The Steubenville Case and The Power of Humor

rape humor-1Had it not been for social media, we might not know about the horrible things that were done to the young woman that night in Steubenville, Ohio. Sadly, the attitude and behavior of the young football players, to a degree, is perhaps played out all over the country every weekend. Alcohol fueled rowdy group conduct can lead to horrible misconduct; in this case, it led to a form of gang rape.

This morning, I watched a video of one of the young men who was present that night. Watch it at your own risk–it is disturbing.  The cell-phone video is trained directly on one young boy for twelve minutes as he delivers one liners about rape, death and the young woman,  over and over again to the laughter of a some in the room. My shock at what was being said was compounded with wondering why is the camera focusing solely on him.  At one point, the person doing the filming is heard to laughingly say to his subject, “I’m going to watch this over and over again.”  It dawned on me: this young man in front of the camera is a wanna-be comedian. He is telling jokes made at the expense of a passed out, violated young woman (who is not in the room).

There is a strain of comedy in our country that makes fun of others beyond the bounds of civility.  I am not saying that derogatory humor aimed at insulting, harassing, belittling and ridiculing women is gang rape, but it is a kind of shared, group attack that many feel is okay to do. Because it is shared by a large number of people in the room (auditorium,  computer screen), it is somehow acceptable.  Humor is a powerful tool and when used in this way is extremely hurtful to others, and worse. It continually perpetuates disrespect and hate in our society.


About Liza Donnelly

Cartoonist and writer and live drawer for The New Yorker, CBS News. Speaker for TED and others. Books: Women On Men,
This entry was posted in News, Random but Relevant and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Steubenville Case and The Power of Humor

  1. This is awe-inspiring, as is your willingness to use your skill to highlight the rampant idiocy. Thank you.

  2. Dena says:

    Liza. Thank you for writing about this. You were brave to watch the video. I don’t think I can. I am glad the perpetrators were convicted today. I hope the young woman can heal, move forward now. It will take a lot of love and support. I heard some of what her mother said at the sentencing. I cannot imagine their pain.

  3. Maria says:

    Yes! Humor at the expense of feminine dignity is a commonplace occurrence these days. How many were accused of having no sense of humor when expressing offense at Seth MacFarlane’s tasteless and sexist jokes at the Oscars? It seems to be the pop culture norm nowadays. No respect for women.

  4. Roz Warren says:

    Well said. (And drawn.) Thanks! Shared.

  5. My heart filled with sadness as I’m thinking of a new generation of children, they were ripped of innocence, of the true nature of being a naive kid, and purity of love. That accessibility and easy to all the R rated information and their feel to be ahead of competition, though without the basic ability and skills to analyze and judge the wright from wrong. We have a solid foundation of moral codes and we can laugh at something or can watch something, it will trigger any urge to be or to do just the same. Unfortunately I cannot the same for our kids, they see things literally. We used to build our analytically skilled discussing masterpieces of world literature, now they do that based of shallow-modern-“50 shades of grey”-look-a-likes… Those tabloids and cellphones, and iPones and iPads maybe the best things that happened to us (as generation) but the worst that happened to them…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s