sexual violence; female performers; rape culture; satire
The University of Chicago Press Journals
Journal of Women in Culture and Society
Although the outpouring of discussion about sexual violence following the allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein caught many by surprise, the topic has been brewing as a cultural battleground for decades, particularly in the world of comedy. Today there are more high-profile female performers than ever before, bringing new perspectives to mainstream audiences and a heightened interest in exposing rape culture. Concurrently, rape culture has become a flash point for conservatives, leading to vitriolic online attacks. Just as rape jokes are constitutive of rape culture, we contend that satire that addresses dimensions of that culture is vital to challenging it. This article examines the works of Samantha Bee, Amy Schumer, and Lena Weissbrot: three satirists who are participating in the cultural battle over sexual violence. As we note, however, these three performers do not always evince an understanding of the centuries-old relationship between rape culture and racism. Through critical contextual analysis, we explore their work, with particular attention to lacunae within mainstream feminism.