Am I The Only Feminist That Doesn’t Hate Iliza?
This week a massively on the rise female comedian took a huge hit for an interview she did for Deadline. Iliza Shlesinger just got her own late night show, released her third Netflix special, and finished writing her book- all of which are centered around women empowerment. She is an avid and open feminist constantly fighting for women’s rights even in her standup act. So why when she posted an interview she was proud of doing, did everyone lose their minds and start sending her hate mail?!
Below is the excerpt from the interview that the internet lost it’s s**t over:
“When you’re a woman in comedy and you get a break, people get so excited about it, but while we have to work hard to get that attention, I do think many women think, “Oh if I just act like a guy, if I go for that low hanging fruit…” Everything’s about sex, or how weird I am. It all just kind of runs together.
I could walk into The Improv, close my eyes, and I can’t tell one girl’s act apart from another. That’s not saying that 30-something white guys don’t all sound the same sometimes, but I’m banging my head against the wall because women want to be treated as equals, and we want feminism to be a thing, but it’s really difficult when every woman makes the same point about her vagina, over and over. I think I’m the only woman out there that has a joke about World War II in my set.
I think shock value works well for women, but beyond that, there’s no substance. I want to see what else there is with such complex, smart creatures.
That’s why women like Tina Fey do well. It’s smart, and men can laugh at it, too. I consider myself one of those comics, and quite frankly, I’m appalled by what is expected of women, and what women offer in response in that.”
Here are the main criticisms of what she said:
- If she was REALLY a feminist then she would say women have the freedom to make the same jokes as men and it shouldn’t matter.
- She put women down when she is supposed to be fighting for them.
- She put down half of the comedy community just to make herself look better.
- She is discrediting a topic for comedians when there should be no topic better or worse than the others.
Here’s why I think everyone overreacted and needs to get over it:
Most people just read the two sentence version of that excerpt above with the words “feminism” and “vagina” in it and got all riled up because it’s 2017 and we can’t just take something at face value; it has to be majorly offensive. When reading the entire point, and also being a female stand up comedian myself, I agree with what Iliza is saying. It may not be the most humble way to express her opinion and the WWII comment doesn’t help her case, BUT I do not think her point is as negative as everyone is making it out to be. After having some time to breathe and stop tweeting her hate mail, I hope some women in comedy can take a moment to see that Iliza just wants ladies to rise above the “lowest hanging fruit” when they write. Be smarter. Write smarter. Because she believes that women can and should rise above the “blue humor” that most comedians (men & women) rely on for easy laughs. It is the same as using curse words as a punch line. Does it get a laugh? Yes. It is shocking? Yes. Is it easy and something comedians lean on? YUP.
I have not been doing stand up nearly as long as Iliza, but in my short career I have absolutely noticed the commonality at all shows and open mics in Los Angeles about 75% of the jokes I hear are crude and sex based for shock value. Of course some of them are funny! Of course men AND WOMEN have the right to say whatever they want on stage to get a laugh! But does that mean at the end of the night they will stand out as a smart writer that anyone can remember? Nope. I made a conscious choice way before this interview came out to keep my comedy mostly clean and stay away from sex jokes so that I am more marketable to any TV or Commercial agents that might see me at shows. Because of that, I have gotten comments on multiple occasions that my set was “refreshing” and “smart” because I did not lean on sex jokes and was remembered for it at the end of the night. It does not mean that everyone should adopt the same style or that a female that does vagina jokes is less than in any way. It just means that, like Iliza, I would love for women to strive for harder-to-get laughs.
I am sure that in her career she will make jokes about her vagina. I am sure I will too. I just hope at the end of the day when I am making people laugh it’s because of something other than how vulgar I was on stage. And maybe I am crazy, but I think that is all Iliza wants for women in comedy. To be laughed at for something more than being shocking and vulgar. Is that so bad?!
Regardless of the backlash she got for that interview, her book “Girl Logic” will be on shelves in early November. Ironically all about how to be a “strong yet vulnerable” woman in today’s society, it should be an interesting read.
Now whether you agree with me, or hate me just like Iliza, do as she always says and go “Enjoy your life!”.