Do survivors a solid, would you? Stop pretending that people who get hurt are too sensitive.
Comedians, if it’s not too much trouble – can you please stop using me and millions of other rape and sexual abuse survivors as a punch line?
I mean, come on Louis C.K. – do you think that just because you allowed your character to be raped on your show (perhaps more than once) that somehow you could get away with comparing pedophilia to your love of candy on Saturday Night Live this past weekend?
And hey- everyone at Saturday Night Live (especially you Pete Davidson, Cecily Strong, and Keenan Thompson)- don’t for a second try to pass off that Teacher Trial skit last month as some kind of piercing commentary on Barbara Walters’ recent interview of child rapist Mary Kay LaTourneau. It was nothing more than a shameless and unapologetic reinforcement of every toxic stereotype of male sexual victimization.
Look – I’m not trying to call for a ban on all rape jokes. I actually think the “Football Town Nights” piece from this season’s Inside Amy Schumer was masterfully done (and the rare exception that proves the rule that rape isn’t comedic). And I’m not saying we should not speak of these matters ever – far from it. Rape and sexual assault thrive on silence.
What I am humbly asking is that you stop using the worst trauma of my life, and of many, many others’ lives as well to make yourselves rich and famous. Stop carelessly, selfishly and (more often than not) poorly finding ways to insert the rape I endured as a kid into your set. Stop thinking you’ll get a reputation for being fearless by trading in my trauma. You want to make fun of perpetrators? Go ahead – but please know that there are both male and female perpetrators in this world. And if you want to use rape as a punchline, don’t make fun of or otherwise belittle victims. And while I have your attention – enough with the prison rape jokes.
I know Amy Schumer (whose work I really enjoy) recently said “We’re really trying to educate, but that’s not always clear. We know what message we want to send, and we also think the premise is funny, and then we’ll go to town.” But the sad truth is that it seems none of you can even say the word rape without managing to demean or patronize survivors. And Amy? Anytime you’d really like to help, please send me an email. I’ll be happy to connect you with wonderful people who could really use your support.
So please, comedians – do survivors a solid, would you? Stop pretending that people who get hurt are too sensitive. We’re not oppressing your free speech, we’re giving you honest feedback. Don’t tell us we just need to lighten up a little, not everyone has the capacity to turn trauma into laughter. And stop thinking that even if you are a survivor, or even if you know and love a survivor, you’re entitled to be insensitive to the pain you cause to others.
Just think about what I’ve said. It would mean a lot to us survivors if you would take our pain out of your sets. It would help so many of us make much greater progress in our healing to not have our traumas used over and over again for cheap laughs. Besides, there are so many people whose actions really warrant your attention and scathing wit much more than we do.
PS – If anything I’ve written does hit home, feel free to make a donation to MaleSurvivor.org or Taking Back Ourselves – two organizations that are doing amazing work helping male and female survivors of rape and sexual trauma heal.