Three Women Walk Into a Half-Naked Comedy Show About Rape…

23 Apr
By Judy Berman , Sarah Seltzer and Katie Halper
Originally posted on Flavorwire

Adrienne Truscott’s one-woman show Asking For It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy and Little Else! is part burlesque performance-art, part stand-up comedy act, part feminist conversation-piece. But if there’s one thing the self-described evening of rape jokes is not, it’s shy.

Clad only from the waist up and ankles down for much of the show, with a stack of blonde wigs on her head, Truscott uses her bared lower body and a cheery Southern belle persona to challenge and re-appropriate humor and cultural myths about rape in a manner that feels deeply, provocatively feminist without being preachy. She uses photographs of male comedians like Bill Cosby and Daniel Tosh as props, and her bare body becomes a screen for projections of words and songs that comment on rape culture. All the while, she’s swigging beer and behaving in a way that challenges the assumption that anyone is ever asking for it. Like feminist comedians Sarah Silverman, Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, and Amy Schumer, Truscott is doing the work to reclaim comedic territory that was once aggressively hostile to women.

To intrepidly explore the radical potential of (naked) feminist rape comedy, two Flavorwire staffers and one feminist comedian attended a sold-out midnight performance of Asking For It at Joe’s Pub in New York, where the show will return May 30. A few days later, we discussed our reactions.

Sarah Seltzer: Did either of you have a favorite joke or gag or prop? My favorite was the rape whistle by the side of the stage that Truscott kept working back into conversation. (“Does anyone feel uncomfortable? Just grab the whistle!”) This running gag reminded me constantly of the futile and pathetic ways we try to make ourselves feel better as a society by “arming” women against rape.

Judy Berman: I was super into the framed Daisy Duck picture Truscott used to illustrate the wild connection she made between Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin and ducks’ decoy vaginas, which actually do have “ways to shut that whole thing down.” To me, the show can’t really be broken down into individual jokes, but that bit is a good representation of how it managed to be intelligent, political, and funny at the same time.

Katie Halper: One of the things I loved about the entire piece was how unapologetically humorous it was. Every time it seemed like she was saying something earnest and conciliatory, she would undercut it with a joke or a cringe-worthy statement. It was incredibly funny and moving at the same time, while never feeling trivializing or manipulative. Continue reading

Comedy as criticism: Jon Stewart, Trevor Noah and the issue of Israel

22 Apr
via youtube

via youtube

Who, in the media, will have the courage to call out Israel once Jon Stewart leaves the Daily Show? (On Monday, the date of Stewart’s final show – August 6 – was announced.)

As a secular Jewish woman who has been called self-loathing for both my comedy and writing, I’ve always had a particular appreciation for Jon Stewart’s brave critiques of Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. Considering his background as a bi-racial, South African comedian who came of age during apartheid, the incoming host of the Daily Show, Trevor Noah, could bring a refreshing perspective to many political issues, especially the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But I worry that the same kinds of people who try to stifle legitimate debate about Israel with unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism will silence Noah. (I fear the silencing campaign has already started.) The irony, though, is that silencing the discussion around Israel is bad for both Israel and Jews. Continue reading

Judge orders NY buses to run ‘Killing Jews’ ads

22 Apr
image via pam geller

image via pam geller

For some weird reason, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) wasn’t keen on running ads which read “Killing Jews is worship that draws us closer to Allah.” But thanks to a judge’s decision on Tuesday, these catchy anti-Semitic-seeming-but-actually-Islamophobic posters will be coming soon to a bus near you (if you live in New York)!

The ad in question was paid for by the American  Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), a so called “Pro-Israel” organization, which the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) labels a hate group, lead by Pamela Geller, whom the SPLC calls, “the anti-Muslim movement’s most flamboyant figurehead.” You may remember Geller from her previous tasteless and hateful campaigns like the San Francisco bus signs which compared Muslims to Nazis and said “Stop the hate… End all U.S. aid to Islamic countries.” Or the Washington DC-based billboards which read, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad.”

Continue reading…

 

Embarrassing leaked e-mail reveals Ben Affleck never watched ‘Saved by the Bell’

21 Apr
image via youtube

image via youtube

An embarrassing email exchange published by Wikileaks reveals that the actor Ben Affleck did not watch Saved by the Bell, and certainly had never seen the transformative episode Running Zack.

Apparently, actor and liberal Ben Affleck asked for his slave-owning heritage to be cut from an episode of the soon to be released PBS show “Finding Your Roots.” Last week Wikileaks published several film scripts and emails amassed during a 2014 hack of Sony. Among the incriminating documents was an email exchange between Sony chief executive Michael Lynton and Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, the host of Finding Your Roots.

Continue reading…

 

On Equal Pay Day, a 1970s Batgirl could teach today’s GOP a lesson about equal pay

14 Apr
image via batman wikia

image via batman wikia

Originally posted on Feministing

I guess it’s utopian of me to think that today’s politicians and mainstream media would be as radical as a Batgirl from a 1970’s Department of Labor PSA. But a girl, bat or otherwise, can dream, can’t she? Either way, it’s Equal Pay Day! 

In the 1970s the radical, gender-norm-challenging-binary-questioning Batgirl character came out in support of equal pay. Today, decades later, the gender pay gap stands at 78 cents to the dollar and hasn’t narrowed in the last decade. Every April, Equal Pay Day marks how far into the year the average American woman must work to make what the average man made last year.

It’s sad that many of today’s politicians and so-called journalists aren’t quite as progressive as this character from over 40 years ago.

For instance, when I search Google News for “equal pay,” the first thing that comes up is an opinion piece by Diana Furchgott-Roth, a free-market fundamentalist who rails against feminism and the environment. Her book Regulating to Disaster: How Green Jobs Policies are Damaging America’s Economy is a page-turner, I’m sure. Her op-ed, published in Market Watch is called “Feminists overreach with Equal Pay,” and it argues that “in many ways, women already are ahead, but feminists won’t acknowledge that.”

Furchgott-Roth opens her opus by writing, “April 14 is feminists’ misconceived Equal Pay Day. That’s the day of the year, they say, when all women’s wages, allegedly only 78% of all men’s, ‘catch up’ to what men have earned the year before. The fairy tale is that women have to work those extra months to get their fair share.”

Just listen to all the terrible things we feminist extremists are agitating for:

Paycheck Fairness Act would allow women to sue for unlimited compensatory and punitive damages. It would encourage class actions by requiring workers who do not want to participate to opt out, rather than opt in, a radical change from conventional law and practice. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission would collect data on the race, sex and wages of workers to test for and prevent discrimination.

In other words, Furchgott-Roth argues that this law would…wait for…discourage discrimination. What could be less lady-like and more unAmerican?

She continues, “Feminists want Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, introduced in this Congress on March 25 by Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, both Democrats.” Like the best of journalists, Furchgott-Roth makes her point by using incredibly unflattering images of the two Congresswomen. Because doing your darndest to make so-called feminists look unattractive is a great way to compensate for your lack of logic or integrity.

Since we’re mentioning political parties, you may want to know that Furchgott-Roth served under George W. Bush as the chief of staff on his Council of Economic Advisers and as the chief Economist of the United States Department of Labor. Her position make sense, given that the Republicans in Congress have voted down the Paycheck Fairness Act four times since 2012!

Here is an updated Batgirl-based PSA from today’s Department of Labor, which is sadly as relevant today as it as back then. The text below the video reads, “40 years ago, Batgirl fought for equal pay for equal work, a fight that persists today. While the wage gap has closed slightly, women still earn 78% of what men earn, on average. And for women of color the gap is even wider. We can — and must — do more for #EqualPayNow.”

Here is the transcript for the original video:

Batgirl Teaches Batman a Lesson about Equal Pay

Announcer: A ticking bomb means trouble for Batman & Robin.

Robin: Holy Breaking and entering it’s Batgirl!

Batman: Quick Batgirl! Untie us before it’s too late.

Batgirl: It’s already too late. I’ve worked for you a long time and I’m paid less than Robin. Same job, same employer means equal pay for men and women.

Batman: No time for jokes Batgirl.

Batgirl: It’s no joke! It’s the Federal Equal Pay Law.

Robin: Holy Act of Congress!

Batgirl: If you’re not getting equal pay, contact the Wage & Hour Division, U.S. Department of Labor.

‘History never really says goodbye’: RIP to the writer Chavez introduced to Obama

14 Apr
image via wikipedia

image via wikipedia

The Uruguayan author and journalist Eduardo Galeano died in Montevideo of lung cancer at the age of 74. Galeano’s death, which was confirmed by the weekly publication Brecha, where he was a contributor, offers us a chance to celebrate the words, ideas and genuine political engagement of the leader Left wing writer.

Galeano was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1940. In his youth, he toiled as a factory worker, a bill collector, a sign painter, a messenger, a typist, and a bank teller. At the age of fourteen, he began to contribute cartoons and articles to left-wing newspapers and magazines. He was briefly jailed, along with tens of thousands of his countrymen, in the months leading up to the Uruguayan coup of 1973, after which he fled to Argentina, where he founded the newspaper, The Crisis. When a dictatorship took power in Argentina in 1976, Galeano sought exile once again, this time in Barcelona. He returned to Uruguay in 1985, when civilian rule was restored.

Continue reading…

 

New photograph of prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal suggests scary medical neglect

8 Apr
mumia

Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal, the journalist and former Black Panther convicted for the 1981 murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, had his death sentence reduced  to life in prison without parole in 2011, due to faulty instructions to the jury. Now in general population in a Pennsylvania prison, Abu-Jamal, 60, could find himself close to death once again. But this time it may be through medical neglect instead of execution.

On March 30th, Abu-Jamal was taken to the ICU of the Schuylkill Medical Center, after having collapsed from diabetic shock. The prison did not notify friends and family or allow visitors, initially. After pressure from social media and grassroots organizers, the prison relented and allowed some visitors, including Johanna Fernandez, a professor of history at Baruch College, a friend of Abu-Jamal and a coordinator of The Campaign to Bring Mumia Home.

Continue reading…

 

9 comedy bits Lena Dunham critics need to call anti-semitic

2 Apr
image via youtube

image via youtube

It was disappointing, but  not  surprising that the Daily Show’s incoming host, Trevor Noah, be labeled anti-Semitic. He’s not, but that’s never stopped the Anti Defamation League .  Of his 8,828 tweets, two have been called anti-Semitic—that’s .0002 of his twitterfeed. In fact, one jokes about Israel’s hawkishness ( not Jews’ )  and one joke references the Holocaust (which  he acknowledges and does not endorse). While Noah says his mother is half Jewish, he is not perceived to be Jewish, for several reasons, including some quite racist ones. And as a perceived non-Jew, he lacks the Member of the Tribe protection that goes along with mocking your own.

The same cannot be said, however, of the other major alleged anti-Semite in the headlines, Lena Dunham.  The outraged response to Lena Dunham’s Dog or Jewish Boyfriend: a quiz,in the March 30 New Yorker would have you believe Dunham penned a chapter in a modern-day Mein Kampf. The comedian and writer is far from anti-Semitic. Dunham is doing what so many comedians have done and will continue to do: mock their own. When Larry David or Woody Allen do it, they are geniuses. When Lena Dunham does it, she’s an anti-Semite. Dunham, who was raised in a very New York secular Jewish world (much like I was—full disclosure) and her mother is Jewish. So, she is between fully Jewish and half Jewish, depending on how you define Jewishness. Religious Jews say you’re a Jew if your mother’s Jewish. My own standard is JEH, Jewish Enough for Hitler.   Dunham’s boyfriend is Jack Antonoff,  the lead singer and songwriter of Bleachers and lead guitarist of the indie rock band Fun–and a Jew.

Continue reading…

 

To the media, heckling Bill Cosby about rape allegations is “rude”

1 Apr
Photo credit: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images for Meet The Press)

Photo credit: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images for Meet The Press)

Originally posted on Feministing

The media is turning what should be a story about Bill Cosby being called out for rape into a story about a “rude” heckler who “interrupted” the comedian. And it’s not just the usual suspects like Fox News. In a post on Gawker called “Heckler to Cosby: ‘Tell the One About How to Get Away With Rape’,” Jay Hathaway writes:

At his Baltimore show Friday night, it took just 15 minutes before a protester shouted at Cosby about his many, many alleged crimes, the Baltimore City Paper reported. They posted a video of the encounter, showing a guy later identified as Michael Crook hollering “38 women called you a rapist!” and “Tell the one about how to get away with rape.”

See what Hathaway does? He tells us what happens and uses a headline which focuses on what was said to Cosby. Similarly, Ethan Sacks wrote this headline in his article for The Daily News: “Bill Cosby heckled at Baltimore show after more rape accusers come forward.” This headline puts the heckling in the context of even more accusations against Cosby.

What neither Sachs nor Hathaway does is vilify the audience member who is angry that Cosby is selling out shows despite having been accused of rape and sexual assault by 38 women. Both headlines emphasize what the heckler is doing to Cosby, or what is being done to Cosby. They do not emphasize Cosby’s response. Because that’s not what the story is about.

You can watch the video of what happened here.

And yet, not all media outlets are taking that perspective. For many, the story is about Bill Cosby’s words and actions, not about the words and actions of the heckler. Let’s review the different ways Cosby is being portrayed.

Bill Cosby responds when he is interrupted by a really rude guy! Who’s the real victim?

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 1.11.25 AM

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 12.53.21 AM

The Grio writes “Bill Cosby responds to concert heckler who shouts ’38 women called you a rapist.” At least it includes the allegation. But the subtitle of the piece reads, “Comedian Bill Cosby was rudely interrupted by a heckler during his Baltimore concert Friday night.” I’m not sure the issue here is rudeness and decorum.

Bill Cosby, the Upworthy Hero

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 1.07.57 AM

Then there’s this Upworthy-like headline from The Independent which reads, “This is how Bill Cosby responded when a heckler brought up rape allegations.” The only thing that’s missing is an, “And you won’t believe it!” tagged on to the end of the header.

Bill Cosby: Defiant and unstoppable!

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 1.06.57 AM
The Black Atlanta Star had this heroic description of the comedian who “answers his hecklers and continues to perform his comedy show.”

Bill Cosby: Fired up and firing back and also kinda the peace-maker at the same time!

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 1.02.34 AM
Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 1.02.18 AM
The Wrap headline reads: “Bill Cosby Fires Back at Heckler who shouts ‘tell the one about how to get away with rape’.” The subtitle says, “TV legend tries to calm tensions at the Baltimore show by telling fans ‘We are here to enjoy my gift’.”

Bill Cosby: Let the man speak! Before we kick him out!

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 12.54.06 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 12.54.52 AMLet these headlines be an example of how not to cover a story.

 

Sorry, but you’re a feminist

30 Mar
image via youtube

image via youtube

Katie Goodman, a musical comic, actress, comedian and “menace” is also… wait for it… a Feminist! And she has something to say, and sing, about all the powerful, successful, famous women who say they’re not a feminist: “Sorry Babe, You’re a Feminist.”

Full disclosure:  I’m also a Feminist and I’ve performed with Goodman and we’re friendsies. FemiFriendsies? I dunno. Anyway, I asked Goodman to share her thoughts on the song she wrote with Soren Kisiel (a fellow Feminist and Goodman’s husband) and the reaction to the video, which is going viral:

Continue reading…

 

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