Yesterday, Amy Schumer was pushed to address comments by Kurt Metzger, a past writer for Inside Amy Schumer. Metzger posted a number of sarcastic comments, apparently pissed off that a fellow comedian was being held to account over accusations of sexual assault.
After a woman posted a warning about fellow comedian Aaron Glaser in a private Facebook group for female comedians last week, saying that “multiple women” had accused Glaser of sexual assault and harassment, he was banned from Upright Citizens Brigade theater, where he hosted a monthly stand-up showcase.
Metzger responded angrily on Facebook, mocking the idea of believing women’s accounts of rape as well as the reasons women choose not to go to the police after being sexually assaulted.
After incessant demands that Schumer make a statement about Metzger’s words, she tweeted that she is “saddened and disappointed” in his comments and that the comedian no longer works for her.
I am so saddened and disappointed in Kurt Metzger. He is my friend and a great writer and I couldn't be more against his recent actions.
— Amy Schumer (@amyschumer) August 17, 2016
Kurt does not work for me. He is not a writer on my show. Please stop asking me about it. His words are not mine.
— Amy Schumer (@amyschumer) August 17, 2016
For many fans, though, Schumer’s response was insufficient. In an article at The Guardian, Liz Arcury, a writer and comedian, is quoted as saying:
“Amy has an incredible platform to raise women up and speak out against rape culture and misogyny. She has done an amazing job of that in the past, and my fellow female comedians and I were obsessive fans and admirers. It is such a disappointment to see that she is not only continuing to employ him on her show, but is also taking the aggressive action of blocking my fellow feminists and I who dare to question why she continues to work with him…
…She can say that she is ‘disappointed’ all she wants, but unless she takes firm action, she has lost a fan in me and many women in the comedy community,” she said.”
For others, their minds were already made up about Schumer — her mere association with Metzger made her worthy of rejection or attack.
Kurt Metzger has written on 39
Episodes of Inside Amy Schumer. You're ducking out. Be better Amy https://t.co/0PdVD9kqwd
— Jen (@jenb_davies) August 18, 2016
Metzger is surely an asshole, but the subsequent focus on Schumer and the demands that she account for the words of a male comedian, seems not only uncalled for, but a backwards approach.
While female solidarity is important, one has to consider why it is that women are so-often blamed for the shitty behaviour of men. If I’m honest, I do understand the inclination towards anger at women, having felt frustrated by mothers, wives, and girlfriends who ignore or excuse their sons’, boyfriends’, or husbands’ misogynist behaviour. I have to fight this knee-jerk response, knowing that I am socialized not to hold fathers, brothers, and male friends accountable in the same way. Many of us find it easier or more satisfying to judge or blame women, rather than to confront men.
We see this trend happening in a broader way when it comes to public figures, for example in the way that Hillary Clinton is so often held accountable for the philandering, predatorial behaviour of her husband. We did the same to Bill Cosby’s wife, Camille, who recently said she was “livid and humiliated” by Bill’s actions but who some said was “as complicit as her husband.” Rachel Roy was harassed endlessly online after it came out that she was Jay Z’s (likely) mistress, yet few had words for Jay. Moreover, feminist writers have been blamed, judged, and trashed, many times over, for their associations with men who are outed as assholes (or worse) or whose behaviour is seen as not being in-line with our feminist politics (the guilt by association thing, in general, is fierce online). While I do wish women would stick together and have felt betrayed, myself, by women who stand by their man instead of standing with women, the problem is that when we blame women for the words and behaviour of men, we let men off the hook.
In this particular case, Schumer has not, in fact, stood by Metzger, but seems to be taking even more heat, now, than Metzger himself. It’s clear that Schumer is being targeted, in part, because she is well-known. People see her as someone who holds power and who, therefore, can do something about a man like Metzger. But I also believe Schumer is being harassed because women are an easier target. Those who are deriding Schumer know they will easily gain support for picking on her and can feel righteous in the process (despite their own personal relationships with very flawed men). We, as a society, often take the position that men are a lost cause (“boys will be boys!”) and untouchable in many ways, but we know that women are not. And boy oh boy do we love to tear down women.
While feminists are smeared and criticized and picked on for their every word online, men in actual positions of power — men who are actually supporting oppressive systems in more insidious (but far more damaging ways)– are largely left alone. Men who fund misogynist industries or who actually exploit women themselves are rarely targeted by those who work to destroy, smear, or silence women who are perceived to have erred. It’s much easier and feels more productive, even, to vilify or hate an individual woman who is accessible and can easily be taken down a notch than it does to go after a man who will likely be unaffected by women’s anger.
While Schumer does hold more relative power than the average woman, does it really make sense to accuse her of being anti-feminist or to try to destroy her career or boycott her work because she is associated with an asshole?
It's almost like we should be careful about deciding that celebrities are feminist icons.
— Andi Zeisler (@andizeisler) August 17, 2016
— Lauren Ingram (@laureningram) August 17, 2016
If you're going to see Amy Schumer tonight, please keep in mind that she's the quintessential white feminist, a rape apologist, and racist
— hel (@therealhel) November 7, 2015
There are plenty of reasons to be critical of Schumer’s feminism and her comedy, but demanding she be accountable for a man’s words and accusing her of “not giving a fuck about women” on account of that man’s words is irrational and unfair. Part of the reason men have avoided accountability for so long is because they aren’t held to account for the things they do with their mouths and dicks. We much prefer to talk about individual women’s “choices” than we do men’s behaviour. We see this in society’s obsession with the “agency” and “empowerment” of women in porn and prostitution, while we completely ignore the men who fuel the sex industry. We see this in the way that feminists are often accused of “violence” due to their words, challenging actual male violence, while the actual perpetrators of violence against women remain invisible.
Men are responsible for the violence or misogyny they perpetrate and women are responsible for their own words, not the words of other people (namely men-people). Hold Schumer accountable for the things she says and does, not the things men she is associated with say and do. Gleefully hating women solely because of men’s actions constitutes misogyny, not feminism, and so long as women are blamed for the things men do, we will continue to divide, rather than conquer.
@boodleoops Well of course. Because feminism is the radical notion that women are responsible for male violence.
— Sarah Ditum (@sarahditum) August 18, 2016