How To Prove That You’re an Ally for Women in Comedy
This article refers to recent events for women in improv comedy. Although a satirical list of suggestions, I have heard nearly all of them in real life.
You’re a decent guy. Not too good or bad-looking, clever to a fault, fun but also understanding. You and your best buds are comedians. You all hang out with women who are into comedy. They’re chill, funny girls. You don’t want to date them, they don’t want to date you, but who knows? Maybe one day.
It’s crazy. All of a sudden, these chill, funny girls are posting things on Facebook about really dark stuff. Like being molested. Or worse than molested. By guys you know! They’re suddenly angry about all of this “institutional sexism” that, to be honest, you never really saw.
This is not fun anymore. But you’re a Very Understanding Guy. You want to seem supportive, even if you don’t entirely get it. You might want to date them one day. So how do you respond?
Some suggestions for how guys can support comedy women (you might want to date) with their recent feminist problems:
- SAY SOMETHING! Say a lot. You can’t just be quiet when women talk. That’s not what they want. They don’t just want to be heard. You gotta get in there. Respond to their posts. Post your own updates about feminism. Post twice as many as them! Otherwise, they will wonder if you get it. Because this is definitely about you.
- DIFFUSE THE TENSION WITH JOKES: A great way to help women who are upset is to lighten the mood with jokes. They might say something like, “I once tried to get booked for a show, and the guy told me he already had a blond girl.” Or, “One out of six women get raped.” These are great opportunities for riffing! You might say, “At least you can dye your hair to get ahead!” or “The other five sound like my type.” Or, “Did something happen recently in comedy? I’ve been napping.” It’s your job to remind them that it’s still all about humor.
- KEEP REPEATING THAT YOU ARE AN ALLY OF WOMEN: It’s hard for women to tell who is actually on their side. Provide specific examples that show that you are one of the good guys. Like, “I actually prefer to work with women. They’re more sensitive, and that’s sometimes needed.” Or, “I will beat up that asshole for you! (Here’s my number, if you ever need to talk freely and openly.)” Invite women to your shows so that they can see how not all male comedy is sexist!
- HELP WOMEN BECOME STRONGER: A lot of women in comedy have been harassed so much they don’t have a voice. You can show that you’re an ally by raising issues that they’re afraid to raise, like “Why don’t women feel like they can be as funny as men?” and “What happens to women in childhood that makes them so afraid of saying no to men?” If they don’t understand how terrible they have it, explain it to them forcefully.
- USE WOMEN’S ISSUES AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO DISCUSS WITH OTHER GUYS HOW TO SCORE DATES: Harassment brings up a lot of questions for men to work out too. For instance, when is the best time to let a woman know you like her, if you only see her at work or rehearsals? How do you know when you’ve crossed the line from pursuing a woman to tormenting her? You have some really good ideas about how men should treat women decently, and now is the perfect time to talk about it a lot — when women are going through political trauma.
- TRY TO FIGURE OUT WHAT WOMEN WHO HAVE BEEN HARASSED REALLY WANT IN A MAN: Then again, if you’re nice to women, they don’t want you. It makes you wonder if maybe they were harassed because they responded to a super creep in the first place. Are they so insecure that they can’t say no to bad guys? WAIT! Don’t say this. You will sound like you are not an ally. Instead, think very carefully about a way to say this without actually saying it. (If that fails, just say it. Everyone else is.)
- FLATTER THEM: Some of the discussions around your female friends’ outcries might make them more upset. This is called retraumatization. If you see this happening, even if you caused it, make sure to remind them that they are awesome people. Don’t just focus on physical attributes; be a feminist. Tell them they are “sexy when they are mad.” Call them “brave” a lot, and pat them on the head while you say it.
- PROBLEM SOLVE THE “WOMAN PROBLEM”: Nobody wants there to be sexism! Women hate it, and you definitely don’t want to hear about it. There have to be solutions. Contribute your ideas, like, “You probably haven’t thought about going to the police. You’re welcome.” Or, “Put a different man in charge!” If none of that works, say something that brings resolution to the situation. For instance, “I guess this is just a complicated situation for all of us, and there’s nothing more to say.” That should shut everyone up for awhile.