Feminist Friday: Guilt.0

Being a feminist can be exhausting. Every news story, every new show or movie, every walk down the street is fraught with misogyny and anger. There was a time when I didn’t really pay attention to things. I identified as feminist but was not actively engaged. I could get by with an eye roll and my name on an online petition, then back to whatever young, carefree thoughts I had at that time.

As I’ve gotten older, the shit the world throws at us has become worse, or more constant, or maybe I just have less energy to ignore it. Whatever the reason, I can get tired of awareness. Yelling at the television and ranting about the patriarchy is a full-time occupation and I already have too much to do. So, I’ll purposefully not think about all of the things currently pissing me off. I have little escapes and watch decidedly anti-feminist tv. I’m referring specifically to Tosh.0 on Comedy Central, my guilty pleasure.

I successfully avoided Tosh for the first couple of seasons. I’d read articles about him on Jezebel and knew he was a diiiiiiick. I also didn’t really understand how a show that played internet videos was a thing. My sister and brother-in-law watched it and she’d tell me about some video I had to watch and I’d look it up and it would be amusing, but, still, a whole show of that? With a host that goes out of his way to insult women, non-whites and gays with the casual contempt of a privileged white male? Uhhh, no thanks.

Then, somehow or another, I ended up watching an episode. And I laughed until I died. I’m a horrible person and love it when someone falls down (without serious injury), and there were so many videos of a person doing something stupid and then falling. And there were puns! I LOVE PUNS. And weirdoes! And as much as I didn’t want to admit it – Tosh was really funny most of the time. Yes, he was crass and offensive, but he made me laugh.

I won’t lie, there are plenty of times he crosses my line of decency. There are too many videos of people puking or getting seriously injured. He says some truly terrible things that I don’t find amusing at all (like referring to a vagina as a “stench trench.”) But then there’ll be a segment that makes me laugh or makes him seem like not the worst. (I highly recommend his “web redemption” with the girl who has no arms and puts videos up about cooking with her feet. It was funny and sweet and they seemed to be having a genuinely fun conversation.)

I think about all of the other comedians I’ve loved and there’s not a great track record of feminism and inclusiveness. And sometimes I have a misogynist mean girl thought all on my own, a by-product of society and culture and the competitive lizard brain still buried in our skulls. I try not to say it aloud, but, yeah, I’ve said if you don’t want to get sexually harassed, don’t go work for American Apparel. I know it isn’t the correct thing to say, but damn, it’s like being severely claustrophobic and working for a coal mining operation.

Maybe laughing as Daniel Tosh calls an absolutely normal looking girl a fat uggo (that’s a thing the kids say? No?) goes against all of my true feminist beliefs; maybe I’m a hypocrite. Or maybe I’m simply a human, for good or ill, with conflicting thoughts and disordered philosophies, looking to simply laugh for 22 minutes after the screaming monkey-children have gone to bed. Maybe I’m overthinking everything again. But there you have it, my dirty, anti-feminist guilty secret. I’m not even close to perfect, and that’s okay.

[But, for serious, don’t watch his stand-up. Pure, uninterrupted Tosh is way too much.]


  1. calliegarp

    My fiance and I have this debate all the time. She still finds what she calls ‘potty humor’ and I call ‘misogynistic bullshit’ funny, and I find it revolting. Then we launch into a lengthy discussion about media, intent and inherent sexism. Three years in and we haven’t found a resolution. I don’t think there’s any right way to go about being a feminist. I think being an educated consumer of these things is a good start though, right?

    • Elizabeth

      Exactly! I’m very good at compartmentalizing, and can watch something with a part of my brain yelling “Sexist asshat!” and another laughing like a teen boy. Not always, but I have the ability.

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