dudes declare sexual assault funny as long as the victims are men

Thanks to Jill and the Feministe crew for giving me the opportunity to guest blog this week! I’m excited to be here. I usually write over at saltyfemme.com about queer, feminist, and Jewish things. I recently saw a video that left me disgusted and really confused. Hopefully you smart Feministers will chime in and help me work out some of this stuff. It’s humor so this warning may seem strange – this video is potentially triggering.

I was wary of posting this video for fear of directing more traffic to it. When I saw how many people have already watched it (it has nearly three million views on YouTube and counting), I figured it might be worth the attention. “Bro rape” has achieved mass popularity among (mostly) white college students for reasons I don’t entirely understand. Offensive stuff aside – and I’ll get to that in a minute – I actually just don’t find it funny.

The video is supposedly a parody of Dateline NBC’s programs about catching pedophiles. The Derrick Comedy group, made up of a group of NYU grads, write and perform pretty typical white college student humor, involving alcohol and sex jokes and always tinged with tones of sarcasm and self-mocking.

For those of you who don’t care to watch, here’s the opening bit. After a pretty gross fake rape scene, the fake news announcer jumps in (camera frozen on a “bro” being raped by a fellow “bro”):

It’s a type of rape that’s gone overlooked for decades. And it’s risen 44% in the last year. I’m talking, of course, about bro rape. What is a bro? A bro is an 18-24 year old male who wears Birkenstock sandals, watches Family Guy, plays ultimate Frisbee, and wears an upside-down visor or a baseball cap with a pre-frayed brim. You know, a bro. For every suburban house party, four bros will be raped, and only one in seven bros will tell their boys what happened the next day. As a result, most bro rapes go unreported.

The skit continues with the fake news team luring “bros” on the internet to come to “Chad’s place” to do dudely things. The reporter then rifles through each culprit’s bag, finding dudely items like gamecubes, beer, Axe deodorant and always a big black dildo, at which point the bro is considered caught. If someone can fill me in on why this is so funny that three million people have watched it, please do.

The skit ends with another fake rape scene. News flash to privileged college boys: rape is REAL. Men have been and continue to be victims of sexual assault. This is a pretty ugly contribution to the stigma men face around being rape victims. It mocks and silences male survivors of sexual assault, all of whom deal with the same crap as female victims plus all the feelings around not being real men because real men, straight men, don’t get sexually assaulted. And here’s why this video is silencing male survivors of assault – a group of college boys can make a video mocking male sexual assault that millions of people watch and find hilarious and not feel guilty about it because sexual assault against men is somehow not real. It’s almost as if the reason this sort of comedy is allowed is because it is so far from the realm of possibility. Everyone knows it’s not funny to mock sexual assault against women. Men, of course, are fair game. The reason it’s so funny is because it could never happen, right? A straight man could never rape another straight man. Right, except that most of the perpetrators of sexual assault against men are heterosexual. All of this humor rests on the fact that it is mocking something the creators deem impossible. This is dangerous territory for three million viewers.

Is it possible that they are mocking their own masculinity as a performance in and of itself? The opening lines from the newscaster I blockquoted above are some of the funniest lines in the skit, I think. It is a pretty impressive feat to have a group of boys who possess an overly heterosexual masculinity and style be able to step back and mock themselves. But are they simply reasserting their heterosexuality by mocking the idea of male sexual assault? I’m also curious about what makes this college humor among (mostly) white students. There is also be a bizarre race thread in this skit – why are most of the bros white (with one exception) and all the big dildos black? Mocking rape survivors, racism, homophobia, hints of sexism. And huge popularity with little criticism. What am I missing here?

Crossposted to saltyfemme

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49 comments for “dudes declare sexual assault funny as long as the victims are men

  1. QLH
    July 30, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    Not finding it funny.

    Then again, I generally don’t find rape to be a laughing matter.

    Aside: I like “To Catch a Predator,” because it’s the most mainstream thing out there shining a big bright angry spotlight on pedophilia. Maybe if they had spoofed it differently, catching a different kind of predator – – vampires or something, trolling the Net for blood donors? – – I’d be laughing. (Bad example, but you see what I mean.)

  2. kate
    July 30, 2007 at 11:39 pm

    “It’s almost as if the reason this sort of comedy is allowed is because it is so far from the realm of possibility.”

    Oppressors make fun of the oppressive acts, just to make sure everyone else is on board and knows if they speak up or out, they will be likely mocked as well.

    “why are most of the bros white (with one exception) and all the big dildos black?”

    Because they are priviledge, racist suburban white males acting out and affirming their privileged status amongst each other. Also notice that the ideal pseudo victim must bear the stereotypical symbols of being anti establishment, left wing — reflecting humanist, compassionate values as opposed to machismo.

    It is interesting in that that group of persons is apparently as threatening to them as the myth of the hyper sexed black man or the aggressive gay man.

    They are doing what they’ve been taught by their parents; to see anyone other than themselves — white, middle class, establishment, as lower than. They’re just modeling for their future careers in business and society.

    I’m sure they’ll do very well. Its nice to know that the college system is sticking to the old standard. Can this be used to stop the fundies from screaming that colleges should be off limits to government funding? Can they be shown that college environs haven’t moved any further than greater society?

    Can we then get their money and run with it?

  3. July 31, 2007 at 12:17 am

    Well, I was only able to put up with about a minute of that video, so no, you’re not wrong, its really not funny. And I like to think of myself as someone with a broad sense of humour.

    One of the first things that caught my attention as problematic, besides making jokes about rape, was the fact that the first perpetrator they showed was a Black man. If a bunch of white privileged college guys are gonna make rape jokes then they should keep the jokes to themselves.

    Honestly, maybe the rest of this video was funny, but I just don’t find rape jokes hilarious. Period. Rape jokes just trivilize the crimes themselves, and sexual assault is already too rampant in our society, and too many people are already too quiet about it.

    Also, I don’t know if anyone here remembers that horrible Josh Hartnett comedy 40 Nights? Near the end, after Josh’s character ties himself to his bed on the last night of his masturbation abstinence to prevent himself from jerking off in his sleep, his ex girlfriend, angry about his rejection of her, comes stealthily during the night and has sex with him, while he is asleep with a hard-on and tied down so he can’t push her off him when he wakes up. And this was supposed to be a romantic comedy. I was one of the only people I know that found this scene disturbing, and also the way the movie just cast off the issues of this blatant rape and sexual assault of a man by a woman. It was SO not funny.

  4. Mandolin
    July 31, 2007 at 12:30 am

    I watched the first couple minutes.

    Charitably, I wonder if they’re pointing out the ludicrousness of these arguments when they’re used about women. “If they didn’t want to get raped, they wouldn’t walk around wearing…” and so on.

    Clearly male victims are silenced, and that’s a real problem. But I think that the lack of theoretical arguments that exist to *support* male-on-male heterosexual rape expose some of the stupidity of the patriarchal arguments that try to shift responsibility for other kinds of rape onto the victims.

    But there still remains the uncomfortable humor… it’s not all about making fun of the rapist mind set. It definitely seems to be making fun of the raped man, too, otherwise that first scene wouldn’t be included. I think your analysis is right. But the effect of exposing some patriarchal lies for their idiocy is an interesting byproduct of this unfunny, and ultimately misandrist skit.

  5. kate
    July 31, 2007 at 12:37 am

    You were braver than me electric, I wouldn’t even click on the link, there’s just no way that I can bring myself to watch it.

  6. July 31, 2007 at 1:18 am

    Well, I don’t know, I can understand why people are offended, but I definitely thought parts of it were funny. In part, I just thought it was really well-acted. I especially liked the middle guy, with his inarticulate sputtering, clearly afraid but still mustering some self-rigtheousness. “I like to smell like an ax…that’s not my fault.” I actually that was a pretty good parody of the types of men you see on that dateline show. The guy was good, too, with his exuberant entrance in his underwear, so excited it took him a long time to realize what was going on.

    I didn’t really get the dildo, but there were still some funny parts with it, like the last guy pouring axe body spray on it. “Did you pour axe body spray on this?” “Like half a can.” I also thought it was funny when the middle guy was wagging the floppy dildo defiantly at the two people. “You, sir, are a bad man. And you…are the friend of a bad man.”

    Okay, the rape scenes. I’m not sure they were making fun of rape so much as they were the way rape, at least man-on-man rape, is usually portrayed. I can’t think of any actual examples offhand, but I feel like I know I’ve seen it before in movies, almost always set in prison, and it’s almost always that angle, so you can see the anguish in the man’s face. Which can be powerful, but it can also be a cheap and bathetic gimmick. Put differently, I don’t know which has a worse effect, making light of male rape as this video (maybe) did, or suggesting, as teh usual portrayal of male rape does, that it only in prison, and only to wrongfully convicted white men (again, I’m sure there are scenes or treatments that are better than that). So, again, I wonder if they meant to make light of rape, or of the usual representation of rape in movies and such.

    I think the dark side of the video is that I don’t think the people who made it think of themselves as “bros” (“I’m not a bro.” “Yeah…I didn’t think so.”) I think they wanted to make fun of the dime-a-dozen stereotypes who do all the things listed (and I thought that part was pretty funny). I also, by the way, don’t really think they were making fun of people for being compassionate or deep thinkers. Axe body spray and playing video games? Doesn’t strike me as all that far out of the mainstream. Anyways, they couldn’t just say, “Hey, did you ever notice how those bros are a bunch of homos?” So they had to come up with another reason why they were doing this expose. And I think part of the joke is supposed to be that it’s funny to think of these annoying frat boy-lites being raped.

    But maybe the explanation is more innocuous. Maybe they just wanted to combine a parody of the NBC thang with making fun of bros.

    I hope I haven’t offended anyone with this comment. To the extent that I’m “defending” this sketch, it’s because I think they’re making fun of predictable representations of rape, not of rape itself.

  7. SoE
    July 31, 2007 at 2:24 am

    I dont want to watch it either. This story reminds me of this “Get a woman drunk so she doesn’t fight against having anal sex.” Just because there aren’t any vaginas involved it’s not rape? HELLO? Makes me sick.

  8. July 31, 2007 at 3:11 am

    By the way, I’m moving tomorrow (this) morning, and don’t know when I’ll again have internet access, so if anyone responds to my comment currently in moderation, and I don’t reply, it’s not because I’m ignoring you. I’m just not in the series of tubes.

  9. Juan
    July 31, 2007 at 3:19 am

    The Dateline aspect seemed to be a minor plot device to rip into the ‘macho frat boy’ archetype (Note the constant references to Phish, Family Guy, and DMB).

    I think the “Bro Rape” is DC taking the “bros'” homophobia and their practice of ‘shaming’ their friends at parties to a gross extreme.

    For those who don’t know, shaming is when a group guys degrades one of their friends however they can for having the audacity to pass out after drinking, often taking pictures.

    I’ve been to parties where they’ve emptied out all the condiments on a kid for passing out on the stairs, and a group of guys put their testicles on their friend’s mouth for falling asleep on the couch with his shoes on.

    These are improv guys poking fun at ‘the jocks.’

    That all being said, I was upset that they took a target that is ripe for satire and ended up making something that was homophobic itself.

  10. Miller
    July 31, 2007 at 4:36 am

    When you wrote that everyone knows it’s not funny to mock female rape victims I couldn’t help but gasp,”What?!” Universally, men and boys love them because they trivialize hate crimes against the eternal foes–women and girls–and combine it with the power of sex, thus, proving, they are indeed “Men” in that being “masculine” is defined as anti-femaleness. This video is not about “bro rape” but really about making fun of rape in general, which overwhelmingly targets women and girls (9/10 victims are female). However, even when boys laugh about prison rape they are, by default, mocking the raping of females.

    This is why I can’t help but shake in anger whenever I hear the public complain that women “cry rape.” Remember, even the New York Times Magazine got in on the myth in the early ’90’s. Rarely do they ever ask the question, “What kind of messages are boys and men learning about rape?” Rape is overwhelmingly justified in the eyes of males.

  11. July 31, 2007 at 8:48 am

    I saw this a few months ago and couldn’t understand what was supposed to be funny about it. I suspected it was more wish-fulfillment of wanting to see “bros” get raped than in trying to make people laugh.

  12. July 31, 2007 at 9:14 am

    Humor is the art/science of creating a tension and breaking it. Men are most certainly afraid of being raped by other men, but are taught to believe (erroneously) that it can’t happen. It’s more comforting to believe that it can’t happen, even if it’s obvious that it can. I’m going to theorize that this piece takes the reality (men do rape each other for reasons of dominance) and the message (that this is ludicrous or impossible) and conflates them into a sort of dream sequence where rape occurs in caricatured circumstances, removed from reality — and by doing this, fulfills and counters that fear simultaneously.

  13. July 31, 2007 at 9:41 am

    Jeffaclitus, there’s a lot I could respond to your comments but I want to address this piece in particular and maybe someone else can respond to some other things you wrote:

    I’m not sure they were making fun of rape so much as they were the way rape, at least man-on-man rape, is usually portrayed. I can’t think of any actual examples offhand, but I feel like I know I’ve seen it before in movies, almost always set in prison, and it’s almost always that angle, so you can see the anguish in the man’s face. Which can be powerful, but it can also be a cheap and bathetic gimmick.

    I feel like you’re giving them too much credit. The fratty tone of their humor in no way indicates that these actors were thinking about how most prison rape scenes are a “powerful but cheap and pathetic gimmick.” I think they were probably thinking about how they could put a fratty spin on an already exhausted prison-rape joke.

    Juan, you wrote:

    I was upset that they took a target that is ripe for satire and ended up making something that was homophobic itself.

    This pissed me off a lot too but I couldn’t put it into concise words, so thanks. The opening monologue of the fake newscaster is great satire because these boys seem sort of aware of who their are and how much of that is a performance. And then they took it someplace really ugly instead of just sticking with the “ripe for satire” material.

    Miller, you wrote:

    When you wrote that everyone knows it’s not funny to mock female rape victims I couldn’t help but gasp,”What?!”

    I hear you. I think what I was getting at was that this type of blatant and unabashed rape humor in the form of a YouTube vid would not be acceptable if the victims were female. The humor in this particular skit comes from the outlandishness of a guy (a bro) raping another guy. Rape humor, when the victims are female, definitely exists, but from what I’ve seen (and correct me if I’m wrong), it’s either more subtle, is done in the privacy of a frathouse, or is done under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

  14. July 31, 2007 at 9:52 am

    I thought they were called “Trustafarians.” Damn I’m old.

  15. July 31, 2007 at 10:14 am

    So, did you use the “flag as inappropriate” option in YouTube?

  16. July 31, 2007 at 10:19 am

    No, but I will now! Thank you for the suggestion. And anyone else reading this should feel free to do the same.

  17. Miller
    July 31, 2007 at 11:01 am

    Salty Femme:”…this type of blatant and unabashed rape humor in the form of a YouTube vid would not be acceptable if the victims were female.”

    No. Search “rape” in YouTube and you’ll see disturbing images from film with extremely high view counts. I once saw a clip from A Clockwork Orange leading to the infamous rape scene. Tons of males lamented that they didn’t post the “best” part and how “awesome” that scene was. And in the general public blatant, ultra-violent rape jokes are not at all uncommon. One word: Eminem. He epitomizes the idea that the more violent hate thrown into the “joke,” the more “outrageous” it becomes and, thus, acceptable. Read the comments section on YouTube for his “Kill You” song and you’ll get a clear indication of what males think of vicious rape. Mind you, “rape” to them is the ideal form of “masculine” sex b/c to be “masculine” is to be anti-female. This explains why rape is the norm in mainstream porn today.

  18. July 31, 2007 at 11:14 am

    I thought I was way past “triggering” in dealing with my issues over this topic, but that final scene was too much.

    In an angry mood at how the fact of male rape is often ignored or belittled, even by feminists, I made the following post over on my own blog:


    The stories I tell there ought to explain why I felt I should evaluate the video in question, and just why that final scene was triggering for me.

    The humour is of a type that has been around for a long time: belittling and ridiculing a certain stereotype of a person whose self-expression do not fit your own ideal model. I guess if I had a cultural reference point for it, I might have found the basic caricature amusing, but otherwise, I fail to see any humour in it. The parody of a) paedophile investigations and b) “justifications” used by rapists, in conjunction with making the topic another form of rape was really just hideous. I guess if the victims had been forced to play the wrong sort of video game on the gamecube, I would have been able to see the funny parody side of it, but making actual rape – urgh.

    I don’t think there was anything racist in the fact that the dildos were black – in that instance, it’s not a racial identifier, it’s just a common colour for a sex toy; however, there did seem to be a tendency to present the rapists as black men (I think around half of the “rapist” characters in the sketch were black, it certainly seemed more than average), and that definitely was racist.

    I’m also reporting it as inappropriate.

  19. July 31, 2007 at 11:16 am

    Miller: I stand corrected. I guess I wasn’t really aware of all the garbage that is out there in YouTube fratboy land. Thanks for keeping me/us in the know. The stuff you described is pretty disgusting and awful.

  20. mich
    July 31, 2007 at 11:19 am

    i don’t know. maybe because there was so much focus on mocking hippie frat boy culture, and not just mocking rape and homosexuality, i wasn’t as offended as i could have been or as some others are. but i’m pretty offended. just not maxed out offended. oh the strata of offense…

    thanks for putting this up, salty.

  21. Cara
    July 31, 2007 at 11:52 am

    This video is totally bizarre and I appreciated Salty Femme’s take on it.

    I watched most of the clip and thought the following part was interesting: “If they didn’t want to get raped they wouldn’t walk around like that.” That was the only part that made me think that perhaps they were critiquing the way rape victims are often blamed…but doing so through portraying the idea of male rape victims as absurd….which is both problematic for its implications for male rape victims…but also for reasserting the vulnerability of women to rape…and constructing women as rape-able.

    For more on this notion….see Sharon Marcus’s Fighting Bodies, Fighting Words: A Theory and Politics of Rape Prevention…which is in Feminists Theorize the Political.

  22. prairielily
    July 31, 2007 at 11:56 am

    this type of blatant and unabashed rape humor in the form of a YouTube vid would not be acceptable if the victims were female

    Go watch the “Unforgivable” videos on YouTube. Blatant and unabashed rape humor at its finest. (And I think we know what I mean by “finest.”)

  23. agirlwiththoughts
    July 31, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    a different view:

    i agree with all the above comments about how this video trivializes male rape–and to some extent sexual assault in general as well, i think–as well as the kind of sexual assault that the show it makes fun of, “to catch a predator” is based around. however, just as much as i have a problem with the rape content, i have a problem with the “catch a predator” theme, and i don’t think the boys were making fun of what that particular show does. i know a number of college-aged men who love the show, and they are by no means all “bros.”

    sexual assault and pedophilia are of course huge problems, both of which still don’t get enough attention in different ways (i.e., women are often still seen as “asking for it,” men aren’t even seen as able to be assaulted, and adults spend so much time fretting over “stranger danger” that the fact that most children are molested by family members or people close to the family is ignored). however, i think that this stuff gets a lot of what i think is the WRONG kind of attention–the kind that “to catch a predator” gives. not only does the show add to the ill-conceived fear that most sexual assault against young people is perpetrated by strangers, but it’s a disgusting corruption of our justice system. i’m not even going to bother discussing the issue of “entrapment” because i don’t know enough about the legal stuff surrounding that. however, we have a justice system, however flawed it is, that gives criminals, whether they are pedophiles, murderers, or a someone people might be more sympathetic with like a woman who assaults someone who once victimized her, the right to a fair trial, the right to be judged by a jury of one’s peers, etc. “to catch a predator” circumvents this system, shaming the “predators” on national television, trying them in the public eye, FOR THE ENJOYMENT OF VIEWERS LIKE US.

    i find this disgusting, not matter how horrible the crime committed, i don’t believe that it’s acceptable for the criminal, or potential criminal, to be treated that way.

  24. July 31, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    That is a disgusting and disturbing video. Sexual violence against men is often used as fodder for comedy (anyone see Half-Baked?), but it fails to amuse me in the slightest. Not only does it keep men who have been victimized silent, it rests on the most misogynist assumptions; look at those dumb men who allowed themselves to be treated like women.
    I am very disturbed by this, and I will flag it as well.

  25. Davida
    July 31, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    a) The color of the dildo has *nothing* to do with symbolizing black men. They tend to be the cheaper, easiest to find in an everyday adult store, which is, I imagine, the reason for purchase.

    b) These are guys in their early twenties. I will bet a limb that not once did they get together and discuss their plan to suppress rape victims’ stories. Bob was NOT looking at the others and saying, “Tom. Dick. Harry. We need to find a way to covertly nip this whole ‘victim coming out thing’ in the bud.”

    c) It’s not real, these guys probably don’t think it’d be funny if it actually happened. That’s the point of a joke. If you get upset by this, then you should by all rights get upset by blonde jokes that end with the blonde falling off a building or jokes of that ilk. What’s good for the goose and all that. Why get worked up/disgusted/spend time fretting over this when there are people who say it’s fine to oppress others and actually mean it?

  26. July 31, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    Davida: in reference to your point b), I guess you need to read up on theory of how perpetuation of a male-dominated society works. It doesn’t have to be deliberate, as long as the underlying destructive attitudes are expressed as normal, acceptable and right, the damage is done. While it would be truly appalling if they really did set out to do it deliberately, the fact that they didn’t even question whether it was okay to do it is pretty bad in itself. And the effect of the culture that is thereby perpetuated is the same, whether iit’s deliberately done or just done without thinking.

    And in reference to your point c) – the blonde falling off a building is genuinely absurd (and, incidentally, when such freakishly dumb things happen, the tales do get retold as humour, in the form of the Darwin Awards). A person getting raped is not an absurdly outlandish thing that could never really happen; it’s a real and traumatic event. to compare the two is really insensitive. In effect, you’re making the same underlying assumption about men who get raped: that they must be sub-humanly stupid for something like that to happen (because blonde jokes work by exaggerating the cultural stereotype of blondes as being dumb, to the point where their stupidity is beyond what we can conceive in r/l; or else, it is self deprecating – “I did a really blonde thing the other day…”)

  27. human
    July 31, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    WTF? Why would black dildos be cheaper than other colors? That makes no sense.

  28. July 31, 2007 at 2:16 pm


    Mind you, “rape” to them is the ideal form of “masculine” sex b/c to be “masculine” is to be anti-female. This explains why rape is the norm in mainstream porn today.

    Could you please explain who “them” is in the above? Do you mean all men, or just a particular cultural subset of men?

  29. July 31, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    Davida, the fact that their intent wasn’t clearly spelled out from the beginning means that they lack tact and self-awareness, not that they meant no harm or that they aren’t causing any.

    It’s not real, these guys probably don’t think it’d be funny if it actually happened.

    I disagree. I think their homophobia would prevent them from actually understanding that male/male sexual assault has more to do with power than sex and that victims should be treated the same, no matter their gender. The fact that it’s “not real” is part of the problem. Rape *is* real. Mocking it in this way plays into the assumption that it isn’t.

    Why get worked up/disgusted/spend time fretting over this when there are people who say it’s fine to oppress others and actually mean it?

    Because people saying it’s fine to oppress others through jokes also mean it and in some ways are more dangerous because it’s veiled behind humor. A man standing in front of me saying “men can’t be sexual assaulted” is a lot easier to argue with than some college boys making jokes about bro rape when in many ways they are making the same point.
    Also, black dildos are cheaper? Give me a break.

  30. July 31, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    If you can take it, check out the awful discussion happening in the comments section over at YouTube. Someone (presumably a Feministe reader?) jumped in and called the video offensive and some other viewers jumped down her throat. Some interesting lines:

    in response to:

    Do you think it would b acceptable to laugh about women being raped?

    came this:

    that has nothing to do with this video at all, get a sense of humor, its a friggin joke, i highly doubt this ever happens. and if it does, oh well, im sure they dont mind, the have the brains of cro-magnons anyways. (emphasis mine)

    and then:

    its okay ruth we all know you were raped

    and loved it too

    Hilarious. Truly. Wow, don’t we all just need to get a sense of humor. Then we could make great jokes like that.

  31. July 31, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    Great post!

    I find this sort of thing really offensive. I just have a couple of points.

    First, the only things I don’t agree with in the post–the comment that this sort of thing with female rape victims would be viewed as unacceptable is one, as others have already pointed out.

    Another thing I wanted to say, though, is that I don’t necessarily agree with this statement:

    This is a pretty ugly contribution to the stigma men face around being rape victims. It mocks and silences male survivors of sexual assault, all of whom deal with the same crap as female victims plus all the feelings around not being real men…

    I one hundred percent agree that male rape victims are silenced. I don’t agree, however, that male rape victims “deal with the same crap” as female victims plus some other cultural baggage. Men are rape victims but they are not by definition rape victims. A female rape serves a broader cultural purpose. Women are the sex class. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it’s female, rather than male, rape victims who “can’t be raped,” culturally, which is why there is so much rape denial.

    I’m not saying male rape victims don’t suffer, obviously, and I’m not saying that there isn’t a cultural component to their suffering related to their masculinity. I just think that rape has a function in our society related to the control of female sexuality. Much of the shaming of male rape victims, in fact, is related to the fact that they’ve been feminized (which is, you know, lower than low), because it’s women who are supposed to be f*cked/raped. If you rape a man you’re treating him like a woman.

    I would be interested to compare not reporting of rapes between genders in the general population, but prosecutions and convictions. I wonder if it’s more frequent that once a rape’s been reported, a rape of a male victim is more likely to be prosecuted and/or result in a conviction. If I were working in academia I would do this research. This is the internets, surely someone’s done this and it’s out there somewhere?

    Anyway, other than that major point, I really like the post. I didn’t even bother to click through to the video. It would upset me and I’ve just eaten.

  32. Colleen
    July 31, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    I am in no way a fan of the video as a whole, but the two scenes where the rapists try to justify their actions are pretty good.
    “If they didn’t want it, they wouldn’t be wearing their polos with the popped collars and those Livestrong bracelets.”
    “I look out the window, and they’re walking around out there and I can’t help it if I start thinking of them all soapy and wet! It’s not my fault!”

    These are the kinds of apologia some people will nod along with when they’re talking about women in short skirts and high heels, or in public after dark, but inverting the trope and applying it to men shows how ridiculous these excuses really are. I don’t really give these guys credit for purposely appropriating the language of men who rape women in hopes of getting their audience to draw larger parallels, but hopefully at least some viewers will make the connection.

    The more I think about it, though, the more I fear it will amount to a subtle reinforcement of the idea that women CAN “ask for it.” If they had thought it through better and played up the parallels more, those two scenes might have worked. As is, I think the message is: It’s funny because it’s not true. It’s funny because men are only sex objects when they want to be, because men are always dominant, because men are inviolable, because men always want it. Obviously, this implies the opposite is true of women.

    So, yes, I just reversed myself in the course of one comment. Way to make a good first impression, Colleen.

  33. Henry
    July 31, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    Do you folks mean to say that when the guy comes in with just underwear, a six-pack and a dildo, none of you even chuckled? Even a little bit?

    Most humor stems from the awful, and lots of men will try to laugh when something awful happens to either themselves or someone else. Gallows humor and all that.

    Not to mention, if I’m going to believe that frat guys raping each other to “assert dominance” is in way not a statistically insignificant occurrence I’m going to need to see some data. I’m not disputing that sexual assault happens to men, but I was under the impression that the vast majority were in prison and assaults of underage boys. Perhaps I’m incorrect, but again, I’d need to see the data. So the situation they’re poking fun at seems to me to be one that is somewhat absurd, which explains why people find it funny.

  34. July 31, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    The color of the dildo has *nothing* to do with symbolizing black men. They tend to be the cheaper, easiest to find in an everyday adult store, which is, I imagine, the reason for purchase.

    Hi, owner of a sex toy store here. Davida is sort of correct here. If you are purchasing a dildo made from a high quality material, such as 100% silicone, (which I strongly recommend), there is no price difference between a black dildo and any other color, at least none that I have seen with any vendor I’ve worked with. However, if you’re buying a jelly dildo (boo!), then yes, there is about a .50-.70 cent price difference between the black dildos and the other colors.

    Since this video was allegedly a joke, then when prop shopping they were absolutely shopping by price. However, the difference is so miniscule I can’t think of any valid reason for it. The issue has intrigued me, though, so I put in a call to one of my vendors, and she’s going to look into it and call me back. When (and if) I find out I’ll pass the word along.

    However, I strongly disagree that a “big black dildo” has no racial overtones. Watching any lowbrow frat boy comedy where the white protagonist gets thrown in jail, the menacing rapist cellmate is *always* a big black guy. I seriously doubt that casting choice is due to a commitment to diversity.

  35. Anatolia
    July 31, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    RE: “I’m not disputing that sexual assault happens to men, but I was under the impression that the vast majority were in prison and assaults of underage boys. Perhaps I’m incorrect, but again, I’d need to see the data. So the situation they’re poking fun at seems to me to be one that is somewhat absurd, which explains why people find it funny.”

    Ever heard the song “Prison Bitch”? There used to be some morning radio DJs who played the song, and one of my Rush-Limbaugh-genuflecting relatives absolutely **loves** that song, to the point of playing it at **every** family get together, sometimes 4 or 5 times in a row and guffawing every time until snot is running out of his nose. He’s in his late 40s.

    Yeah. It’s not just frat boys and it doesn’t have to be absurdly out of the ordinary for people to find rape just hilarious!

    I, on the other hand, having a friend who actually had been raped repeatedly in prison, am not so amused. Kind of a harsh punishment for selling weed, and Shawshank Redemption really didn’t strike me as a comedy either, but we all need to find the sweet spot on our funny bone, I guess.

  36. July 31, 2007 at 7:10 pm


    Starting from a half-remembered piece in the Guardian newspaper from 1999, that i was able to find here:


    I was able to track down some figures based on the experts’ names cited in the article:

    From the lecture notes on a course entitled, “Sexual Violence: Explanations, Responses and Debates”, taught at the University of Bath, I discovered that “male rape” was only made a crime in the UK in 1994 (prior to that the offence would be “non-consensual buggery” – I’m not sure what the difference between the two charges was). The lecture notes show that before this change, assaults on men were more likely to be convicted, but apparently later figures dispute this and suggest that “male rape” is less likely to be prosecuted (44 out of 852 are the figures cited, quoted from “ricard bevan” of “the Rainbow Network” but the dates and original source are unclear) . I was unable to find any definitive figures on the comparative rates of male vs. female rape reaching conviction.

    On rates of reported crimes even being investigated, the Metropolitan Police reported these comparative statistics in their report dated March 2006:

    There is a difference in the rate of ‘No Crime’/’Not Crime’ between male (58) and female (619) complainants allegations. Whilst only 23% (143) of female complainants’ allegations were recorded as ‘No Crime’/’Not Crime’, 41% (24) of male complainant allegations recorded as ‘No Crime’/’Not Crime’.

    That is, 41% of male rape reports weren’t even investigated as a crime, compared to 23% for women.

    The report continues:

    Charges were more often changed to ‘other sexual offences’ i.e. not rape but other forms of criminal sexual assault and a higher number of false complaints linked to mental health issues were recorded with male complainants. The social issues in male rape cases are arguably similar but more acute than with female victims. Advice from those who have experience of supporting the victims of male rape suggest that men may be even more reluctant to report or sustain allegations of rape than women. The social stigma attached to male rape is considered by some to be even worse, with its connotations of homosexuality, than female rape.

    As regards “deal with the same crap”, I think the “Rape Crisis” website carried the most intelligent comment on that sort of debate:

    Is rape more traumatic for men?

    We feel that the horrific act itself of rape cannot be weighted against another attack of a similar nature whether it be male or female, the effects are individual and always traumatic. The idea that women find it easier to report the crime of rape is a myth.

  37. Abe
    July 31, 2007 at 7:26 pm

    There are numerous intelligent ways that one could satirize privileged white frat boys. This is not one of them. For all the reasons listed above – the re-enforcement of the black male rapist stereoptype, the mocking of male rape victims, the undercurrent of homophobia and sexism – I find this beyond offensive. I would really like to hear from the creators of this video because I can only speculate as to what these guys were thinking when they made this and while I’d like to think they meant no harm, harm was done. I am going to save my truly scathing comments for youtube where it sounds like they are more necessary.

  38. July 31, 2007 at 7:28 pm


    [sarcasm]I’m sooooo glad to discover that my trauma of almost being raped was such a statistical outlier! Suddenly, it all seems okay, and I can have a jolly good laugh about what a fool I was to get into that situation.[/sarcasm]

    Oh yeah – and apparently, that Metropolitan Police report shows that in something like 7% of reported rapes in London in April and May, the victim was male (510 total investigated rapes, 34 male victims). Not such a rare occurrence after all, when you think about it.

    It is the perception that it is “rare” and “absurd” that is the very problem that the video perpetuates, which in turn presents another barrier to men reporting that they have been raped.

  39. July 31, 2007 at 11:46 pm

    Davida @ 26, on point (a): As others have said, the reason why “big black dildo” is a common type of object has a lot to do with racism. Whether they were thinking of this stereotype when prop shopping or just going with the cheapest one they could get, I have no idea. But whether or not they were making the statement consciously, it is there.

    Colleen @ 33, I largely agree with your comment and that’s totally what I was getting at with my analysis of the message and why it might be humorous to the men who think it’s humorous.

  40. Neko-Onna
    August 1, 2007 at 1:17 am

    K- I just want to say up front I am not a “Bro”, but I am fairly familliar with the “type” this comedy group is lampooning. I am not a rape humor apologist either. Rape isn’t funny. Paradoxically, I think that is what makes this piece so funny for a certian audience.

    1. The kids in the comedy troupe are obviously NOT Bros. They are the creative, geeky boys who the Bros have no time for. This is kind of a “strike back” humor piece.

    2. The kids in the troupe see Bros as big, stupid idiots who are undeserving of their high status on campus, and most of the humor in this piece revolves around these Bro stereotypes (the Axe sparay, the Natty Ice beer, the video games, the music choices).

    3. The rapists themselves are portrayed as stupid and unsavory. There is no more identifying with them than with the victims.

    4. The rape theme is a sort of vicious wish-fulfillment, “If I ran the world, those stupid Bros would get theirs…IN THE ASS!” I don’t think it was essential that it be rape– it merely had to be a violent act. Rape really hit a nerve, though, because it was not only violent but emasculating, turning back the feelings of emasculation these non-Bros undoubtably feel in the company of Bros.

    5. The black dildo is absolutely purposeful- they are tying in to the mainstream themes of black men being violent, black men’s penises being larger, etc. In order to be fully, TRULY raped, the Bros must be raped in the most appaling, stereotypical style possible. I also think it was a sly poke at the rapist-Bros’ lack of inherent masculinity, in that they had to have a “compensation dildo” to do the deed.

    These boys are taking a swipe at people they see being a rung up on the entitlement ladder. I sincerely doubt any of them put a moment’s thought into how they might be stigmatizing real rape victims, making light of women’s sexual disempowerment, or reinforcing racial stereotypes. It is their entitlement that is really on display here.

  41. August 1, 2007 at 11:09 am


    Hey! Thanks for taking the time to dig that up and post it. I’ll look at them after work. We lost power last night in Ann Arbor due to, apparently, it just being too hot. I’ve been intertube free until now.

  42. August 1, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    You’re welcome, punkrockhockeymom . BTW, I re-read the article after posting my remarks, and there *are* figures on convictions for 1995 and 1996 given in there (the first two years that male rape was recognised as a crime in the UK). I wasn’t able to find anything more recent, though.

    1995 conviction rates for male rape: 0% (0 convictions out of 150 reported cases)

    1996 conviction rates: 3.9% (9 convictions out of 231 reported cases)

  43. Jack
    August 1, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    Do pacifists get as uptight about Stripes and McHale’s Navy as feminists get over this? This is a repudiation and mockery of the “fratboy” ethos that everyone seems to be willing to claim this is a part of! The entire purpose of this clip is to point out the stupidity of the homophobic/homoerotic clash inherent in douchebag rich college kid culture. You’d think that this website’s audience would be thrilled to see that entire class of folks portrayed as sexual predators, but no, feminists heard the words “rape” and “comedy” in the same sentence, eyes glazed and the point sailed harmlessly over everyone’s heads

  44. August 1, 2007 at 9:46 pm


    I don’t think the proper analogy is “pacifists” getting uptight over Stripes. As if you’re comparing “people who are against war” and “people who are against rape.” Um, no. Why don’t you ask yourself if a comedy scene about a prisoner of war being tortured would tickle a veteran’s funny bone? Because as a perpetual potential rape victim, and an actual past rape victim, NO, I don’t find comedy about what it’s like to be a rape victim very fucking funny.

    There are 800 thousand ways from Sunday to make fun of frat boys. Their propensity to gang and date rape isn’t amusing. Especially when most of the humor seems more aimed at making fun of the “victims” and victim-oriented tropes, i.e. “rape myths,” than the rapists.

    And I’m not uptight. I’m appalled. And you know what? Society’s treatment of females as subhuman, and as members of the sex-if-you-want-it/ rape-if-you-don’t underclass, and then demeaning male rape victims based on the “feminization” they undergo when raped (“Sucks to be treated like a woman, and make all of those womanly excuses, doesn’t it???), all of it just reinforces an idea that us women, we know already, we’ve been schooled since birth: the message is this: any of you, at any time, any of you could be next, so you’d better just STAY IN LINE. (Of course, staying in line doesn’t do you any good, because there’s always a reason you’re out of line, and you’re more likely to be raped when you’re “in line”–i.e., staying near and protected by friends and family–than out of it (because most rapes aren’t the stranger in the bushes rapes you’re taught to fear, but rather rapes by folks you know, your friends and relatives, whom you’re told by the cultural messages to look to and stick around for “protection.”))

    The jokes are part of the broad cultural misogynistic message, you know. The message is thorough, and clear, and consistent, and heard. And felt. By rape victims and potential rape victims. I felt as if the bottom had dropped out of my stomach within the first 30 seconds of that video.

    No, it isn’t. fucking. funny.

  45. Andie
    August 2, 2007 at 11:28 am

    I found it too disturbing to watch all the way thru. Thanks for all the previous comments. They saved me from 45 minutes of typing. Rape is never funny, no matter male or female victims. If the creators thought they were being clever, they fell flat. I think it was an exercise in being outrageous.

  46. Matt
    August 3, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    Thanks, all, for the comments here. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading them and it’s made me think hard … also, my mind got a good workout from some of the different viewpoints that I hadn’t even considered.

    So I watched the whole video again.

    I’m a gay guy … so here’s my take on the comedy they’re presenting. I thought it was either a clever take on internet chat sites & those pedophile entrapment shows ….. with some ill-advised rape “humor” thrown in (I didn’t enjoy the rape scenes either). *OR* They’re expressing a 20-something fear of sexuality. I thought the video almost crossed the line into homophobia territory.

    Here’s what I thought: Maybe this is Too Much Information … I have noticed in the last few years that there’s a new tribe of gay men online whose sex ads or personal ads want other men who are “straight acting” or “non-fem” or “masculine only”. They also express that they want sexual encounters that involve drinking beer, watching straight porn, and then maybe fooling around.

    There’s a whole generation of guys out there who, for some reason, are more in the closet than I was (and I’m 40 now). So, it seems, to get laid they have to get drunk and stage some sort of “Bro Rape” scene. They act straight. They want other straight-acting dudes. And, apparently, they can’t have consensual sex unless it’s some sort of “oops, I got drunk and had anal sex with you”.

    Again, maybe that was TMI, but the video is fascinating.

    Also, it did seem as if they were making fun of the lefty, hippie-types that go to Phish concerts and wear those yellow rubber bracelets. I wonder if the guys who made this video are those types of guys. Or if they truly are making fun of this “type” of man. I think, what I’m saying is that this is their version of the Anne Coulter “F-word” incident … just dressed up as a comedy video.

  47. Kara
    August 5, 2007 at 10:00 am

    It is just that people find the absurd funny. When they are far removed from certain realities, Men getting raped, women getting punched in the face, blatent and gratuitious racisim/sexism is funny to them because they think that it is soooo absurd that it could never happen like that.

    I really do not belive that there is much more to take from it than that.

  48. Mortal
    August 6, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    As much as the video in question cracked me up, this article is among the few things on the web that have entertained me the most.

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