddy has cancer for fuck’s sake. He gets into meth cooking to provide for his family. As shitty of a thing to do as making drugs that seriously screw up lives is, I get why he did it even if I don’t approve. He’s fallen on hard times, but Skyler is in the same financial situation and troubled marriage as he is yet no one is able to afford to slip any sympathy her way. Maybe she doesn’t have cancer but she does have a lying, criminal husband and that sucks too.
From the start she was pegged as a nagging wife; which in all fairness she is. Skyler White is not the kind of woman to beat around the bush. If something is bothering her she’ll come right out and say it. When the show starts Skyler is clearly the one in the driver’s seat of the family unit. Chances are she’s been there for a while. Walter starts out as what I can only describe as a massive pussy and a lot of the show’s fans assume that it’s a the result of years of marriage to what must be an emasculating harpy. It’s far more likely a result of the beating life has laid down on him.
Skyler’s perceived nagging is a direct result of Walter distancing himself from her. He’s keeping something from her and rather than pussyfoot around it she chooses to confront him which for some reason is seen as an overreaction. If my significant other started sneaking around and staying out half the night damn straight I’d want to know what the fuck they’re up to. She’s distrustful and she has every right to be considering he’s lying to her, cooking meth, murdering drug dealers, and keeping his cancer from her.
Most people seem incapable of cutting this woman, who acts as primary care giver for her special needs son, any slack but are more than willing to ignore the growing abusive behaviour Walt exhibits towards her. He manipulates and threatens her, forces his way back into her home, and there was that one time he sexually assaulted her, which I guess the collective audience somehow ended up taking a simultaneous bathroom break during considering how much that’s been addressed.
Then there’s the apparent issue of hypocrisy on her part when Skyler decides to break bad herself which is apparently far worse than the original hypocrisy committed by her husband when he go into the drug game. It’s perfectly acceptable to watch family man and chemistry teacher Walter turn into a morally stunted drug lord but for his wife to go from home maker and moral compass to money laundering accomplice is not. Plus at that point Skylar had already been made an unwilling accessory by spending the drug money her loving husband never bothered to tell her was drug money.
Maybe had more focus been given to Skyler’s development, viewers wouldn’t have been so quick to make fan pages devoted to hating her or maybe Anna Gunn who portrays her was right about and it’s really about most Skyler haters “own perception of women and wives. Because Skyler didn’t conform to a comfortable ideal of the archetypical female”. Why else would there have been such an onslaught on social media in reaction to her weight gain?
1. Lori Grimes – The Walking Dead
If you ever needed proof that I was a masochist than look no further than my useless plight to defend Lori Grimes. Whenever she comes up in conversation I feel this wrenching in my gut that forces me to try to justify her choices to others. It’s frustrating because I confess that I too hate Lori Grimes. The fault of this is more on the shoulders of the shows botch writing than it is the character herself. I honestly didn’t hate her until we’d nearly reached the end of the second season. Yes, she made some bad decisions but I can sympathize with why she did.
People’s number one grievance with her is that she’s a “slut”. It’s weird because when the roles are reversed no one seems to give a shit. Mad Men‘s Don Draper didn’t have an affair but multiple. He’s a serial adulterous and everyone has his back. We don’t hold our male characters to the same moral standards as we do the female. We still expect our female characters to uphold this outdated idea of virtue. That they should show more restraint than their male counterparts. Stay faithful to their husbands no matter how shitty they are treated, even if for all that woman knows she’s a widow.
Yes, she was sleeping with her husbands former partner and best friend 2 months after she believed him to have died but lets just take a breath and get something straight. She thought he was dead. She’d been told he was dead. I can’t say that sex would be my go to grieving tool but who am I to judge? It is something of a special circumstance after all. Lets take a moment to imagine we’re in her zombie blood covered shoes.
You’re marriage is unravelling when your husband gets shot and goes into a coma. The zombie apocalypse breaks out. Your husband’s friend, and likely yours too, shows up telling you that your husband has been eaten and that you have to get your shit and leave with him now if you don’t want the same to happen to your kid. You’re in a state of grief and shock over the end of your whole world and the loss of your husband. You don’t know how you’re supposed to survive, how you’re supposed to protect your kid, or if you’ll even survive the next week. This friend takes care of you and your son. He provides for you, protects you, and genuinely does care about you. Being this mess of emotions and despair can you say that if your friend, who’s been your rock through this whole mess, made a move on you that you wouldn’t bone him? I’m pretty sure I would and if that makes me a slut so be it.
The second biggest problem people have with Lori is that she never knows where her son is. In all fairness neither does Rick. She might be a shitty parent but so is Rick and people don’t hate him for that. Is it that Rick is off doing “man” things that gets him off the hook? Where as Lori’s (the woman’s) number one job should be child rearing?
Then there’s the wanting to abort her baby thing. Having a baby in the middle of the zombie apocalypse is the worst idea I’ve ever heard. With the added drama of “who’s baby is it”, I whole heartedly believe she shouldn’t have thrown up those Plan B pills. Especially considering one candidate for fatherhood turned out to be a complete psycho.
Then there’s all her dramatic mood swings which really just come down to sloppy writing. Like her flip flopping on Rick killing Shane (another often sited reason for Lori hatred). She implies she wants him dead and then gets mad when Rick takes him out because why? It makes no sense for her to be so torn up about it. They were involved so I get that she would morn but within reason. Mother fucker tried to rape her, killed Otis, threatened Dale, tried to kill her husband and was generally just out of his damn mind. Most people on the Walking Dead are pretty unlikable but the annoying qualities that start stacking up amongst their main female characters like Lori and Andrea are just proof that writers of The Walking Dead‘s first few seasons had no idea how to, or interest in, writing believable female characters.