The Feministing Five: Margaret Cho

photo by Mary Taylor via
photo by Mary Taylor via
Originally posted on November 16, 2015 on

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

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”

“Asking For It”: A one-woman comedy show that skewers rape culture

image via
image via

Did you hear the one about the dancer/performance-artist/comedian who did a funny one-woman show about rape? 

Though the majority of rape jokes told at comedy clubs are neither funny nor empowering, I’ve always thought that rape humor, in and of itself, is not inherently and automatically off limits. In comedy, as in all forms of art, the issue isn’t the content, but rather the perspective and framing.

image via youtube
image via youtube

Adrienne Truscott’s one-woman show, “Asking For It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy And Little Else!which I saw at Joe’s Pub, proves not only that rape jokes can be acceptable but that they can be powerful tools of protest and education.

Over the course of an hour, Truscott, a choreographer, circus acrobat, dancer, writer, and comedian, skewers rape culture, taking on Bill Cosby, Todd Akin, Daniel Tosh and more, while wearing a wig on her head, high heels on her feet, and a jean jacket/ rolled up dress/bra(s) above her waist and for almost the entire piece, absolutely nothing over the area between her waist and ankles.

Truscott describes her humor as twisted and dark, in an interview with Australia’s SBS2 The Feed (see the video below), but is careful to distinguish between humor which challenges rape culture and humor which perpetuates it: Continue reading ““Asking For It”: A one-woman comedy show that skewers rape culture”

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

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

Delhi rapist on victim’s death: ‘girls are more responsible for rape’, ‘shouldn’t fight back’

image via wikipedia
image via wikipedia

I almost can’t believe that anyone would ever say aloud the words spoken by Mukesh Singh, one of the men convicted for the brutal rape and murder of Jyoti Singh (no relation), a 23-year old medical school student. Jyoti and her male companion had just gone to see the film The Life of Pi when they got on an off-duty Delhi bus one Sunday night in December 2012. On the bus were five men and one teenage male who knocked her friend unconscious with a rod before raping Jyoti and penetrating her with a rod with so much force she had to have most of her intestines removed. She died two weeks later from these injuries she had sustained to her abdomen.

Mukesh Singh defends himself by saying he didn’t rape Jyoti. But the court found that DNA evidence indicated otherwise.  And let’s for argument’s sake say he didn’t rape her, at very least he drove the bus as the other men, one of whom was his brother, took turns essentially raping her to death. And the police also say that Mukesh tried to run Jyoti and her friend over, after they were thrown off the bus.

Continue Reading…

This week in rape culture: it’s not rape if you’re married, contact the rapist, or work in prison

image via shutterstock
image via shutterstock

There’s so much rape culture in the world it’s nearly impossible to keep up! So, I’ve taken the liberty of gathering just some of the best examples of rape culture from this week. It turns out a lot of things we think of as rape aren’t really rape at all. This is great news for all of you out there who thought you were victims or survivors of rape. Congratulations! You’re not!

So here, without further ado… I present… #YouKnowYoureNotRapedIf

1. You are unconscious but your non-rapist is your boyfriend or husband. State Rep. Angela Romero (D-Salt Lake City) presented a bill which would clarify the state’s legal definition of rape. Up until now, rape was defined as taking place when “The victim has not consented and the actor knows the victim is unconscious, unaware that the act is occurring, or physically unable to resist.” Romero, being the extremist, man-hating, feminist that she is, wanted to remove, “the victim has not consented.” Her radical reasoning is that, “if somebody is unconscious you probably shouldn’t attempt to try to have sexual relations with them.” In other words, you shouldn’t be allow to have sex with someone who is unconscious and then say it’s not rape because they didn’t “say” no.

Continue Reading


Don Lemon’s 14-second apology: Sorry for asking rape victim why she didn’t bite off Bill Cosby’s dick

CNN anchor Don Lemon 021114 [YouTube]
CNN anchor Don Lemon 021114 [YouTube]
UPDATE: Right After I published the post below, Don Lemon went on TV to apologize for his question: “As I am a victim myself I would never want to suggest that any victim could have prevented a rape. If my question to her struck anyone as insensitive, I’m sorry as that certainly was not my intention.”

The apology was so thoughtful and heartfelt, it took all of 14 seconds. 

CNN host Don Lemon is being mocked and criticized, and rightly so, for his incredibly victim-blaming interview of a woman who said she was raped by Bill Cosby. What makes Lemon’s insensitivity and inappropriateness even more disturbing is the fact that he himself is the survivor of sexual abuse.

Read the rest of this article at RawStory

9 songs that are rape-ier than you realized

Singer Robin Thicke performs at the Highline Ballroom on Oct. 23, 2013 in New York City. [AFP]
Singer Robin Thicke performs at the Highline Ballroom on Oct. 23, 2013 in New York City. [AFP]

There is no shortage of misogynist, pervy, douchy and rape-y songs out there. Compiling them all into a list would be a Sisyphean Task, and yet, dear reader, here you are, reading a listicle of 9 songs that deserve special notice for their disturbing content. How, you must be asking, did I manage to wade through the ample waters of disgusting musical content and filter out the exceptionally offensive droplets? It’s not easy, I have to admit.

And yet do it I must. Some of these songs are obviously pervy, while others are more like musical sneak attacks, if you will, closeted in their sleazeitude, and, may go unnoticed. You might, in other words, find yourself singing them without realizing that you are condoning a song with a message you would never support. How does this happen? These songs may hide their content through their melodies, which can be deceptively romantic and and pop-ish, or through their lyrics, which may be unintelligible or are so pervy that you’re in denial about it.


Blame It (On the Alcohol), the 2008 song by Jamie Foxx and T-Pain. is another obviously rape-culture reflecting/ endorsing anthem. And it’s the story of a boy encouraging a girl to stop acting like she doesn’t want to have sex:

Ay she say she usually don’t  But I know that she front
Cause shawty know what she want
But she don’t wanna seem like she easy

Foxx clearly states his intention to use alcohol to get the girl he’s wooing to have sex with him: “Just one more round and you’re down I’d know it.”

Foxx demonstrates his familiarity with various alcohols and their various rape-facilitating qualities:

Blame it on the goose
Got you feeling loose
Blame it on Patron
Got you in the zone
Blame it on the a a a a a alcohol (x2)
Blame it on the vodka
Blame it on the henny
Blame it on the blue top
Got you feeling dizzy
Blame it on the a a a a a alcohol (x2)

Continue reading “9 songs that are rape-ier than you realized”