Trust me, I never mean to watch Tosh 2.0. Anytime I’ve accidentally caught bits of it due to DVR glitches or lazily keeping the channel at Comedy Central, I’ve sprang into action to turn it off. It’s usually infantile and more often than not, offensive. But last night, I didn’t turn it off because I was too busy staring at the screen with my jaw dropped.
This was a real segment: “Lightly Touching Women’s Stomachs While They’re Sitting Down.” As Tosh explained: “This is where you sneak up behind women who are sitting and lightly put your hand upon their stomach.” He did not clarify whether you’re supposed to know the woman in question or not, but either way, ew.
Oh look, doubling down on the “ew” with “sexist body-image fat-shaming,” like so: “Make sure she’s aware that you are in fact feeling a roll.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME. WHAT. A. DOUCHEBAG.
Then followed a brief montage of women being snuck up on and having their stomachs touched. Weirdly, none of them haul off and clock their harrasser (BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT THAT IS). The emotion displayed - presumably intentionally by Team ToshBag - is shame. ”Oh no, don’t ever touch my tummy,” begs one pitifully.
So what have we established here? 1. The touching is non-consensual. 2. It is meant to expose weakness, mock imperfect bodies, and induce shame. 3. The women, recipients of said non-consensual touch, do not like it. Pretty disgusting.
But it gets worse! ToshBag concludes his segment by addressing his audience thusly: “Okay guys, during our break I need you to film yoursleves lightly touching women’s stomachs while they’re sitting down. But be careful because they like to pretend that they don’t love it.”
Is this for real? Comedy Central is fine to greenlight this? I know they don’t give a damn about their female viewers but it is not a stretch to say that this show is inciting men to sexually harrass women. They are pointedly telling men to non-consensually touch women - and that if they say they don’t like it, they really do. The mind positively boggles.
And oh look, they listened! Sure enough, a bunch of YouTube clips, featuring guys sneaking up behind girls who jump in surprise. (“On Tosh.0 Daniel told people to make a video of people gently touching a girls stomach so here it is.”) On the Tosh.0 community page (hosted by Comedy Central), behold a kid doing it to his TEACHER. (“My English teacher said she would have me suspended if I uploaded her reaction. So i [sic] chose my language teacher.”)
Sorry, but this is a major line-crosser. Full stop. “Oh but no one watches Tosh.0,” you say, and I thought so, too. But no! Check this out, from the season premiere in February:“Tosh.0” drew 3.1 million total viewers to its season premiere, along with a 2.3 adult 18-49 rating, 4.1 men 18-34 rating and a 4.6 men 18-24 rating. A huge hit with young men, “Tosh.0” was the #1 series in Prime on Tuesday night across all of television with men 18-34 and men 18-24, scoring the best rating among men 18-24 for any of the series’ season premieres.
This guy’s got an audience. An obedient one. Is it unreasonable to expect Tosh.0 - and Comedy Central - to treat that power responsibly? Of course not. But if you’re confused, a thought experiment: Let’s replace “woman” with “African American.” Like so:
“Okay guys, during our break I need you to film yoursleves lightly touching African Americans’ stomachs while they’re sitting down. But be careful because they like to pretend that they don’t love it.”
Does that make you feel uncomfortable? I bet. Comedy Central should, too.