I really never would’ve guessed that anti-feminist behavior from feminists would breed more anti-feminist behavior, but that’s exactly what has happened in the blogosphere following the controversy over “The Daily Show” and its purported “woman problem.”
After the show’s female staffers responded with an open letter refuting Jezebel reporter Irin Carmon‘s charges of sexism in “The Daily Show” workplace, much became murky but one thing became crystal clear: In terms of sexism, men and women have no problem being equal-opportunity offenders.
This was evidenced by at least one of Jezebel’s fellow female bloggers, Sady Doyle, who rushed to defend the site and Carmon’s claims. Doyle mocked the women of “The Daily Show” for asserting themselves and publicly defending their boss, painting them as nothing more than flirtatious, flitting sufferers of Stockholm Syndrome who refer to their oppressor as “our boyfriend.” Nothing says “feminism” like dimissing thoughtful input from women. Doyle must think she’s an executive at Sterling Cooper and these female Daily Show employees are her secretaries.
And then there’s Amanda Hess, the other lady blogger who poked holes in the women’s open letter. She did so in order to laud Carmon’s piece and let people know that, while the female staffers at “The Daily Show” might not realize it, Jon Stewart is creating a sexist workplace. Rather than take these women seriously and give weight to their own opinions of their boss and office, Hess chose to continue attacking Stewart for his “ignorance” in “just not be[ing] overtly discriminatory.” She takes direct issue with him and closes her post by calling the letter, the one accompanied by a picture of and a list of female staffers at “The Daily Show” and titled “Women of The Daily Show Speak,” Stewart’s “response.” In doing so, Hess credits him and thus nullifies this group of women’s agency. Hess played into the female staffers’ hands, in essence, because they closed their letter with a tongue-in-cheek “thanks to the male writers who penned this for us.”
What’s most unfortunate for this longtime Jezzie is that I found links to both of the aforementioned blog posts in a reply from Jezebel’s editors regarding the Daily Show sexism uproar, a reply in which the editors take issue with the debate being reduced to a cat fight. They even go so far as to write that, “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.”
The editors behind the piece linked to Doyle’s and Hess’ posts, stating “Anything we have to add has been expertly discussed in analyses by Amanda Hess, Amanda Marcotte, Tracy Clark-Flory, Sady Doyle and Michelle Dean.” I’m no hypocrite; I’m taking the words of the Jezebel editors at face value, and if I’m giving them due credit, I have to call shenanigans. The editors of Jezebel, we can presume, read the posts they linked to, and if that’s true, then the editors are endorsing the very sexism and catfighting they claim to rally against.
That might be shocking, but only if you haven’t been following the Jezebel/Daily Show war since the first shot, which was fired early last month, when “Attack of the Show” star and sexy cover girl Olivia Munn was hired as the show’s Senior Asian Correspondent. Carmon penned two pieces not exactly heralding the hire as a forward step for feminism.
The fight that raged at Jezebel became one of has Munn earned it? Is she just another hot chick (the implication being that she’s shallow or dumb)? It’s a fight Carmon stoked not only by referencing Munn’s “Playboy” and “Maxim” covers, but also by posting videos of Munn suggestively eating a hot dog (scroll down) and jumping into pie dressed as a French maid (again, scroll down).
I can’t dismiss Carmon’s intentions as simply being to expose Munn’s talent to readers who may not know who she is. Carmon is a journalist at a website that regularly exposes the media’s unfair portrayals of women, especially as sex objects. To assume Carmon didn’t know the reaction those videos would provoke is to impugn her intelligence, and I think Carmon is anything but dense or naive. Carmon even called Munn’s persona “geek goddess shtick,” a phrase ripe with clear skepticism and negative connotations.
In today’s post, the Jezebel editors claimed to be doing Munn a favor by fighting sexism, citing her own claims of being pushed too hard as a sex symbol. The editors write, “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?,” while also partially blaming Munn for the cat fight narrative, linking to her some of her comments about feminism and in response to Jezebel posts.
I’m a big Jezzie, reading the site daily for almost two years, and I know that when the writers there have the facts on their side, they don’t need to stack the deck. But by using, in their defense, popular video to tar Munn as a slut, Carmon simply started a fight that wasn’t fair and made it downright impossible to take today’s anti-jealousy and cat fight denials from the Jezebel editors seriously.
My fellow Jezzies raged at the thought of a hot chick without comedy cred coming in and tarnishing their 11 p.m. hallowed ground. In a later post, Carmon linked to a list of women who could easily be awesome correspondents. On a show that’s supposedly so slow to hire women and so quick to cut them, according to Carmon’s own detective work, is it really pro-woman to implicitly try to cast the new girl’s replacement a month after her tryout?
Even if you don’t think Munn’s work on “Attack of the Show” was funny (and I don’t), that doesn’t necessarily mean she isn’t qualified for or won’t be good on “The Daily Show.” Jon Stewart was in “Death to Smoochy.” Does that mean he doesn’t deserve his Emmys?
By suggesting Munn is where she is simply due to her looks, despite the Tina Fey seal of approval, is a comment not out of place in the mouths of male chauvinists, the same ones who get mad at female C-level executives and black college students and all the other supposed products of pure affirmative action. It’s behavior certainly indicative not of feminism, but of its opposite.
Arguing that Munn isn’t worthy or was only hired because of her measurements, without barely any Daily Show airtime to judge her performance fairly, is just as despicable and small minded as suggesting the black kid in your Philosophy 101 class probably didn’t even take the SAT, or implying that the woman who signs your paychecks probably has a rich uncle or is sleeping with someone higher up.
Either the ladies at Jezebel need to be honest about their jealousy issues and come clean about their shady editing or they simply need to admit their own ignorance. If they do the latter, I’m guessing Amanda Hess will support them, given her track record. Or maybe she’ll just give Jon Stewart credit for that post too.