Posts tagged women
Posts tagged women
I see a lot of Twitter bios that make me sad or angry or disappointed in people. There are gems like, “A simple Southern guy, love women, beer, rock, drinking, my truck, and my wife and family” (I’m being gracious with the spelling here, it is never that good), or the perfunctory warnings about what a dangerous and offensive pioneer you are, and how “I AM SO SHOCKING I WILL GIVE YOUR GRANDMA A HEART ATTACK I SWEAR TO GOD! THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED HERE ARE MY OWN ONLY AND NOT AFFILIATED WITH ANYONE BECAUSE I’M SO CONTROVERSIAL THEY WOULD LITERALLY EXPLODE BY BEING AFFILIATED WITH ME DICK BOOBS FAGGOT BITCH.” Those just elicit resigned head shakes from me at this point, but the ones that sincerely upset me are where girls and women refer to themselves as stupid in their own bios.
I don’t even mean ones where girls say something like, “Real life Liz Lemon, photographer, cook, Cheeto-loving idiot.” I mean ones where girls self-identify as “A stupid bitch” or “a dumb broad” without any attempt at irony, humor, or fun. Where it’s the only descriptor of them, and their avatar is a regular photo where they try to look pretty. I don’t understand this. You are taking enough care to present yourself as someone who’s attractive by choosing a particular photo where you look nice, but you aren’t taking any care to present yourself as someone intelligent? What possible advantage could there be to this? That no matter what thoughts you tweet, we as your audience are supposed to never take you seriously? Or is this a way to safeguard yourself against unforeseen criticism? “Well, I don’t agree with this tweet, but that’s right, she did say she was a stupid bitch.”
It’s ridiculous to me, as a writer, comedian, and sane human being, than anyone would want to be considered dumber than they are. I have spent my whole life being ashamed of mispronouncing words I had only read before, terrified that someone would ask me to point out a country on a map and I wouldn’t be able to do it, in a cold sweat over the time I attributed a certain anecdote to Fugazi instead of The Teen Idles on a podcast. If anything, I value being perceived as intelligent too much, where I confuse many things I think I should be able to know for actual intelligence. I work on this. What are the girls who are calling themselves stupid IN THEIR BIOS trying to tell us?
Sadly, I think it’s that they’re scared of being smart. They are not exposed to much pop culture where women are routinely shown being rewarded for being smart. Instead, there are many many shows that feature toddlers, teenagers, grown women all trying desperately to be as beautiful as possible. There is no America’s Smartest Woman, or Toddlers and Chess Trophies, or The Bachelor’s Doctor Wife. But a bunch of Snookis and housewives who rip into each other at every opportunity are so plentiful it’s like they’re all screwing each other without condoms.
So girls are understandably afraid of criticism. They think if they’re sincere about something in today’s culture of constant vicious internet mockery, they will pay a price. That someone will make them feel like crap for not being funny, or right, or a dude. A lot of them end up perpetuating the stereotype of women being stupid and catty by censoring themselves, and in turn eviscerating other women who do go out on a limb and present themselves sincerely.
So to any young girls reading this: no one will respect you if you don’t respect yourself. You can’t expect everyone to like you, no one can, but you can and should expect people to respect you. And that starts with being the best person you can be. The smartest, kindest, bravest you you’ve got. People respect that. And if in the process, your best gets people to like you, that’s great! It means they like you for you. And if they don’t, you have to be tough and still keep being you. If we all quit based on the input of trolls, there would be no art at all, good or bad. So tweet with impunity, without the “I’m a dumb broad” disclaimer in your bio. You deserve it.
I’ll leave you with something unsurprising, but still sad. This is what you get when you type “why are girls” into Google.
And this is what you get when you type “why are boys” into Google.
So we as a googling nation think our boys are mean, but at least they’re tall!! And we think our girls are stupid, insecure, AND mean.
We can do better.
P.S. Things like this wonderful Amy Poehler web series Smart Girls helps me from getting sad:
I feel like responding to Adam Carolla at this point will take away time I could be spending on writing comedy projects I adore and have to work hard on, so instead I will leave you with what Rob Delaney thinks, which I happen to agree with 100% - the funniest shit is men and women together.
And here’s me putting my money where my mouth is: I produce my stand-up show Gonzo with Dave Rankin, a balls-haver. I produce my variety show SURPRISE! with nut-possessor Rob Buscemi. And my comedic reading show Book Klub, which starts in July, will be produced with delightful man-mango-haver Doug Mellard. I didn’t purposely look for a comic of a particular gender for any of them, nor did my partners - the ideas for the shows we wanted to have were born organically during friendship-making, and cracking each other up. Because unless their idea of the perfect woman is some big tittes on a trampoline, men think women are funny all the time. That’s how we all agree to make beautiful laughter together. So mostly, I just feel bad for you, Carolla. You could be having a lot more fun.
The New York Post published an interview with Adam Carolla on Sunday in which he said, among other things, “dudes are funnier than chicks,” and, regarding writing for television, “they make you hire a certain number of chicks, and they’re always the least funny on the writing staff.”
One of the grossest feelings ever is when you realize you’re committing something you are fundamentally against. I’m of course talking about necrophilia.
But seriously, I’m talking about rewarding physical beauty. I don’t think it’s necessary to mention, but I’ll do it anyway - of course we all love beautiful things and people. We’re programmed by nature and nurture to do so. The symmetry of a face, the fullness of a bottom lip, the shape and color of an eye, the length of eyelashes, the taut drum of a tan stomach, the perkiness of a nipple - all these things are giving me a boner right now, and that’s fine, they’re supposed to. But our particular society assigns so much importance to physical beauty that it seeps into our consciousness and our drinking water and our interactions with each other.
You hear people talk to little girls about what they’re wearing, and to little boys about what they did that day. You hear female comics introduced like this, “She’s smart, funny, AND beautiful, please welcome to the stage Boobers McPussy!” (I wish Boobers was a real comic, but alas, she is not.) But the rest is true. Moreover, sometimes I’m the person who gave that intro. Yep. Just like I was giving out ribbons at a dog show. “Julia, in addition to being an amazing writer, and having a wonderfully dry piercing wit, and being an amazing road trip partner, has toned haunches, an excellent shiny coat, and her whiskers are downright bushy! Let’s give Julia a hand, everybody, what an excellent specimen!”
Gross. And for me, it comes from a nice place, too. It comes from the place where you want to sing the praises of your friends to anyone and everyone, and just let people know how wonderful and accomplished your friends are. But that’s the thing, being pretty is not an accomplishment. Having a unique sense of style can be praised, but being born with the right features is nothing anyone earned. It’s pure luck. What are we saying about each other when we praise those traits? That those of our friends that are chubbier, or have bald heads, or big noses, or tiny T-Rex arms, or lower halves that are horse, are somehow worse than our other friends? Surely we don’t mean that.
And as for comics, how is a funny woman with nice sweater puppies worth any more than a funny woman who’s got little tiny sweater mice? IS THAT WHAT WE ALL BELIEVE? Call me an optimist, but I really don’t think so. We laugh at what’s funny. As much as TV executives try to make us believe that a fat funny man is perfectly paired with a bland pretty woman, we know better. Being funny has zero to do with looks. Iliza Schlesinger is not funnier than Melissa McCarthy because one of them is more classically beautiful. The great thing about encouraging diversity in literally every area of life is that there are unlimited kinds of funny, a broad spectrum of looks and characters and gags. How much richer would our movies and TV shows be if instead of encouraging the best-titted physical specimens who are also funny we tried to encourage the best female comedians regardless of looks or “type?” Can we have female Steven Wrights and Demetri Martins and David Crosses and Emo Philipses, comics who are weird-looking but are never obligated to address it because they’re men?
So I’m going to try to be more conscious of my compliments. There’s nothing wrong with telling women they’re beautiful, but keeping those compliments out of the talents arena is so important. Otherwise our little girls grow up to believe that being pretty is an accomplishment, and that it makes them better than other little girls, which makes them entitled and competitive and catty and vicious, which in turn makes them marry for money and status and be on reality TV, and teach a new crop of little girls to be bratty and shallow and dumb. And the whole time they’re not learning math or science or much of anything at all, because being smart isn’t sexy, and they don’t know how to have self-esteem outside of their looks. Let’s ask them about their day in school, and whether they’re proud of how they did on their Bio quiz, and stop calling them pretty-pretty princesses, so maybe they grow up into women who will even out the gender gap that plagues our country in nearly every industry, and these charts will have a lot more fuchsia in them: http://www.upworthy.com/a-chart-about-silence-that-will-leave-you-speechless?g=2&c=bm1
But let’s start small. The next time you or I list a woman’s accomplishments, can we agree to keep her tight ass out of it?
I’ve been meaning to do a series of entries talking about Twitter and the wonderful, interesting, or weird things that have happened to me because of it. Twitter has really helped my comedy and weirdly, my life, and I hope to chronicle my coolest experiences here in this series. My hope is it will make it more appealing to try for people who haven’t, and also help me remember and appreciate how cool and unexpected life and art can be. And yes, I think Twitter is incredibly conducive to art, fuck off.
A lot of people hate Twitter for a myriad reasons: “I don’t care what random thing you’re doing with your day,” “I hate watching people have private conversations over a public medium,” or my favorite, “I don’t get it.” Personally, although I am always curious about new things, I’m rarely an early adopter of technology. It took me years to consider the butter churn, and frankly, I still don’t completely trust it. I’m just cautious about new things that take my time, energy, and/or money. I’m usually second wave, or later, depending on how intimidated I am by the technology. Pasteurization, for example, gives me the creeps plain and simple. Like I always say, no milk lumps? it’s goin’ in the dumps! It’s not a great saying, but it really works.
I’ve only been on Twitter for about 2 years, I think, and I was a real hater before I joined. After much grumbling I finally joined “for me,” to practice writing jokes in a particular format, to see if it would spark ideas for jokes to do on stage, and to keep me from killing myself when I was unemployed. For a long time I tweeted into a vacuum, to 20 followers who were often spambots or people who never use their Twitter accounts. I had no idea how to engage other people and felt their jokes were infinitely more clever than anything I could come up with. I didn’t get a direct message for a year or more. It was so lonely sometimes I would cry cyber tears and my circuits would rust right up. The loneliness was well-deserved though, since my early jokes were awkward and jammed into the 140 character format the way I jam clothes into my drawers - desperately, with a dash of resignation. But you know what? I got better. I made myself laugh after a while. What started as a forced exercise for a standup comic who was trying to keep her mind limber while not on stage turned into an activity I looked forward to every day. Me, who procrastinates to keep from procrastinating. Me, who has played with my kittens and checked Facebook and Twitter about 5,000 times and made tea and googled “bitters” in the last 5 minutes. This was a major win.
Twitter turned out to be something very different from what I imagined it to be. For one, I never use my Twitter jokes on stage. My standup has been evolving in a theatrical direction, longer bits that involve a lot of character work (really excited to use “character work” here! especially after “butter churn” and “pasteurization”! you guys are so goddamn lucky). My Twitter has become increasingly shorter, more absurd, weirder. I notice that the recurring themes are things I’m truly concerned about - the portrayal of women in our culture, the psychology of advertising, our political system, how much I love catchy rap despite its very obvious misogyny, my awe/hate of horses, parent/kid relationships, and most importantly, BUTTS. It feels really really good to be that honest in an area of your life when so much of life is trapping our fears and anxieties under words and activities so we all feel like we’re not lonely terrified loonies. OR THIS IS JUST ME YOU GUYS YOU’RE ALL DOING GREAT.
The point is, Twitter is a place you can fly your freak flag proudly, and that’s probably the number one reason I would recommend it.