As a person immersed in the world of comedy— I understand that some things are inherently funny. I understand that monitoring what we say to the point of scrutiny is reductive—it creates a barrier between our inner thoughts and our public selves, and suggests that we can’t poke fun at cultural norms while having a nuanced understanding of their deeper implications. It suggests that humor isn’t a form of coping, which, history has proven time and time again, that it is. But it is true that some people have more ownership over joke topics than others. Just because you’re in a space that fosters laughter and freedom, doesn’t mean you’re excused from everything you say, because at the end of the day if you’re going to grab a microphone and share your words, you’re responsible for them, inside and outside of that space.
Words are important. Every action starts with a thought, and from my understanding, we all think in words. Unless you’re that guy from A Beautiful Mind, in which case you’re 100% excused from this conversation. If your language is flawed, and you have an audience who is receptive to your words, or looks to you as a voice for a group of which they are apart, you have now passed on a blemished thought/opinion. Yes, it’s true that by nature an opinion cannot be “wrong,” but it can be damaging to a lot of people in an unfair way.
A lot of people comment on my Facebook rants (usually men), in which I use humor as a way of dealing with the sexism, or problematic situations I find myself in every day. I would say, “if you don’t like it, don’t read it,” or “fuck off,” but that’s not productive. Aren’t these platforms called social media? Aren’t they mediums by which we are meant to socialize, discuss, and maybe even influence one another (hopefully in a positive way)?
I used to think it was cool to say things like “I hate feminists,” because I’m pretty laid back, and honestly, I’ve developed a thick skin, as so many of the incredible women I’ve met have. Only after talking to some people I now consider mentors, have I realized how wrong I was, how misconstrued the movement was and continues to be, and how much I was contributing to the oppression of women, simply by being a complacent witness.
Here are some things that are not OK:
It is not OK to tell women to smile more when they didn’t specifically ask you: “Hey, do you think I should smile more?”
It is not OKto tell women in comedy that “Hot women aren’t funny because they’ve never dealt with anything,” because I’ve never heard that being said to a man, and because you have no fucking clue what someone has gone through. Ex: I’ve been told I have nice eyes, so sure, maybe that makes me “hot” by somebody’s standards, but I’m also a child of a bitter divorce, and my parents legally brought in an income under the US poverty line for a few years. Nobody would know that from my bone structure.
It is not OK to post articles in Celebrity Gossip magazines about one woman’s weight loss/gain, because no matter which side it is, a women can almost never win in the media, and we will find a reason to judge her for both choosing a healthy lifestyle and being comfortable in her own skin.
These things are not OK, not because I’m a femenazi and want to throw my vagina over your head like a cape and kidnap you into my dark urethral womb while I read you Virginia Woolf passages until you promise to never call me fat again. These things are not OK because #RepealThe19th was one of the top trending hashtags on Twitter last week. And for those of you that don’t know, the 19th was the Amendment passed just 96 years ago that gave women the same right to vote as men. Let’s think about that: Women have been involved in the political dialogue for less than 100 years, while America was arguably founded in 1492 by, bitchyouguessedit, everyone’s favorite genocidal fuckboi, Christopher Columbus (who has a national holiday celebrating his chivalry!).
These things are not OK because one presidential candidate for the most powerful and influential country in the world, bragged about sexual assault, and the world was more concerned about “lewd” language, AKA the use of the word pussy, (which, btw, I love the word pussy and you should too! PUSSYPUSSYPUSSY) than the fact that this long list of women have all had their vulnerability infringed upon by a disgusting molestrous (new word, who dis??) demagogue. Let’s not treat “pussy” like we treat “moist.” They’re both just words, and I know you’re not actually bothered by them, because we use the word “asshole” in our daily vocabulary (see title). And for those of you who don’t know, an “asshole” is the orifice of your body where your feces comes out of (unless you have an undiagnosed gluten allergy and ate bread 3 times a day for 21 years, in which case constipation reduces your asshole to a functionless sorta second vagina). In any case, “pussy” is a fine word. Sexual assault is not a fine action.
These things are not OK because I once met a genderqueer drag queen who, when dressed in her performative costume on a NYC subway, had a man come up to her and whip his dick out and demanded her to “suck it,” only leaving her alone AFTER acknowledging that she wasn’t a woman BY HIS STANDARDS (Bee tee dubs: You are a woman based only on YOUR standards, and fuck a real friend [where ya real friends @?] who tells you otherwise).
These things are not OK because I can’t pay attention in my 4 credit class anymore, which amasses to $6,392, because I am so self conscious of my “bitchy face,” which my professor so kindly reminds me and my classmates of every Monday, until I promise to “smile more for him.”
These things are not OK because as a hostess at a restaurant, I was told I had to wear 3 inch heels during 8 hour shifts, while male servers wore sneakers, and was told that “that’s just the way things are” when I confronted my male superior about it—The same one who had the option of fixing the fact that my toes bled every single night.
These things are not OK because instead of focusing on my homework and watching the latest episode of Atlanta, or spending my money on self-help books I’ll never read, or wasting my time trying to find uncensored pictures of Justin Bieber’s penis on perezhilton.com, I’m writing out of pure frustration that I must take on the role of educating any, frankly unwoke, reader of my shitty blog on WHY THINGS ARE NOT OK FOR WOMEN RIGHT NOW.
I’m lucky enough to be in the most privileged class of people based on my race, location, upbringing, etc, and thus have it pretty damn good for a woman, compared to say, women in Middle Eastern countries, who are beaten for being symbols of sexuality simply by existing in the same space as a man who blames his apparent 6th grade biology on the fact that he cannot control himself when he remembers that a woman has a nipple; or women in conservative states who must choose between botchy abortions, saving up enough money to cross state lines to get one legally, or bringing another human being into a world that’s not ready for it.
If those of us who have the platform and privilege to speak out against sexism don’t write enraged Facebook posts and instill these conversations within our everyday interactions, then who will? What chance do our female comrades have in countries where the internet isn’t provided to them, or in villages where they aren’t taught to read and thus don’t know that their rights exist in foreign lands?
Also saying things like “not all men are bad” or “I’m a nice guy!” is the same as equating an entire complicated international gender-based history to a few of your chivalrous actions—and that makes you just about the most self-centered person I know. How about you retire the dick jokes, along with your ballsy ego, and accept that all the “isms” (sexism, racism, etc) in the world are not based on the actions of individuals, but on SYSTEMATIC oppression. That means that these things are so imbedded into our education systems, our political structures, our corporate hierarchies’, etc, that you not expecting a woman to have sex with you on the first date (but definitely on the second) doesn’t make you a hero, just a nice and normal person. We need you, men, on our side. That’s the side of equality BTW, not the side of “I’m a crazy bitch whose gonna take away white men’s rights and make them live out the rest of their lives like the people who they enslaved, beat, raped, and/or tortured, throughout history.” This isn’t about you. It isn’t about me either. It’s about coexisting as humans in a pretty progressive and incredible epoch (minus Trump—You are the exception, you corn husk of a bigot).
Being a feminist is fucking cool because it’s being on the right side of history. If you’re voting for Trump, you’re also voting for a society that’s OK with going backwards 100+ years in human rights. If you’re a guy on the street who cat-calls women, or angrily tells them that they should smile more, you’re supporting the notion that as women, we owe it to YOU to be at 100% even if we had a shitty day and just wanna go home, wonder why we can’t be Beyonce, and masturbate while eating an entire container of Talenti Coconut Icecream. If you’re commenting on my Facebook status, calling me dramatic for poking fun at the vignettes of sexism in my life, then you’re so stuck in your own comfortable bubble that you’re blinded to the struggle of 50% of the human race. And if you’re ok with that, then you can kindly, “fuck the fuck off.” 🙂