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Feminist finds unlikely allies

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SEPTEMBER 19, 2013

Now, I’m not saying these guys are perfect. Far from it, in fact. I’m not even saying they’re feminists. That’s Ryan Gosling’s thing, and I wouldn’t dare try to steal any thunder from the demigod of male feminists. It would be idolatry and, I’d  have to answer to the high court of 14-year-old girls from across the globe. But I’ve recently realized Louis C.K., Tupac Shakur and Jon Hamm have some important things to say on behalf of us ladies. Although they may not be the people you would expect to pipe up about women’s issues, I think their messages are worth sharing.

Louis C.K. has been called a “rape apologist” for allegedly supporting Daniel Tosh’s show after Tosh told a particularly offensive rape joke. In light of the accusations, he did what every celebrity with a good publicist does when he or she is the subject of outrage and hopped right on “The Daily Show” to straighten things out.

On the show, C.K. explained that he did not mean to defend Tosh’s offensive joke and that he learned a lot because of the miscommunication. “I’ve read some blogs during this whole thing that enlightened me to some things I didn’t know,” he said. “This woman said rape is something that polices women’s lives. They have a narrow corridor. They can’t go out late, they can’t go to certain neighborhoods, they can’t dress a certain way.” Ordinarily, I’d say he was just trying to save face after the social media maelstrom. But something really exciting started to happen: Pro-woman sentiments quickly began seeping into his stand up.

In his comedy special “Live at Beacon Theater,” C.K. defends women who don’t want to have as much sex as their male counterparts do and explains (quite accurately) why some women want to cuddle after sex — a topic that most people, especially other comedians, used to belittle women for a cheap laugh. In response to men who claim women are “needy” for wanting to cuddle, C.K. says, “She’s not needy, you idiot, she’s horny. Because you did nothing for her. You did absolutely nothing.” Although C.K. is the antithesis of political correctness, he hilariously ridicules those who accuse women of unreasonable sexual prudeness.

Then, on a vastly different plane from C.K., there’s Tupac Shakur. Hip-hop has always been notoriously saturated with misogyny. Yet during his prolific career, Shakur actually wrote many songs that were explicitly feminist. This is most apparent in his song “Keep Ya Head Up,” which takes on numerous topics on the feminist agenda, touching on single-motherhood, domestic violence and rape. In it, Tupac advises that men respect and defend females, lest we raise a generation taught to hate and admonish the very women that gave birth to them.

You might be thinking, “But what about all the Tupac references to ‘bitches’?” In the 1990s, politician and civil rights activist Dolores Tucker asked the same question. But if you take a look at his song “Wonda Why They Call U Bitch,” Tupac responds directly to Tucker’s attacks, expressing that a woman’s sex life is her business and saying he finds no issue with any woman wanting to make a better life for herself.What he does find issue with is the type of woman who money-grubs to accomplish these things, and he is unapologetic for criticizing them in his music.

Last, we have Jon Hamm, commonly known for his role as Don Draper on AMC’s hit series “Mad Men.” In the show, Hamm plays one of television’s most infamous chauvinistic lady-players and adopts the degrading attitude many men openly expressed toward women in the 1960s, both in the workplace and at home.

But outside of his role as Draper, Jon Hamm works hard to rebuke his character’s sexist treatment of women. Along with fellow cast members, Hamm spoke at a sponsored benefit for the Rape Treatment Center in Los Angeles about how it is essential that younger generations have male role models who do not tolerate sexual violence. He also criticizes the chauvinism he portrays in “Mad Men,” explaining, “Working wives were a rarity, because their place was in the home, bringing up the kids … That was a fact of life then. But it wouldn’t be tolerated today, and that’s quite right in my book.” Pour yourself another cold one, Mr. Draper. I’ll drink to that.

Louis C.K. has somehow managed to offend every stigmatized group in the book with his standup. Tupac was sent to prison for doing several illegal things in the 1990s. Jon Hamm’s SNL episode was just OK. These men have obvious flaws. Yet they nevertheless prove a valuable lesson I would like people to recognize: comedy, hip-hop and being a suave male do not have to be mutually exclusive with respecting women.

Contact Liz Zarka at 


SEPTEMBER 19, 2013