Sexist Jokes are Not OK, Mr Gervais

Background

An LFN member attended a humanist event just before Christmas 2008 (http://newhumanist.org.uk/1917). Ricky Gervais was one of the acts and told ‘jokes’ about an 8 year old girl being sexually abused; first by a stranger, then by her father. He also ‘joked’ about raping an elderly lady, saying that it was ok because he didn’t kill her – he just raped her.

As feminists we need to make it clear to Ricky Gervais and to all comedians that this is not OK. It condones and normalises male violence against women and children.

Who to write to

Write to Ricky Gervais via his agent at the following address:

Duncan Hayes
United Agents
12-26 Lexington Street
London
W1F 0LE

You can write to the organiser of the event, Robin Ince, via his myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/robinince.

This template letter is to the organiser but you could easily adapt it for Ricky Gervais or his agent. Be creative – personalised letters are often the most effective.

Don’t forget to add your name and address and if you are sending it in the post, remember to sign it.

Template letter

Dear Mr. Ince,

I understand you organised the first of three Humanist Seasonal Specials and the star guest was commedian Ricky Gervais. At this event Gervais made several ‘jokes’ about sexual violence against women and girls. We do not find this funny, nor acceptable and we are shocked that your organisation has not issued a formal apology and distanced itself from this ‘comedian’.

Gervais told a ‘joke’ about the sexual abuse of an eight year old girl and another ‘joke’ about raping women suffering from Alzheimers.

Rape and child abuse are not a joke, and should never be laughed at. According to the British Crime Survey there are over 40,000 rapes every year, and over 300,000 sexual assaults. Conservative estimates suggest that at least one in six children suffer sexual abuse. While male violence against women and children continues to rise the conviction rate continues to fall. Currently the rape conviction rate in this country is at its lowest ever, hovering above 5%, one of the lowest in Europe. The conviction rate for rape is indeed a joke, but the fact that men get away with such serious crimes against women is certainly not; and should never be trivialised or normalised.

I would appreciate a reply indicating your views on the set by Gervais and whether you consider this appropriate. Ideally I would like to see an apology from Gervais and will be contacting his agent to suggest this. In the meantime I feel your organisation should distance itself from this so-called humour and take a stand against the trivialising of serious crimes against women and children, which are all too often ignored and belittled by society.

I look forward to your response.