Rape jokes and me

I could smell the rape joke coming, before anyone opened their mouths.

I was in improv class this week and we were playing a game called “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,” wherein the audience asks the panel of judges an advice question. One judge gives a good answer. One gives a bad answer. One gives an ugly answer.

The question was “How do I get to second base with my girlfriend?”

I sat in audience section shaking my head, because I felt it was inevitable. And I was right.

The Good Judge said something about taking the girl to a movie. The Bad Judge said to get her drunk. The Ugly Judge said chloroform.

The guys laughed and laughed. It was just another hilarious sex joke.
As the only female in the building — someone who has a 1 in 4 chance of being sexually assaulted — I hung my head.

I wanted to do something. I wanted to storm out or preach a sermon. But I didn’t. I know what happens when women speak out against this stuff. They’re labelled as prudes with no sense of humour. They become unwelcome in the comedy community.

So we just moved on, as though everything was okay. It was not okay. Nothing about the scene was okay. The fact that rape is an easy, go-to joke is not okay. But I told myself these guys are harmless, and that their disgusting jokes are a product of larger social issues.

I don’t feel good about the way I handled it, and I’m not sure I have the answers for what to do in the future. And maybe that’s the point. It isn’t easy to reach equality; it’s messy and uncomfortable, and sometimes the consequences of fighting for respect are heavy and unfair. But we press on.

Improv class and the creative process

A photo by juliejordanscott on flickr

The creative process — photo by juliejordanscott on flickr

My computer desktop background has this quote from Sylvia Plath:

The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.

It’s fitting for today because I feel like nothing interesting could ever come from this head of mine.

I went to a local improv class last night. It wasn’t great (I mean, I wasn’t great). I seized up a lot. I probably ruined a few scenes. I was awkward at points. Despite my clunkyness, I’ve been enjoying the class because I’m learning things about my creative process, and I’m finding these revelations to be true in writing as well.

1. Creativity seems to come in the moment, *while* I’m doing whatever it is I’m doing. Planning to be creative doesn’t work for me at all. If I think too hard about it, the result is often terrible. It seems that I just have to jump in, wherever that may be, and hope for the best.

2. It’s easier, and more comfortable, and less scary to not try, but it is rarely as rewarding.

3. Sometimes Often, I suck horribly. But there’s something magical about that microscopic glimpse of other-worldly creative genius that peeks out once in a while; it catches you by surprise. I think those glimpses are why people continue to work painstakingly at their craft.

4. Creative pursuits are good for me. Even if it’s only because I’m stretching myself that much further. Even if it’s only to exercise a little self-discipline. Even if it’s simply because I said I would. Even if it’s only to say I did it. Actually doing something–anything–creative is, I believe, inherently valuable.

5. Sometimes I’m not as bad as I think I am (see: Sylvia Plath quote). Sometimes I am my own worst enemy. It has happened a few times at improv class when someone just nails a scene, and then refuses to acknowledge his or her comedic genius. I’ve often complimented people and they just reiterate how much they sucked. It’s not even false modesty; they just don’t see it. And that’s been good for me to see. Not to say that I’m brilliant and just don’t realize it, but maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to discount everything I produce as complete rubbish.

Not much else to say here, except I’m glad I sat down to write. It is good for me.