Bebe Rexha’s Assault Is Everything That’s Wrong With ‘Banter’ Humour

Why is the joke always on women?

by Charley Ross |
Updated on

We’ve all been there – we’ve stood there as someone (normally a woman) becomes the butt of a joke that was decidedly not funny, but lazily chalked down to ‘banter’. Under the twisted rules of the patriarchy, to take offense or argue back is to misunderstand the humorous core of the act.

A man who threw a phone at performer Bebe Rexha as she performed on stage at New York’s Pier 17 has explained that he thought ‘it would be funny’ to do so. After being hit Bebe collapsed to the floor, and later had to be taken to hospital for stitches above her left eye.

She later posted a chilling series of pictures of her black eye with the caption ‘I’m good’.

But it’s not good, is it? At a time where we are more aware than ever of the violence against women epidemic – worldwide, one in three women have experienced physical or sexual violence  it is crucial to call attention to this attitude towards what is undoubtedly a violent act towards a woman.

The fact that the perpetrator thought it would be funny just underlines how much the issue of violence against women is trivialised. Particularly as the victim feels obligated to tell her fans she’s ‘good’ on Instagram afterwards.

The alleged perpetrator has been named as Nicolas Malvagna, and he’s been charged with assault because of his actions. The thing that motivated him to do what he did was apparently some form of ‘banter’– so what does that say, really, about the misogyny that lies at the centre of so many ‘jokes’?

And it’s not like Bebe is the first woman to have been assaulted in this way while performing on stage. Lady Gaga was hit in the head by a fan-thrown object while on tour last year, Billie Eillish has had a plastic boob chucked at her while she sang, Ariana Grande has dealt with multiple stage invaders and had a lemon thrown at her at Coachella and Beyoncé has been groped by a fan on stage.

While this is not a completely gendered experience, due to the state of our society’s attitude towards violence against women, greater consideration towards our safety needs to be made, as well as a deeper reflection as to why ‘banter’ humour is so popular and yet so misogynistic.

When Nicolas Malvagna threw a phone at Bebe Rexha’s face, the fact that he at least partially did it to make others laugh shows that a violent act against a young woman has been socially internalised as funny. A chilling reality.

How can we ever feel safe if our safety – or lack there of – has become the butt of the joke?

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