I never knew it was a man's world! I never accepted that. I thought I had an education just as good as a man's. I deserve to have the same opportunities and advantages. So I antagonized a lot of people, but I fought for women's rights and blacks' rights and civil rights. Discrimination against women was very bad. There was noreason to accept discrimination. No reason.
In Laughing It Off, Katherine Leyton watches her female friend perform a stand-up joke about being sexually assaulted. That marks the beginning of her investigation into what it means when women tell rape jokes:
Every time a guy like Tosh or Morril turns rape into an easy punch line, it gets harder to believe that male comics who perform (or defend) these kinds of jokes don't understand the pervasiveness of rape in America or the devastation it causes. Women comprise 90 percent of rape victims in America—we are, as a group, oppressed by rape.
But when the oppressed joke about their oppression, different rules apply. Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman, Wanda Sykes, Phoebe Robinson, Nikki Glaser, Lisa Lampanelli, Lena Dunham, Whitney Cummings, and Tina Fey are just a few examples of the female comedians who have performed or written jokes about rape—what compels them?
In Safe Words, writer Megan Lieff looks into the history and current controversies around antirape activism in BDSM communities. From the piece:
One thing that the BDSM community has always been great at is having frank conversations about consent. These conversations were standard for many in the BDSM scene long before "Consent is sexy" became the stuff of slogans. And while kinksters may not always be markedly better at practicing consent—rape still happens in BDSM, and anyone who tells you something different has an agenda—we have traditionally been great at explaining why consent really matters and why everyone should care about it.
We've all seen the problems with how Hollywood makes movies. In Back in Black, Emily Hashimoto looks at a little-known list of unconventional films that Hollywood insiders think should be made. The so-called Black List could help reshape the movie industry:
It's an insight into the workings of powerful entertainment circles and a harbinger of what we can expect to see in both movie theaters and the pop culture zeitgeist. Take Juno. Despite its faults, it brought us a young woman unashamed of and unapologetic about her sexuality, from a writer who prides herself on writing roles for women who "get to do more than play Adam Sandler's wife." When the list works—meaning, when it delivers on its promise to shine light on "unconventional" projects—we get films that deviate from the norm, particularly those about women.
Helen Thomas illustration by Lisa Brown.