Adrienne Truscott’s Asking For It: A Theoretical Application of Mass Media Persuasion on Performance Art




Swets, Megan

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Office of the Vice President for Research


Adrienne Truscott is a performance artist and comedienne whose performance Asking For It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her P*ssy And Little Else! satirizes rape culture and rape jokes. In this performance, Truscott does a standup routine while nude from the waist down, drinking alcohol, and surrounded by framed photos of politicians and celebrities who have condoned or committed sexual assault. Examining the communicative elements of this performance from within a framework of mass media persuasion reveals how Truscott’s techniques modify her audience’s attitudes about rape and rape culture. This framework is composed of Expectancy Violations Theory, the intersection of social activism and humor, and the Elaboration Likelihood Model, which are all related to how humor can persuade audiences. These applications demonstrate several elements of persuasion: Truscott improves audience perceptions of her message by disrupting their expectations; Truscott uses humor to reframe feminist issues of rape culture; and Truscott’s performance elicits peripheral processing to ease audience acceptance of her political messages. An understanding of how Truscott’s performance persuades her audience to change their attitudes about rape and rape culture informs how humor can and is used as a powerful technique for changing behaviors.