The Women of The Daily Show

8 Jul

I opened up my Facebook news feed this morning only to be inundated by words like “sexism!” and “Playboy!” and “inequality!” And to my surprise, it was all referring to none other than The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, one of my favorite shows ever!

But before I jumped on the bandwagon of “let’s defend Jon,” or “good feminists decry all sexism,” I wanted to do my research.

One of the biggest issues it seems, and the one that irritates the hell out of me, is that the feminist blogosphere is going nuts about Olivia Munn, the sex bombshell just hired to be a correspondent. The fact that she’s posed in Playboy and has a rockin body really seems to piss some women off. It seems you can’t be both hot and funny at the same time. I find it sexist that attractive women are written off as not smart, not talented, and certainly not funny. Perhaps Playboy was an empowering experience, maybe Olivia Munn enjoys attention (don’t we all?).

Secondly, the women of the Daily Show wrote this statement in their defense, which I found to be lacking, but none the less sincere. Amanda Hess then goes on to “analyse” the statement (i.e draw conclusions that have relatively no grounding).

While I agree that comedy is overwhelmingly dominated by men (name five female stand-up comedians, you can’t), it is no different from virtually all other domains in this country. Whether right or wrong, women must prove themselves as we have been made to do so for hundreds of years. Jon Stewart could help the women’s movement along by inviting more female guests on his show, there’s no doubt about that, but just because he interviews more men than women doesn’t mean he’s a closet sexist. He has an audience to pander to, and if the audience responds more to men than to women, the problem is with society, not Jon Stewart.

The whole debate seems silly to me. It’s easy to write successful men off as exploitive and sexist, and attractive women as stupid and incompetent. What we must remember, however, is that Jon Stewart is funny and Samantha Bee is funny too. They aren’t funny because they’re male and female, but because they are talented. Gender is so pervasive, so limiting, and it would seem even feminists can get it wrong.

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