People will get offended by anything. Just look at the bottom half of the Internet. Sure, quite often, especially on the internet, you run into people outright trying to offend. Just look at Tosh. Tosh is not my style of comedy, so I don’t watch his stuff. I haven’t seen the video from his stand up, and I don’t remember what he said that offended the woman specifically, so I can’t argue whether or not his original joke was potentially funny. However I think we can all agree that his statement that the offended woman should go get raped was way past the line. Any and all outrage in that situation is warranted.
However examples like this are the rare extreme of people taking offense, and when easy targets like this do not present themselves, people will search for anything to feel slighted over. Take Joss Whedon. This is a creator who is admired and adored by many and frequently has powerful women at the center of his stories. I’ve been seeing the criticism recently that Joss only writes strong women with flaws, such as River being crazy or how much Buffy hates her life.
The thing that people miss when they make these complaints is that ALL of Joss’s characters have flaws. Simon Tam is a wasp with no street smarts whatsoever. Jayne has a 2-digit IQ, Derrial Book is badly haunted by his past, and Wash once lost a fight to a paper bag. In Buffy, Xander was useless most of the time compared to everyone else around him. Angel was a douche-bag, Oz eventually became a werewolf with anger issues, and Giles had trouble being hands on with any problems he didn’t outright cause. Joss tries to create real people, and real people are going to have flaws, male and female alike. Just because his characters aren’t perfect doesn’t mean he hates women.
The worst examples of this are when people take innocent if off-color statements and hear what they want to hear, for both sides of an argument. I now turn the topic to Penny Arcade. They were making fun of the way quests in an MMO like World of Warcraft work. They had a character freeing slaves until he reached his quota, where he’d leave the rest to be abused and beaten repeatedly by their jailors. Naturally Mike and Jerry created the most horrifying situation for these slaves to be in as possible, to show how MMO “heroes” are jerks.
The “rape jokes are never funny” crowd immediately took issue with the comic and used it as proof of how two people who worship their wives hate women everywhere, and started calling themselves Dickwolf Survivors. To make matters worse, a group of people trying to support Penny Arcade started calling themselves “Team Rape” and quite shortly thereafter death threats were made from both sides. Shit got way out of hand, Mike and Jerry had to tell everyone to shut the fuck up and pull the Dickwolves merch, and it’s really too bad. At this past PAX East I watched as a straight white male attendee walked up to Mike and Jerry and thanked them for the Dickwolves comic. He had been sexually assaulted, and their comic aided him in his healing process, and he was extremely grateful to them for that.
If you’re going to be offended by something, that’s fine. Someone is always going to be offended by everything out there. But before you start railing against the source of what offended you, remember that’s a person on the other end. If everyone could stop being dicks to each other, and if people had thicker skin, life would be a lot more pleasant.