Amy Schumer and Inclusive Feminism
Amy Schumer and Inclusive Feminism
I fell in love with Amy Schumer's comedy the minute I saw it.
I’ve loved many a female comedy role model such as Mindy Kaling and Tina Fey, but while they are incredibly smart and ridiculously beautiful, Amy Schumer is the “every woman,” which made me love her even more. She isn't the thinnest, she isn't the youngest and she doesn’t filter herself. And although Fey and Kaling are amazing feminist advocates and have been making many a stride for women, they are still cautious comedians. Amy, on the other hand, isn’t a “comedic actor” - she is just plain funny and very, very real.
As I learned more and more about Amy Schumer, my love for her got deeper and deeper. I remember falling on the floor laughing whilst watching “12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer” in which she tried to appeal to a group of twelve men on whether she was pretty and young enough to have her own comedy show. I also watched her show, Inside Amy Schumer, religiously. I even went as far as studying her old stand-up performances. As I did, I realised that Amy wasn't trying to show that women as superior to men; she was demonstrating just how ridiculous some of the stereotypes and things are that men say about women. She wasn't aiming to be anyone's role model but instead was just having fun and being herself; or, as one would say, ‘keeping it real’. Could we ask for better?
However, she fell from grace in my eyes on June 28th when I first read an in-depth piece from The Guardian about a joke with the punch line, ''I used to date Latino guys. Now I prefer consensual.” I rubbed my eyes and wondered if I had read wrong. How could a feminist role model make such an insensitive comment? Her apology made me dislike her even more as she said, ''It is a joke and it is funny. I am not going to start joking about safe material.''
While the initial joke was something she wrote before coming into the public eye, there was no excuse to be ignorant and continue to offend some of her most true and devoted fans. As she received more backlash, she realized that as a role model she had to be more considerate of her diverse fans and apologized, saying, “Once I realized I had more eyes and ears on me and had an influence I stopped telling jokes like that on stage.”
However, the damage had already been done.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Feminists like Amy Schumer are part of the reason why many women do not identify with the feminist movement, even if they believe in the principles of feminism. If all women are to receive equal rights as men, then we must also consider women of different color and ethnicity. You cannot truly call yourself a feminist who works to disprove stereotypes regarding women if you continue to engage in racial stereotyping.
This has brought about the rise of other movements alternative to feminism - such as “womanism” - which places women of color more in the spotlight and prioritizes different issues faced by women.
In stand-up comedy comedians should not be censored - but they do need to be mindful of exactly who their supporters are if they wish to not offend them. Thus, for feminist comedians as high-profile as Amy Schumer, they must be extra-mindful in order to remain the feminist icons they make themselves out to be.
Dawn Rafal is a sarcastic, adventurous New Yorker (though most of her wardrobe is not black) who will be heading to the Midwest starting in September to learn the art of Communication Studies at Northwestern University.