When I was younger, I was harassed repeatedly by oafish men who thought they were sophisticated. I remember the absurd, vulgar pride one of them expressed when I heard him (falsely) claim to his friends that he’d had intimate relations with me. Everyone could see that I wanted nothing to do with him, so apparently he was claiming he had committed rape.
That monster pursued me on a regular basis for six years, and for seven years after that he did inexcusable things in public places whenever I had the misfortune of running into him.
When I spoke with friends about that man’s behavior, I engaged in cruel humor as a coping mechanism. It never occurs to people like him that nasty jokes about their misconduct are being told behind their backs. Once, I wrote in a letter to a friend that the harasser had been especially quiet that day because his copy of U.S. News and Girl Report had arrived in the mail.
Although it happens to me a lot less often now, I know nothing has changed: The people — male or female — who get aggressive that way never fail to make fools of themselves.
Ordinarily, I can’t laugh at jokes about sexual assault, sexual harassment or stalking. Usually, they’re told by people who want a laugh at the expense of individuals who have been hurt, so the jokes appeal to a shitty underbelly of society. However, some humor in that genre has potential.
I can’t say I got a big laugh from the Catherine Tate video at the end of this post, in spite of the fact that it has merit. The clips I’ve seen of her Margaret the Frightened Woman character are funnier, and I can laugh with Margaret because I’m almost as high-strung as she is. However, Ms. Tate’s “Bernie” skit demonstrates exactly how dumb a person looks when telling inappropriate stories or hitting on uninterested people. Really, the aggressors are sad clowns who have no idea how awkward they look. The only people they impress are persons not worth impressing.
The humor in this video is terribly dark, and there are different reasons for the audience to feel uncomfortable. Please accept my apologies in advance if you watch it and decide your time has been wasted on crap. I believe the skit is an example of rough-around-the-edges humor reflecting an aspect of the human condition we need to look at more closely. Wasn’t that what Lenny Bruce encouraged his audience to do?
Although you’ve probably guessed this already, the video is Not Suitable For Work (NSFW).