You are not 'pushing at boundaries'
A lot has been written recently about ITV comedian Dapper Laughs - real name Daniel O’Reilly. A wide consensus has formed in opposition to his style of 'lad' comedy and the platform he has been given by ITV.
The concern is that the sexist narratives he champions encourage street harassment, rape culture and normalises misogyny. These concerns have been borne out and validated by the testimony of women who have complained to ITV.
In a blanket response to these complaints ITV have argued that, 'his unique brand of banter is neither sexist nor degrading to women'.
In his own defence Daniel O’Reilly has written: 'Some comedians push the boundaries in the name of entertainment. That means taking risks. But I think it’s important that if we over step the mark and cause upset that we apologise.'
We are a group of comedians who believe that, contrary to their claim, the current output of Daniel O’Reilly and given a platform by ITV is entirely sexist and degrading to women.
We also take umbrage with Daniel’s use of the word 'we' in his version of an apology.
It seems to be an attempt to shield himself from personal scrutiny, responsibility or recrimination by manufacturing for his readers a false sense that we as comedians are somehow all in this together.
We want to say in a loud, clear voice to fans of British comedy and anyone else interested that we do not believe the harassment of women or that misogyny dressed up as 'banter' is pushing any kind of boundary whatsoever.
In fact it is the opposite.
Pushing boundaries would be attacking the cultural, political, economic and religious systems that create gender inequality. It is most definitely not reinforcing these inequalities by celebrating the very worst symptoms of gender disparity.
There is no risk at all in the targets Daniel currently chooses nor in the manner that he chooses to attack them.
On every artistic, aesthetic and intellectual level there is no boundary pushing whatsoever in the work of Dapper Laughs or the show produced by ITV.
This whole escapade has shown, quite luridly, that misogyny still exists, that it still thrives and that we all have a responsibility to be vigilant and speak out whenever and wherever it rears its head.
We are taking our lead from the many people who have already done so.
We acknowledge and salute the students of Cardiff University as well as students at other campuses who have stood up and continue to stand up against 'laddism'.
We praise the homeless charity Shelter for taking a moral stand.
And we admire every individual on social media who has patiently explained to their peers why misogyny and sexism has no place in modern society.
We hope people continue to empower and encourage each other to be the best they can be and that you continue to serve as an inspiration and example to those who should know better.
Finally, we would like to say to Daniel O’Reilly that we have nothing against you personally. We know you are a multi-faceted person who is capable of love and being loved. As are all 'lads' who identify with your world of 'banter'.
This has always been about the values you are championing, values you are not undermining, values which are damaging to both men and women, values which have been given legitimacy by a network of producers, commissioners, a TV station and their sponsors all in pursuit of ratings and economic return.
Right now it will feel like a lot of people are against you and the natural inclination could be to go on the defensive. We get that. But this could also be an incredible opportunity to sincerely think about and privately explore what true engagement with 50 per cent of Planet Earth’s population could be like when they’re not reduced to 'gash', 'pussy' or 'minge'.
They are women.They are human beings. They are as amazing, banal, interesting and flawed as you.
The door is always open to you should you ever wish to make an earnest attempt to understand that.
(in alphabetical order)
Published: 10 Nov 2014