Longtime Angry Black Readers know I am fond of Alan Rickman*. What you may or may not also know is that Margaret Cho is one of my role models – I want to be her if and when I grow up. When Zandar (@ZandarVTS on the Twitter Machine) tweeted to me that she had been on the Melissa Harris-Perry show…this morning? Yesterday morning? I don’t know. I run on asiangrrlMN time. OK, fine. Sunday morning for those of you not running on asiangrrlMN time.
Anyway, when Zandar tweeted me saying I would be sad I missed it, I immediately scrambled to MSNBC and found the clip. It started with Melissa, who, in and of herself is pretty damn amazing, talking about a YouTube thing of kids (I’m assuming mostly girls) posting vids asking if they are pretty or not. Margaret responded as to why this is not a good idea and how women are still being judged on looks alone. In a bit, Melissa brought on Jennifer Pozner, the founder of Women in Media and News. The three women started talking about, yes, women in media, news, and how women are constricted in general, whittled away into nothing, while men are allowed to expand.
Melissa’s show is a political talk show, so of course, they talked a great deal about the realm of politics. What struck me as I listened was how little interruption occurred as these three women talk. If you’ve ever seen a political talk show, there is plenty of shouting and interrupting and side-tracking. Very little of that occurred during the segment I watched, and it was really refreshing to be able to hear each woman present her idea in full without having someone jump in and talk over her.
I did a study for my gender and psychology class in college in which I sat in on different classes and tallied who interrupted whom. I will admit it was a limited study in many ways, but the one constant was that a woman never interrupted a man. It didn’t matter the gender ratio of the class or if the class was supposedly more male-centric or female-centric. A woman never interrupted a man.
Now, I went to college back in the stone ages, but from what I’ve observed of the talk shows – and granted, it isn’t much because I find most talk shows to be insufferable – the dynamic of talking over someone in order to make a point is pretty prevalent, and it’s generally a man doing the interrupting.
Of course, this is in part because a predominance of people on these shows are men, even when the topic is something related to women *cough, women’s reproductive rights, cough cough* so it’s not surprising that it’s mostly men interrupting. However, in watching the Margaret Cho segment on Melissa Harris-Perry’s show, I was struck by how refreshing it was to have three women talking about women’s issues in a lighthearted, dare I say it, girlfriend-like manner. This is not to say that they didn’t share important ideas or talk about weighty issues – they did. They just did it in a way that made me think, “That could be me and my best friend talking about politics in her backyard.”
Margaret has said that she used to have a hard time imagining that she could be an actor because there was no one like her to emulate. In this clip, Melissa talked a bit about how she wanted to remain true to herself and still be able to get her point across. Margaret replied that by doing what she’s doing, Melissa is being herself just as Margaret is being herself in all she does. One of the upsides to not having anyone else break a trail for you is that you get to define success in your own fashion.
The other thing I loved about this segment? Margaret is Korean American, Melissa is African American, and Jennifer is Jewish American. The three of them, sitting there as if this is an ordinary thing, and it should be!, well, that warmed the cockles of my black, shriveled heart. I can’t imagine another liberal talk show that would have three women of varying ethnicities on it at the same time, and that’s a crying shame in the year 2012. For this reason alone, Melissa’s show is a success to me. She makes the impossible possible.