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

July 30, 2007

I’m guest blogging at Feministe this week! Check me out. And check out this entry over there for discussion, it’s cross-posted.

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 Feministe

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7 comments

  1. WHat the hell is wrong with you, anyway? Men are great! And they make good lovers, fantastic men! Sex aside, can you really say that you don’t enjoy the envy of your feminity? Give us a break, salty.


  2. Uh, what?


  3. Thanks for this post!


  4. Gosh, there’s a lot to think about here. It’s possible that the college students thought they were being “ironic” in that “claiming to be ironic excuses everything way,” but I’d say this hypermasculine humour is really suggestive of anxiety, although that doesn’t make it any less dangerous. I think I’ll go and read the comments at Feministe before I say any more.


  5. wow. you know, if they had just done a parody of the college “bro” culture (abercrombie & fitch, dave matthews band, upside down visors, etc.), this might have actually been funny. but violent sexual assault is hardly comic material. frightening to think that millions of viewers are finding this to be high comedy.

    (found you via feministe, btw. excellent stuff!)


  6. “(mostly) white college students” – emmm thanks for clumping me in there.

    Anyhow, yeh, good call on the rest…


  7. Am I the only one who thinks that this is a criticism of the typical rape apologists? (‘If the girl didn’t wanted to get raped, she shouldn’t have dressed that way’ bs or ‘she should’ve known better than to get herself drunk’ bs) This seems very plausible to me, because of the stereotype/statistical trend of ‘frat boys’ being involved in sexual assault cases in Universities as well as their use of hooking ‘bros’ into rape via what they like (apparently, gamecube, axe body spray, and dane cook cds) or via alcohol.



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