Jezebel? Fail. Tiger Beatdown? Fail.
I know it’s my birthday and all, and I should probably be spending my time doing something more productive than getting pissed off at all this faux feminist bullshit (like consuming massive quantities of scotch), but alas, that is not my nature. I feel compelled to fight stupid wherever I see it. And if someone fights back and tells me I’m wrong? Then, cool. I’m down with that. But to ignore entirely a differing opinion and then to continue to consider yourselves championing some sort of greater cause is complete and utter bullshit. The hypocrisy is so blatant, I’m stunned that some of the commenters on Jezebel, Tiger Beatdown, and Slate can’t see it. They’re just frothing at the mouth.
Last night in my post about this ridiculous nonsense between Jezebel and The Daily Show, I called out Jezebel for being self-righteous and its commenters, specifically, for their hypocrisy. I also referenced an article written by Emily Gould for Slate.
Well, Jezebel responded to Gould’s article:
Jealous Bitches Start Face-Clawing Catfight! [you can tell this is going to be a winner by the title]
It is interesting to have one’s reporting impugned by someone who has seen fit to do none of it herself, in this instance or otherwise. But let’s get to the point here. What’s our freaking problem? Good question.
To get everyone up to speed: Women who currently work on the The Daily Show replied in an open letter to a Jezebel piece that explored the show’s lack of female writers and on-air talent, drawing on the experiences of people who worked there — as many as would speak to us (The Daily Show, however, officially declined to do so).
As we’ve said, we stand by the piece and the thorough reporting that went it to it. Anything we have to add has been expertly discussed in analyses by Amanda Hess, Amanda Marcotte, Tracy Clark-Flory, Sady Doyle, and Michelle Dean.
Some have chosen to read that critique as a personal attack on the women who work on the show, behind the scenes or elsewhere, or stemming out of jealousy of one woman’s public sex appeal — that of recent correspondent hire Olivia Munn. That interpretation comes from outlets and Munn herself: She has sharply and repeatedly responded to our critiques of The Daily Show and, separately and elsewhere, discussions of her career choices. And yet judging by her own words, Munn seems unresolved, to put it mildly, about the same issues we’ve been raising. She writes in her book about the difficulty of maintaining her personal boundaries on a Playboy shoot — about which we syndicated a piece — and then, in a Vanity Fair interview, she discussed a similar experience at the shoot for her book cover:
I was at the photo shoot for the cover, and I’ve never done this before, but I just shut it down. I was crying. I knew what the publishers wanted. I’m not stupid. But I wanted to compromise. I told them I’d bring the Wonder Woman outfit to the shoot, but I do not want to be on the cover dressed like Wonder Woman. So I’m at a studio in LA, and the photographer keeps calling the publishers in New York, and she’s telling me what they want. “O.K., less tie. Open the shirt a little more. They want more cleavage.” Finally I was like “No!” I know they’ve done book stuff for a long time, and they know what they’re doing. But I was like, “What do you guys think is going to happen? Are you literally going to gang-bang me, throw me down, dress me in the Wonder Woman outfit and be like, ‘Now smile, Olivia. Smile!’” It was just too much. I wish I had pushed harder against it.
Can you blame us for wanting to live in a world where it matters more that you’re funny or a lyrical writer or a good reporter than whether or not your cleavage is prominent enough? To personalize criticism of the institutions that keep it that way, to respond with accusations of jealousy or insecurity or by calling someone a bitch, is evidence of how badly that critique is needed.
Jezebel, at its heart, is the alternative to current cultural offerings — pop or otherwise — and we aim to be intelligent, fun and against the bullshit institutions and norms that in myriad ways keep women “in their place.” In doing so, we sometimes write about the artifice, manipulation, disorder, and even coercion behind some of the images that are sold to women – which, contrary to some analyses, is not the same as “explaining how attractiveness hurts women.” Nor is in any way indicative “petty jealousy, cleverly marketed as feminism.” Such a reasoning perpetuates the idea that women are catfighting mean girls, for whom all criticism is personal, and ignores the broader societal critique at work.
Yes, we are a business — this is common sense. But we feel very lucky that the nature of our particular business allows us to explore a wide range of topics, from domestic workers’ rights to debunking doctored images to watching Twilight (and, naturally, our content extends to all the celebrity, sex, and fashion that falls in between). We also have the freedom to explore the institutional sexism that, depending on certain experiences, may exist at a liberal-leaning, comedy-centric organization that is widely watched and respected. To claim this work is backhanded and baiting, to reduce it as an attempt to goad insecurities is, at its core, an insult and underestimation of everyone involved.
Nice comeback, ladies. In the very first sentence you entirely discredit yourselves by lobbing a personal attack at Emily Gould, thus proving the premise of her article:
It’s a prime example of the feminist blogosphere’s tendency to tap into the market force of what I’ve come to think of as “outrage world”—the regularly occurring firestorms stirred up on mainstream, for-profit, woman-targeted blogs like Jezebel and also, to a lesser degree, Slate’s own XX Factor and Salon’s Broadsheet. They’re ignited by writers who are pushing readers to feel what the writers claim is righteously indignant rage but which is actually just petty jealousy, cleverly marketed as feminism. These firestorms are great for page-view-pimping bloggy business. But they promote the exact opposite of progressive thought and rational discourse, and the comment wars they elicit almost inevitably devolve into didactic one-upsmanship and faux-feminist cliché. The vibe is less sisterhood-is-powerful than middle-school clique in-fight, with anyone who dares to step outside of chalk-drawn lines delimiting what’s “empowering” and “anti-feminist” inevitably getting flamed and shamed to bits. Paradoxically, in the midst of all the deeply felt concern about women’s sexual and professional freedom to look and be however they want, it’s considered de rigueur to criticize anyone, like Munn, who dares to seem to want to sexually attract men.
So, well done there! High five! As for Munn’s response to an entire blog full of women talking shit about her?:
“When I go into this situation, I don’t think, ‘Oh, great. I’m a woman. This is awesome. I think, ‘Fuck yeah, I worked my ass off and somebody recognized it. This is great!’”
“We’re all human beings in this world. We’re all trying to make it from point A to point B, and just trying to fucking make it. So I think it’s really a disservice to all women when there are women out there who try to compartmentalize us as human beings, saying ‘women’ and ‘men,’ because I’m just out there… I never tried to use anything besides my own sweat and blood and talent to get somewhere. I think that anyone who’s out there trying to bring down why any woman would get anywhere, or why we’re different, just needs to fucking turn her fucking computer off, take the sandwich out of her mouth and go for a goddamn walk fucking walk. You know what? Just walk it off, bitch. Just walk it off, bitch.”
Was this the most tasteful response? Probably not. But when you’re being attacked from all angles about your sexiness, your looks, how you’re talentless, how you only got hired because you’re hot and can deep throat a hot dog, can you honestly say that her response was completely out of line? If you don’t want to get shit, don’t talk shit. And when you lob anti-feminist attacks at a woman, don’t get a case of the vapors when she lobs one right back.
Also, last night, I took issue with a parody letter written by Sady (whom is referenced above) at Tiger Beatdown.*** Here’s the letter:
And Now, A Word From The Daily Show
We work at the Daily Show. We are all women! Please do not make any enquiries as to whether we are hired or promoted at the same rate as men, or which opportunities are made available to us, as opposed to our male counterparts. For we are women. This should be enough for you.
Yes, women is what we are, and also we work at The Daily Show. We are all sorts of things: Production assistants! Administrative assistants! Writers’ assistants! So many of us women are assisting! Why, we even sometimes get our jokes on the air! But not our names, apparently, in many cases, or our faces, in all but three cases. Just because our names do not appear on the writers’ credits — just because we do not, as the saying goes, “get credit” for our work — this should not imply to you that our work is not valued! We are women! This is enough!
Also Jon Stewart is wonderful. He is our boyfriend. We have never experienced sexism at the hands of Jon Stewart that we are willing to write about in this public letter meant to rehabilitate the reputation of the show we are currently employed by, which is run by Jon Stewart. Also, have you checked us out? We’re women! Women women women. Boy howdy, what a bunch of women we are!
As for your suggestions that there are a multitude of female comedians who are funny, and who could provide a valuable addition to our predominantly male cast, or that our show — known for being liberal, and thereby concerning women, who tend to lean left and whose rights we so frequently discuss on air — might in fact demonstrate its stated principles better by employing women, LET ALONE your ridiculous suggestion that when looking for a female cast member we might favor women with backgrounds in comedy rather than a woman whose primary on-air achievement was licking the Nintendo Wii’s port on the day it came out while her obnoxious frat guy co-host chanted “lick it! Lick it, put your tongue on it” (strangely, our recollection of Olivia Munn’s career is identical to the recollections of Sady Doyle, who used to have to watch that show she was on because her boyfriend liked it): Ha, ha ha! What ridiculous suggestions! These are identical to the suggestions our Nanas make, which are useless!
Also, our Nanas are all talented comedians. You have never heard of them, because they are women. As are we! Women women women women women. That is what we are.
The Daily Show
(Which Has Some Women On It)
(Just Not, Most Of The Time, On Air)
PS: Olivia Munn told us to tell you that you all eat sandwiches, which is why you are bitches, and so fat, and no-one will ever hire you, because of how fat and ugly you bitches are. Women! The End.
HA HA HA!
HO HO HO!
Of course she doesn’t see her blatant hypocrisy in attacking a group of women who were simply defending their employer against what they viewed as an unwarranted attack. Obviously these women aren’t thinking for themselves! They were forced to sign this letter! Daddy Stewart was going to drop the people’s elbow on them if they didn’t! Smile pretty for the cameras, you Stepfords! And by the way, you other people behind the scenes? You make up artists and whatever. That’s not really a job. But you’re really pretty.
And, heavens to Betsy! The Daily Show women didn’t write a Serious Letter! They wrote something — gasp! – funny! Who do they think they are? A bunch of fucking comedians? How dare they ignore our Feminist Concerns, we huddled masses in the blogosphere, yearning to be free.
Then today, I checked to see what the commenters were saying at Tiger Beatdown, and I got annoyed. Instantly. The comments are exactly what you would expect from an echo chamber. Here’s a sample of some of the more inane comments:
Why couldn’t they just acknowledge even just a tiny bit that sexism exists in comedy and ‘the industry’ that they are a part of, instead of really snarkily denying it? Because, before i used to watch the Daily Show and the ‘woman problem’ only vaguely bothered me; I could ignore it and enjoy the show. Now, my intelligence is insulted, and even by expressing this fact, I’ve become an internet harpy whose existence is a bane to the-opposite-of-sexist Jon Stewart. Why wouldn’t the show want to prevent that disenchantment from happening to its own fans? I don’t get how a tongue-in-cheek deflection is supposed to stand as proof that there’s no sexism there… since it basically circles back into a getting-defensive and not-taking-real-concerns-very-seriously Dudishness. (Because when awkward descriptions of sexism come from an ex-employee, obviously they’re just “bitter rantings,” and you know what she’s also probably “crazy” and “overemotional” too, and we ladies should be willing to take that assurance at face value because WE HAVE NEVER HAD TO DEAL WITH BEING WRITTEN OFF LIKE THAT BEFORE.) What’s a fan to do?
It’s always struck me as ironic that, as much of a frat boy prick Craig Kilborn was, and as smart and politically enlightened Stewart’s supposed to be, there were a lot more female TDS correspondents when Kilborn hosted the show. Though I’m not sure how much control Kilborn had over casting or if that was all Winstead’s and Smithburg’s doing. I’ve missed Bethelford with an aching, aching heart since she left. Where the hell is that lady?!
Nancy Wall was killer too.
It’s interesting that Sam Bee’s been the only regular female TDS correspondent for more than five years now and Stewart only noticed just now since The Feminists started making noise about it. Best response is to get defensive and sic one of your two lady-correspondents on them to call them a bunch of whiny shrews!
Yeah, this response makes me want to somehow not watch TDS even more than I was already not watching it.
I don’t understand why sexists always get defensive like this when somebody points out their sexism. Stewart knows damn well how few female writers and correspondents he has. It’s ridiculous for him to blame anti-sexists for pointing out what he set up himself. Big baby.
So, I figure, sweet! This ain’t Jezebel. I’m going to finger rant a little, and maybe one of these women will actually answer a question without resorting to reactionary inflammatory rhetoric. The question is, essentially: What the hell makes you so special? So I typed out a comment:
Here’s a question:
What makes the “Jezebel-style feminists” (and I put that in quotes because I don’t consider Jezebel to be a feminist blog AT ALL) entitled to anything but a dismissive “Jezebel thinks I’m a sexist prick” response?
The post in question did not relay any real information about the show “behind the scenes.” Carmon spoke to a handful of fired employees, and made a bunch of sweeping generalizations. Then the Jezzies worked themselves up into a tizzy, as expected, and then what… Did you honestly expect the TDS team behind the gospel choir singing “Go F*ck Yourselves” to take seriously an article written by an author who didn’t even take her job seriously enough to do the right amount of research.
>”It’s interesting that Sam Bee’s been the only regular female TDS correspondent for more than five years now and Stewart only noticed >just now since The Feminists started making noise about it. Best response is to get defensive and sic one of your two >lady-correspondents on them to call them a bunch of whiny shrews!”
HUGE Assumption. Do you have any concrete evidence that it wasn’t until “Feminists started making noise” that Stewart “noticed” the problem? I suspect you don’t. I suspect you also don’t know anything about how it is TDS vets female correspondents/writers.
These so-called “Feminists” are certainly giving themselves a lot of undeserved credit.
And then you entirely discount the fact that the women who DO work on the show decided to stick up for their employer who was painted as a tyrant jerk. Of course you assume they did so only because Daddy Stewart told them to, thus feeding in to the very stereotypes you seem to want to eradicate.
If I was a female employee of TDS (whether behind the camera or in front), I would have responded the exact same way.
The self-righteousness is really ridiculous over here and on Jezebel, especially when coupled with the snarky and entirely “anti-feminist” crap being lodged at Olivia Munn.
Shameful. It really is shameful.
Then I saw that my comment was being held in moderation, while the others were still high fiving themselves for being Champions of My Vagina in subsequent comments. So I posted another one:
my comment is still in moderation?
i guess this blog doesn’t appreciate opposing views either.
Two hours later, I posted again:
i’m really surprised at the level of comment moderation over here. it’s no wonder you don’t hear differing opinions.
it’s just an echo chamber.
you’re doing all women a disservice. i hope you know that.
So there you have it. FEMINISM ROOLZ!! BUT ONLY THE KIND THAT I LIKE!!!
Just keep on sticking your fingers in your ears and singing, “la la la la.” That way you’ll never have to hear information that gives your brain a case of teh cognitive dissonancez. Because then, oh noes! You might have to examine your viewpoints and, you know, maybe change them if they’re wrong and hypocritical.
[click for a closer view]
P.S. Who wants to bet my trackback won’t appear in their comment section either? Pussies. (Yeah, I said it.)
***Admittedly, I didn’t go into great lengths about the parody letter, having already written a long ass rambly post.
Update: 7 hours later, my comment is still in moderation. meanwhile someone posted this after my original comment (you can see it in the above picture):
Especially being a comic, I dont care if the editor and hairstylist think female comics are not discriminated against on the show.
Also, just because you are woman also doesnt mean you are automatically not sexist also. How do we know these women speaking out are not sexist even in just a passive way of tolerating it.
there must be something wrong with the women staff if that was the funniest most intelligent comeback they could think up between the 30 of them
That’s the most logical reason. The women are sexist themselves! And besides, there’s something wrong with them because I didn’t think their letter was funny.
Yep, no pettiness here. Move along.
[image via Cyanide and Happiness]