I used to have a storytelling show about sex, and I stopped doing that show because on three separate occasions men told stories about raping women. As funny stories. By the third one, I was like, holy fuck. Goddamn. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t bear to face that there are lots of men who not only think the times they raped women were funny, but also think other people are going to think the times they raped women were funny. The third time a guy told a rape story was the last time I did that show. I liked the guy who told that story a lot. He was a cook at the retirement home I worked at, and I remember on Thanksgiving we all worked 12 hour shifts, being treated like total shit by customers, and this guy made us all Thanksgiving dinner at his place after. I only got a Thanksgiving because of him. He was from Detroit, and we talked about missing the Midwest, and Wu-Tang, and joked around a lot. I had a lowkey crush on him.
Then at my show he gets up onstage and says that he lost his virginity “running a train” on a girl at a party when he was 13. I just flipped. I stopped doing the show, I was already deep in my dysphoric, dissociative state, living in that hippie house, high as balls, crying a lot, hating my body in such a terrible, urgent way. I just hated losing him as a “good guy” so much. He felt like the last one.
It’s so unfair that feminists get called man-haters and no one levels the accusation of “woman-hater” at men the same way. Because how do you look at guys not only participating in rapes but then telling the story like the person they raped was a punchline and inviting other people to laugh at the punchline in retrospect, and not be like, ok. Men hate women. I get it. I don’t think coming to that conclusion is me hating men. I think that’s me making sense of men’s behavior.
I actually don’t think men hate women. I think men don’t believe women exist. On some fundamental level unless you force them to deal with a woman having a subjective experience of the world, they’ll slip into treating women like lumber to cut down or limestone to mine. It’s like how white people used to debate whether black people felt pain to the same extent whites do. (And I guess if you survey doctors a lot of them still believe black people are less sensitive to pain.) The assumption that other people are having a fully human experience of the world is reserved for powerful people.
All men don’t believe women exist? Whatever, if you’re a man who consistently treats women like full human beings then I know you can hear me out and not request that I coddle you. I believe in you, Saintly Good Dude.
The first guy who came on that show and tried to tell a story about raping a woman is a local comedian. He tried to tell his story about going on a walk with a woman, and them making out, and her saying no, and he said, “No bitch you’re going to.” It was a rule on that show you couldn’t say the word bitch. He gets to that point in the story and I stop him and say, “You’re telling a story about raping someone.” He got so livid, and started talking about how he was raised by a single mom, and would never hurt a woman, and how could I say that to him? I had such an open, trusting heart when that happened that I had a whole discussion with him, and tried to hear him out, and released the podcast with an accompanying blog post earnestly questioning whether I had handled the situation correctly. Instead of doing the RATIONAL thing which would have been releasing the podcast with the title, “Dude Tells the World He Rapes Women.”
Anyway, that comedian has hated me ever since. Hates me for identifying that the story he chose to tell was one in which a woman said no, and he replied, “No bitch, you’re going to.” He made that choice, made the choice to rape her, made the choice to tell strangers about it, while being recorded by microphones, and I am the bad person in the equation.
He runs a show on the east side with another comedian who I like a lot. I do particularly well, on a consistent basis, with the crowd at this show. They’re rowdy, they’re there to have a good time, we vibe really well, it’s cool. But Rape Story dude has twice now brought me onstage by saying, “I don’t like this woman and she knows why.”
Then I get up there and crush it.
The first time it happened I heard him say, “I don’t like this woman and she knows why” and I took a deep breath and walked to the microphone and said, “Mike (not his name) has beef with me, I don’t have beef with him, it’s not that deep.” And then started telling jokes and crushed.
The second time, last night, I heard him do that intro again and I thought, wow, seriously, you don’t remember what happened the last time. You don’t remember that this crowd loves me, and you looked weird and crazy for being hostile to such a lovable woman. I took a deep breath, and I walked to the mic, they loved me, I crushed, and that was that.
Afterwards, I got in a headspace of, wow I have had to weather some exceptional bullshit from standup. Just crazy, over the top shit. Definitely having men tell me, to my face, about times they raped women like they were telling funny stories was the worst situation standup ever put me in. That was honest to Christ, such a dark, dark thing to witness. Worse than the time I complained about all the rape jokes I had to hear on a consistent basis to a reporter and had the pack of male comics in that scene decide I was evil. Evil, a fascist, unfuckable- funny that being called ugly is supposed to hurt as much as being compared to Mussolini. I am SO tired of being labeled evil for literally just asserting that raping people isn’t ok! That’s not evil of me! I’m not actually a combative or unhinged person. I’m actually pretty peaceful and level and I want to get along with people and I want to hear people out. Just not about times you raped someone!
Have you ever watched the movie, “The Act of Killing?” I highly recommend it. It is the definition of triggering. It’s a documentary in which right wing paramilitary leaders reenact the ways they murdered communists in Indonesia. They just laugh, and have fun, and put on a little show about the details of how they tortured and killed people. Getting told those rape stories was like my personal “The Act of Killing.” Like, ahhhh, this is how the guy who raped me in college tells the story to his buddies. This is why all those male comics love telling rape jokes so much. It’s very simple. They think rape is very funny. They think putting me in my place as an object is very, very funny. This is not deep or difficult. This does not require a PhD. I don’t need to dig around deep in their psyches about how their relationships with their mothers went down. It’s funny that women think we’re people but also we’re weaker and men can rape us. It’s a stupid joke.
Looking at that darkness has taken so much time away from me. Trying to figure rape culture out, trying to figure out how to educate them out of it, trying to figure out a way I can fit into mainstream society and also not get raped again. I was making it all a lot deeper than it needed to be. I don’t have any control over whether I get raped again. I can’t educate men into not being rapists. I didn’t create this situation, I’m not going to be the one to fix it. If I designed existence, this wouldn’t be a feature. But there you go, I’m not the designer.
So instead I’m just going to keep crushing. I’m just going to tell better jokes. People who rape are like animals, and not majestic animals, they’re like ducks. Male ducks like to gang rape. It’s that lizard/bird brain approach to being alive- not really being able to process that female people exist and are also completely, fully human. Whatever. Their duck karma, not mine. Quack quack.