Talking About Rape Culture and Our Teens
We’ve talked a lot on Teen Librarian Toolbox about sexual assault (in YA lit, in the media, in commercials, etc.). Going around the Twitterverse the other day was a piece by Patton Oswalt, a comedian out in LA entitled A Closed Letter to Myself About Thievery, Heckling and Rape Jokes, that was published by the Huffington Post. If you want to read it I linked to it- the part about rape culture is in the last third, although it is connected to his first and second parts.
And just because I find rape disgusting, and have never had that impulse, doesn’t mean I can make a leap into the minds of women and dismiss how they feel day to day, moment to moment, in ways both blatant and subtle, from other men, and the way the media represents the world they live in, and from what they hear in songs, see in movies, and witness on stage in a comedy club.
There is a collective consciousness that can detect the presence (and approach) of something good or bad, in society or the world, before any hard “evidence” exists. It’s happening now with the concept of “rape culture.” Which, by the way, isn’t a concept. It’s a reality. I’m just not the one who’s going to bring it into focus. But I’ve read enough viewpoints, and spoken to enough of my female friends (comedians and non-comedians) to know it isn’t some vaporous hysteria, some false meme or convenient catch-phrase.
I’m a comedian. I value and love what I do. And I value and love the fact that this sort of furious debate is going on about the art form I’ve decided to spend my life pursuing. If it wasn’t, it would mean all of the joke thief defenders and heckler supporters are right, that stand-up comedy is some low, disposable form of carnival distraction, a party trick anyone can do. It’s obviously not. This debate proves it. And I don’t want to be on the side of the debate that only argues from its own limited experience. And I don’t need the sense memory of an actor, or a degree from Columbia, or a moody, desert god to tell me that.
I’m a man. I get to be wrong. And I get to change.
aware of the rape culture. It’s not like it’s some invisible wall until someone lifts the shield, like the little kid in The Emperor’s New Clothes. It’s a daily part of life. Don’t believe me? Check out The Everyday Sexism Project, or their twitter. The stories are heartbreaking, and happen EVERY DAY.
Just shifting things a little bit can change the course of thinking- enough that we can make a difference.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
SLJ Blog Network