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Discuss: Rape Isn't Funny In Any Context

(I’ve climbed to the very top of my soapbox for this one, so prepare yourselves.)

Earlier this week, writer Michael Ellsberg, author of The Education of Millionaires, decided to combine his release party with a bachelor and bachelorette auction.  This auction was not for charity, it was instead for copies of the book.  If you bid $200, you would be given the equivalent number of copies of Ellsberg’s tome.  But what should have been a relatively harmless way to distribute a few more copies of his novel, thereby creating word-of-mouth, turned into something ugly when one of the buyers made the following comment about the bachelorette he “purchased.”

That’s right.  This asshole made a comment, to a reporter that he knew was a reporter no less, that $1,600 was a fair price for “a good raping.” But I suppose that I shouldn’t be surprised that a man who wrote a book about his one night stands and drunken asshole behavior would say something like that.  After all, this is Tucker Max we’re talking about, a guy whose memoir was titled I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell

But you’d think that the subject of this comment, Julia Allison, would be horrified by the implication that rape is something to be laughed about.  Especially when Allison has said in the past that she was a victim of a sexual assault.  And even if she wasn’t incensed by the comment, you wouldn’t expect her to join the misogynist mockery, would you?


A man says that he paid a princely sum for the purposes of facilitating “a good raping” and all the woman involved wants to do is clarify that she cost $1,700, not $1,600?  Because, clearly, that’s the important point here.

At worst, this comment makes light of a horrible crime and spits in the face of all the women (and men, let’s not discriminate) who have been victims of sexual assault.  And at best, in its most harmless (?) incarnation, this comment insinuates that Allison is a prostitute who can be purchased for the price of a few dozen books. 

As you might imagine, if someone said this about me, I’d have a different response.  So I find it hard to understand how a woman who talks openly about being a victim of sexual assault finds this funny.  And frankly, I think this comment makes Allison the Benedict Arnold of our gender, a traitor to the cause.  Because any woman who would not only permit, but encourage this horrendous behavior probably doesn’t have a drop of compassion, empathy or common sense running through her veins. 

If you are as shocked and upset by these comments as I am, I suggest that we turn our frustration into something positive and donate a little coin to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.  I donated, and I hope you will too.

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  1. Nina says:

    This is sick. Julia Allison and Tucker Max are some of the most odious media personalities alive today. At least now I have a concise example to point to to explain their awfulness.

    September 30, 2011/Reply
  2. DCGal says:

    Hi Belle – I applaud you for donating to RAINN, a wonderful organization. But I also encourage you and your readers to speak out (write a letter, even send a tweet) IRL to everyone who condoned this statement – Max, Allison, the sponsors of the event, even the NYO, which should know better than to print it – that it is WRONG. RAINN helps survivors after the fact, but prevention is no less important!

    September 30, 2011/Reply
  3. Jess says:

    She is a void vessel of self promotion. And such crap gets them what they want. MORE PRESS and even this kind of exposure they covet. However, considering the subject this is particularly shallow commentary. The term “deep as a thimble” might be generous for this gal.

    September 30, 2011/Reply
  4. Belle says:

    Jess-I'll never understand why some people are so desperate to be talked about that having people say that they are vapid and soulless is better than getting no attention at all.

    September 30, 2011/Reply
  5. M.R. says:

    Unreal. Thank you for posting this.

    September 30, 2011/Reply
  6. LPU says:

    THANK YOU! Both women & men should be outraged by such behavior. There is no excuse for our society to tolerate or promote the pain that sexual violence causes to survivors & the people that love them.

    RAINN is a fantastic organization that does great work for survivors of sexual violence! Your money is being put to good use. You can also give your time, by becoming a volunteer.

    If you or someone you know needs someone to talk to about past or recent sexual violence, help is available by calling 1-800-865-HOPE. RAINN also provides an innovative Online Hotline, much like a GChat or IM, that allows visitors to chat with a trained crisis communications volunteer anonymously to get the resources & support they deserve.

    Belle – Glad I'm not the only one who gets on the top of her soapbox on this issue. ­čÖé

    September 30, 2011/Reply
  7. Janis Hardy says:

    Gross. Let's hope no babies come out of the procreation of these two individuals (looking at her Twitter, she seems to fawn over him quite a lot). We have enough messed up people in this world.

    September 30, 2011/Reply
  8. Em says:

    Belle- I have been reading your blog for what seems like ever (maybe 3 years?) and this is by far my favorite post, something truly worthy to speak out about. And DCGal, thanks for the idea.

    September 30, 2011/Reply
  9. No Drama Mama says:

    This makes me ill. But RAINN is a great organization, so thanks for the suggestion. Donations there are always needed!

    September 30, 2011/Reply
  10. Belle says:

    DCGal-I hold Tucker Max and Allison completely responsible. New York Observer, maybe a bit. They clearly used the comment to generate controversy and pageviews by sending out the tweet. But I don't think Ellsberg is necessarily responsible. This was a party with his closer friends, he asked them to participate, some did and some didn't. I certainly don't think it was his intent to have this happen.

    That being said, it would be a nice gesture for him to donate that $1,700 to a worthwhile cause and try to cleanse himself of the stench.

    September 30, 2011/Reply
  11. C says:

    This incident devastates me. As a recent survivor of rape, every single thing I do is a struggle. I'm already fighting my own issues and then I read something like that that completely trivializes an experience like mine and sends me right back into my own thoughts/issues. Nobody should have to feel like this ever. Ever. I certainly hope the female and male victims who are and will be struggling with this are never are exposed to this behavior. It's like watching people high-five after a particularly “hilarious” rape and/or murder joke. It should not take experiencing the crime to bring a little compassion to the issue. This is unacceptable and I don't even have it in me to be angry. I'm just completely aghast, and I cannot believe it.

    September 30, 2011/Reply
  12. Nancy says:

    I applaud you for writing this post and encouraging action on the issue. Rape is not a funny matter and neither is sexual assualt; this post shed light on how both men and women perpertuate the violence.

    I have been following your blog for a few months now and I have to say you have style and substance. Please continue with these Friday discussions

    September 30, 2011/Reply
  13. Whitney says:

    Lord, I hate Tucker Max… I hope that he gets the answer to his whole beer/hell question sooner rather than later. Also, I am so tired of women thinking that they have to jump onto the sexist comment bandwagon with the dudes so that they won't get labeled as “uptight prudes with no sense of humor”. Nobody's opinion of you is worth selling yourself out. Thanks for this post!

    PS – I love this blog. So much.

    ~Former DC Non-Profit Staff Assistant

    September 30, 2011/Reply
  14. Suburban Sweetheart says:

    Wish I could say I was surprised – I'm not. But that doesn't make me any less disgusted.

    September 30, 2011/Reply
  15. Kate says:

    Thank you for posting about this! I recently found your blog, have been enjoying it, and am now in love. Complacency with rape culture is dangerous, and it's absolutely disgusting–though hardly surprising–to see this kind of behavior/response from Julia Allison, who is by all appearances quite the convenient feminist. Tucker Max is certainly reprehensible, and it's disturbing to see him get any access to continue his misogyny.

    Also, RAINN is an awesome organization, and I just donated. Hopefully others will too.

    September 30, 2011/Reply
  16. KS says:

    First, let me say I'm glad you wrote about this story because it may have disappeared into the endless series of articles over at RebloggingDonk along with other examples of Allison's heinous behavior. If I hadn't seen this blog post I wouldn't have known about RAINN, and it's always good to know about an organization deserving donations when you can make one and that can help someone you personally know.

    Desperate to backtrack, Allison has deleted her “It was $1,700!” tweet, apparently not realizing she has 28,000+ followers that already viewed it and instead issued a statement (well, a tweet) that she does not condone rape or rape jokes. I am sure glad she cleared that up for us.

    September 30, 2011/Reply
  17. Anonymous says:

    I find this totally appalling and repellent.

    C – I am terribly, terribly sorry for what happened to you. I am a victim of rape as well (6 years ago). Coping with that was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I know what you are going through and how strong you have to be just to keep functioning. I promise it hurts less eventually.

    Please support RAINN, and get involved in activities in your community like “take back the night” marches. We should all do what we can to help victims and to create safe spaces for people.

    September 30, 2011/Reply
  18. Michelle says:

    Belle, great post. Horrible things such as rape and racism are far too often made light by people. This does not lessen the impact of the hurt which they cause people. Rather, it lessens the stigma around the act for those who victimize others. Another wonderful organization where I interned in college is the Tahirih Justice Center. I would definitely encourage people to check that out as well and if they felt moved to do so, make a donation.

    October 1, 2011/Reply
  19. DJ says:

    Dear Belle,
    No doubt this is really sad. I am a victim of this horrible act and sometimes it is a struggle for me to keep going without thinking about it. But, as a victim; I don't really think that Ms. Allison is really encouraging or approving this violent action towards women. Sometimes, we just try to make a joke of the tragedy in order to keep going.
    I don't know. I am still trying to heal myself so I really don't have an opinion.

    October 3, 2011/Reply
  20. Belle says:

    DJ- I can't understand how you must feel, so I won't try to say that I do. But I will say, that it was not Tucker Max's intention to make a joke in an empathetic way. He has joked in his book, in public and in other interviews about rape. It's sick and sad, frankly.

    I don't think that retweeting Max's comments means Allison approves of violence towards women, but I think many other women (including myself) if put in the same position, would have stood up for those who have been victims of sexual assault/womankind and said, “Hey, that's not funny. Don't joke about that.” Instead, she just let it go, tweeted a correction to the price, and then, only after people got upset with her, tweeted her clarification.

    You are entitled to feel however you want to about her actions and Max's statements, I feel she should have done more, sooner.

    I'm sorry for what happened to you. Please take care of yourself, and know that there are a lot of people out there who hope you heal quickly and well.

    October 3, 2011/Reply