Interlude: Thinking Deeper Through Comedy

The current state of feminism absolutely has some image problems.  Full stop.

What I wonder (and have no data) is how much of the controversy comes from vocal groups with unlimited access to social media.  There are radicals within most any group, and the feminist movement is no different.  From the faction that bathes in male tears, to those who take their feminism with an egalitarian flavor, arguing that patriarchal institutions and current gender norms are harmful to everyone; from those groups reaffirming their independence through sex work [1], to their opposition which argues that it reifies oppressive norms and stereotypes.  How can a single concept, with a fairly straightforward definition, have so many iterations?  Taken at face value, the idea of feminism (particularly in a Western context) seems to be laughably uncontroversial.

There are always going to be those who are more aggressively vocal than others, those who find fault with every action, word, photograph, news article, commercial, tweet, et. al.  (One need look no further than tumblr to find an absolute wealth of zealous connotation scrutinizers).  I’ve personally been wary of reading too much into things, of crying foul, of assuming something has a nefarious underlying meaning.

Then I entered the academy.  Even as women outstrip men in numbers, higher education is not (necessarily) welcoming.  Even in the blessed, privileged, and welcoming environment I am in, benevolent sexism, mansplanations, and outright dismissal of my abilities as a scholar present themselves.

So where does the comedy part come in?

It comes in as I over-analyze and over-think the following:


  1. Spot on, SNL.  I seem to only really enjoy SNL when they cover presidential elections.
  2. How much would I be reading into things if I took the Time cover in a negative way? …Would I be reading into things?

Set Clinton’s politics aside for a second, that’s not what I’m here to talk about.  Is it sexist?  Is it playing into the sexist trope of powerful women as ballbusting bitches?  Are heels really necessary here?  On the one hand, gender is absolutely an issue here–we have never had a female president, and women still fight for equality in various arenas.  On the other hand…might there be there better ways of showing Clinton’s power/influence?  Ways that make it less about her gender?

Would this even be an issue if the image were of another old white man crushing foes under his shoes?

I don’t have an answer, but questions upon questions.

[1] It shouldn’t have to be said, but with the term ‘sex work’, I am referring to women who are not trafficked, coerced, forced, or pressured into engaging in sexual acts with others.  The idea of agency and what it really means to choose sex work is an entirely different conversation.  A very lengthy one.


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