The Feministing Five: Margaret Cho

photo by Mary Taylor via margaretcho.com
photo by Mary Taylor via margaretcho.com
Originally posted on November 16, 2015 on Feministing.com

Margaret Cho, the standup comedian, actor, writer, activist, singer-songwriter, mensch, and wedding officiator, is also an unapologetic feminist. Cho is known for using her comedy as a weapon against racism, sexism, and homophobia. In her latest show, PsyCHO, which she is touring with now, Cho jokes about vibrators but also deals with things like police brutality and homelessness.

Another serious issue Cho uses her voice to address is rape. In November of 2014, Cho tweeted, “I am a rape victim and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I come forward in solidarity with all women who have suffered. #tellyourstory.” She spoke about her experience in more depth during an interview with Billboard Magazine in September of this year. And on November 13, Cho’s new song and video “(I Want to) Kill My Rapist,” debuted on perezhilton.com.

And now, without further ado, the Feministing Five with Margaret Cho!

Katie Halper: who is your favorite fictional heroine, and who are your heroines in real life?

Margaret Cho: My favorite fictional character is Mina Harker and all of her permutations in the vampire genre. My heroines in real life are from that era too, George Sand and Mary Shelley.

KH: What recent news story made you want to scream?

MC: Anything about Bill Cosby. He’s done such horrible things to women for over 40 years and he really was a pioneer in comedy and also the kind of pioneer that I would have liked to have been. He brought about so much change when it came to African Americans in comedy and television and so he was such a hero but the fact that he was a rapist for 40 years and got away with it and women didn’t feel like they could come forward or they were not believed, it’s an outrageous misuse of the power and comedy.  It’s a horrifying thing and the fact that the stories have been around for over 40 years and people didn’t believe them is really terrible.

What is amazing about it is that women are finally coming forward and are able to tell their stories and that will create change in the conversation around rape. As a survivor myself, I think it is incredibly healing to hear these women tell their truths. And there’s no statue of limitations on the truth. Even though he can’t be prosecuted in the matter he should be, at least we have some kind of justice. And we can take this as a lesson that you can put your rapist on blast. And that lets you get some of that rage out instead of internalizing it. I think that sexual abuse often recreates itself within the survivor as eating disorders, as depression, as suicide, as self mutilation and that when we can murder the rapist inside of us that thrives on our own suffering, that we can find that healing.

KH: What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge facing feminism today?

MC: The possible defunding of Planned Parenthood! We’re basically going back in time. Why are we trying to turn back time? We’re looking at this huge campaign to defund Planned Parenthood that’s based on lies, based on misogyny, based on the idea that somehow we are public space, that our bodies are part of America, that they can legislate our uterus. The fact is that Planned Parenthood is there for so many other reasons besides abortion. The most troubling thing is that they want to take away reproductive health for low-income women. And that is something that we cannot let happen. There are so many lies around Planned Parenthood. And they’re not particularly good ones because they can be fact checked so easily. All we are asking is that people check the source.

KH: Why do you identify as feminist and how is feminism present in your work? 

MC: I think I’ve always been a feminist. I don’t know when I actually started implementing the word but I’ve always felt it growing up, mostly through standup. I started standup very early, 14 or 15, and I knew that I had that point of view. I started identifying as a feminist in the 70s, I guess! I feel like a baby bra burner! Now feminism has gone through a lot different incarnations, even to the point where some women were not calling themselves feminist and didn’t want to be associated with feminism. But I think feminism has become much more aggressive and much more progressive, especially in comedy, with people like Amy Schumer, and Tig Notaro, and hopefully myself. I really like the way feminism is on display with people like Lena Dunham and Mindy Kaling — there’s so much great stuff happening, so much great comedy.

Feminism isn’t just a white middle class movement. It is a white middle class movement. It’s also a movement for people of color. It’s also a movement for poor people. It’s a movement for people who need to empower themselves, no matter who they are. We need to understand that we still don’t make equal pay, no matter how much you work. Feminism is a lot of things. And the expression of feminism is different for everyone. The patriarchy likes to shame us and belittle us by criticizing feminism. Feminism is a way to heal from patriarchy, from abuse, from inequality. There’s so much more involved in feminism that goes beyond race and class and that goes beyond countries’ borders.

I’m a feminist because I have no other alternative.  I’m a feminist through and through.

All my work is feminist. My latest show, PsyCHO, is feminist. I’m saying what I need to say, and everything is on my terms. My song Fat Pussy is feminist. It’s about fat pride, enjoying my body as opposed to feeling bad about it.

KH: You’re going to a desert island, and you’re allowed to take one food, one drink, and one feminist. What do you pick?

MC: I want buttered kettle corn with vodka and Gloria Steinem.

Continue reading “The Feministing Five: Margaret Cho”

8 Most Homophobic Religious Protest Signs

These abhorrent messages are courtesy of Christians, Jews and Muslims.

These hateful homophobic church signs are made not by clergy, but rather the flocks they shepherd: Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. Enjoy!

1. Loophole for lesbians? This sign focuses on the solution to the “problem” of gay marriage. And that solution is hanging. The sign, on display at an Indianapolis rally during the National Organization for Marriage’s Summer for Marriage tour, is based on the book of Leviticus: “If a man also lie with mankind the way he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.” Sure, this open call for executing gay men is way harsh. But it is surprisingly promising for lesbian women. Guess they can lie with women however they want. Also, where are the signs for enforcing the other punishments laid out in Leviticus, like killing people who curse their parents; shunning people who shave or cut their hair; wearing clothes made of mixed fabrics; having sex with menstruating women; and banning flat-nosed, “lame” or “blind” people from entering the altar of god.

2. GAY: Gay-related acronyms for Yahweh. If you’ve ever wished you had a mnemonic device for bigotry, you’re in luck! You’ll never forget why you hate the homos, thanks to this helpful and clever sign, which was held at a rally attended by 2,000 people in support of a North Carolina pastor who was under attack. What was his crime? He offended people during a Mother’s Day sermon when he quoted the Bible verbatim and said, “I figured a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers….Build a great big large fence—50 or 100 miles long—put all the lesbians in there. Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals and have that fence electrified so they can’t get out. And you know what, in a few years, they’ll die out. Do you know why? They can’t reproduce!”

3. If these anuses could talk. This sign is from an anti-gay protest organized by religious groups in Kampala, Uganda in 2007. It gets right to the orifice of the matter: “Anus 4 defication.” The tagline, “A spoon is a spoon & a spade is a spade,” reminds us that an anus is an anus. And it’s for defecation. Nothing more. Nothing less.

4. God loves “God Hates Fags” apparel for kids! This isn’t a sign, per se, but it is an effective and kid-friendly way to spread the homophobic and hateful word of god. Kids love shirts that say God Hates Fags (I mean, just look at how happy the little girl is)! And God Loves Parents who use their children as ideological props and dress them in propaganda expressing something kids definitely don’t understand! With these Westboro Baptist Church motto shirts, you can really wear your lack of heart on your children’s sleeve.

5. Men at devious work.Sometimes, a picture speaks 1,000 words. And when the words are in Serbian, it’s especially helpful. This is another kid-friendly and accessible way to say, “I’m really insecure.” Continue reading “8 Most Homophobic Religious Protest Signs”

9 Most Homophobic Church Signs

They’re not exactly preaching peace and tolerance.

Texan televangelist John Hagee called same-sex marriage supporters “counterfeit Christians.” A pastor in Tampa, Florida refused to perform a funeral service when he learned the deceased man had been gay, because that would have been “blasphemous.” And Pastor Steve Washburn of First Baptist Pflugerville, Texas, is warning that pastors will be imprisoned for speaking out in favor of same-sex marriage. And that was just this week.

Certain church leaders certainly seem to be re-prioritizing Jesus’ to-do list. They’ve decided to ignore the Bible’s minor points, like turn the other cheek and that whole Golden Rule thing. Also, they’re not going to worry so much about the poor. These shepherds, instead, demonstrate their love for Jesus Christ by hating on homosexuality. They instruct their flock by broadcasting messages of homophobia—literally—on church signs and marquees. Here are some of the worst church signs preaching against brotherly love.

1. Ménage a trois with God. This sign, which was placed in front of the Devon Park United Methodist Church polling site in Wilmington, North Carolina, may go down in history for being the first, and probably only, religious sign to push a threesome as an alternative to same-sex marriage. The sign’s message is so urgent, no time or plastic could be spared for punctuation: “A true marriage male and female and god.” The takeaway? Marriage exists between one man and one woman and the omnipresent voyeur known as god.

Ménage a trois with God

2. God good, gays bad! In this sign, on display at the Santa Clara Jesus Is Lord Baptist Church in California, the beauty is in its simplicity: “God is good/Gays are bad/vote Yes on Prop Eight.” If only all get-out-the-vote initiatives were this straightforward and Manichean, voting rates would go through the roof. Prop 8, the statewide ballot proposition in California to ban same-sex marriage, brought together churches, synagogues, Mormons, Catholics, evangelicals and Orthodox Jews, who were able to put aside their religious differences and come together in a beautiful interfaith collaborative effort to strip people of their civil rights. Because, at the end of the day, we may call him different names, but we all believe in the same god, who happens to be very homophobic.

God good, gays bad!

3. Homophobic haiku. This short and catchy “Gay Is not Okay” sign appeared outside of Fort Des Moines Church of Christ in South Des Moines, Iowa. Pastor Mike DeMastus was merely using the church’s illuminated marquee to advertise the theme of his upcoming Sunday sermon, something he does for every sermon every week. Besides being an effective promotional tool, the minimalist text is just 12 syllables shy of being a homophobic haiku. Continue reading “9 Most Homophobic Church Signs”