Katie Roiphe defends risque jokes at work, but then an arts story wonders if women comics are going too far
The New York Times thinks naughty ladies are just da bomb. People still say “da bomb,” right? That’s a thing? On Sunday, the Paper of Record gave Katie Roiphe free rein to gas on “in favor of dirty jokes and risqué remarks,” which, to her mind, are what those whiny girls are complaining about when they’re being sexually harassed. “Show me a smart, competent young professional woman who is utterly derailed by a verbal unwanted sexual advance or an inappropriate comment about her appearance,” she wrote, between boasts about her Princeton pedigree, “and I will show you a rare spotted owl.” Show me evidence Katie Roiphe has ever held a real job, and I will eat a rare spotted owl.
Not willing to let any grass grow under its zeitgeisty, metaphoric feet, today the Times notices “Female Comedians, Breaking the Taste-Taboo Ceiling.” Have you heard of this Sarah Silverman person? Because apparently she is rather raunchy. And lest you find yourself wondering how you woke up in 1998, and if so, whether Dawson’s ever going to hook up with Joey, let me assure you, this story actually ran in the New York Times in November 2011. Coming next, a piece on how people are using emoticons. Oh, wait.
In the first four paragraphs of his piece on taboo-busting babes, Jason Zinoman opens with a 1979 quote from Johnny Carson, segues into a 2007 Vanity Fair piece by Christopher Hitchens, and lands with a flourish on a decade-old Sarah Silverman joke. As those saucy lady comics might say, this story is dustier than your grandmother’s vagina.
After bringing us up to speed on Silverman’s latest rape jokes, what do you think Zinoman covered next? That’s right, Whitney Cummings, “another coarse, sexually frank female stand-up comic.” Despite also doing rape jokes, Zinoman finds her “not particularly risky.”
Cummings, like Silverman, is both attractive and comfortable around the F-bomb — and a reliable marvel to the Times. Just two months ago, Andrew Goldman was asking her about being “objectively attractive,” what she wears to meetings, and whether she slept her way to fame and is “too dumb to own a car.” It was hilarious.
You’d think the next place to go from here would be Chelsea Handler. Last spring, after all, the Times lovingly noted that “her body has the pre-silicone lushness of a ’60s Playmate” while cooing that she admits, “I try to make fun of everyone as often as possible, especially minorities.” But shockingly – shocking like a rape joke involving a black guy shocking – the Times veers to Amy Schumer. Schumer, who is not Chelsea Handler, is “blond and bubbly” with “wholesome, apple-cheeked cheer,” and an act that “spouts proudly prejudiced views, mean-girl put-downs and meticulously recounted sexual exploits.” See, it’s completely different.
I’m just a cotton-headed set of ovaries on two feet, but I can’t help noticing a recurring theme. Whether it’s coming from Katie Roiphe or a culture writer, there’s a weird mix of fascination and repugnance toward the gal with a seemingly manly swagger here. She’s so cool, she can even laugh off sexual assault. Why can’t more women be like her? And she gets to say that stuff about vaginas that other people can’t. You know, like Jay-Z can say the N-word and gay men can call each other queer. Imagine the freedom! She’s also hot. Who else feels a 1,200 word think piece coming on?
It’s not that certain female comics don’t perpetuate this attention-getting shtick — if I never hear Sarah Silverman deliver an abortion punch line in that baby-talk monotone again, it’ll be too soon. But the bangable-broad-with-a-potty-mouth story is approximately as relevant as the moms-sometimes-wear-nice-clothes-outside one. What’s amazing isn’t that a woman can cuss with her pretty little lipsticked mouth. It’s that this jive-ass story is still being written, 10 years after it was vaguely topical. It’s the astonishment that Johnny Carson’s 1979 opinions no longer hold quite so much sway, and that sometimes people who can grow babies in their tummies can curse and talk about their periods or your erections. Guess the cat’s out of the bag on that one. So congratulations to the Times on something truly original there. They’ve made the notion of breaking taboos utterly boring.
More Related Stories
- What's 2013's "Gone Girl"? Here are this summer's best reads
- Fox executive behind "Does Someone Have to Go?" leaving the network
- Hillary Clinton memoir shows up on Amazon
- A brief history of Jennifer Weiner's literary fights
- First look: Joaquin Phoenix, Marion Cotillard shine in "The Immigrant”
- No women allowed: Summer music festivals are dudefests, again
- Vivica A. Fox tapes anti-gun PSA in front of poster for her movie
- This is what Guy Fieri looks like as a balloon
- Mariah Carey's rambling, cursing, dress-popping "Good Morning America" concert
- Fox's new reality TV show threatens regular people with unemployment
- Amanda Bynes arrested after hurling bong from window
- Steamy lesbian-sex movie has Cannes abuzz
- Stop what you're doing and go watch "Borgen"
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
- Mike Judge: "Bowling for Columbine" made me pro-gun
- New York chef serves up eight-course meal around "Arrested Development" jokes
- HLN: Jodi Arias "pleading for her life" got us a ratings win!
- Michael Ian Black on Maron feud: He "considered me a poseur"
- Chekhov's story mirrors Russia's own
- Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina denied parole
- Joe Francis apologizes for calling jury "retarded"
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11