In response to a sexual assault controversy that’s currently engulfing the New York comedy scene, women’s satire site Reductress has devoted its entire landing page to humor articles (primarily written by women) about rape.
“Man Who Sexually Assaulted You Likes Your Facebook Post About Sexual Assault” reads one headline, while another touts “I Anonymously Reported My Rape for the Anonymous Attention.”
In the latter article, Nicole Silverberg writes:
As many women know, the process of reporting the rape can be as traumatic as the assault itself. The burden of proof is put upon the victim and there’s often a bias toward innocence, which can make the entire process feel futile and even cruel. The process of reporting my rape nearly destroyed me, but it was all worth it—just to see my name, “21-year-old woman,” emblazoned in newspapers next to the words, “may have had two beers that night.”
The articles were posted after a popular New York City comedian was banned from the Upright Citizens Brigade comedy network after he was accused of rape by multiple women. Since then, several (mostly) male members of the community have jumped to the accused’s defense—Kurt Metzger, a staff writer for Inside Amy Schumer, being among the most vocal.
In a rambling Facebook post, Metzger wrote:
(Note: Jiff Dilfyberg is a name Metzger made up, not the name of the accused comedian.)
Reached for comment by Jezebel, Reductress founder and editor Beth Newell said:
Our female comedian friends were feeling pretty frustrated with a lot of the dialogue surrounding these events, specifically some of the comments coming from men. We put out a call to writers for pitches on the topics of sexual assault and related issues and we received an overwhelming response.
So we came up with the idea to use as many of those ideas as possible and do a full homepage takeover.
Asked whether or not she views artistic expression and humor as the most effective form of speaking out, Newell replied, “I think we all cope in our own way and I don’t want to shame any of the women who are calling out Metzger, but I think this story is so much bigger than him and to make it entirely about him is maybe giving people a scapegoat. Not to mention giving him the attention he desires.”
“For us, this is about how we can all take responsibility for improving the dialogue about sexual assault and abuse going forward,” she added.
A Reductress post by Ingrid Ostby titled “‘Most Woman Lie About Rape,’ Says Man Lying About Rape” reads:
“This is a true stat, I’m not making this up—99 percent of women are lying about rape,” Ratner said, blatantly lying about rape. According to reports, Ratner wrote this across several Facebook comment threads and also shared it aloud to anyone who would listen.
Another post by Sarah Pappalardo, written in the voice of a medieval witch, calls out the men describing the actions of women in the comedy community a “witch hunt.”
“Would you like to know what an actual witch hunt looks like? Cut me down from this burning stake and I’ll tell you. Seriously, pull me down, I am about to burn,” says Hagatha the Witch.
You might be wondering why I’m almost afire in the first place. Well, I was accused of a crime. And what was I accused of? Floating in a lake. If you were wondering what an actual bullshit accusation looks like, please come and pull me out of this burning pyre and I’ll tell you that it’s “floating in a lake.” You’d have to ask me in person, though, ‘cause I don’t do Twitter.
The move by Reductress has been cathartic to many, signifying further progress among women in the comedy scene to make their voices and needs both heard and met. In December of 2015, comedian Beth Stelling came forward to talk about her alleged rape by fellow comedian Cale Hartmann and the following month, BuzzFeed published a damning article on sexual harassment in the L.A. improv comedy scene by former Jezebel reporter Katie J.M. Baker. Around the same time, female comedians and improvisors in Chicago also began to rally after Charna Halpern, founder of Improv Olympic (iO), questioned women’s sexual harassment allegations in a Facebook post.