A Sarah Haskins movie?

Sarah Haskins has sold a screenplay. Does this mean feminist comedy actually has a prayer in Hollywood?

Published April 10, 2009 1:56PM (EDT)

My abiding love for Sarah Haskins is well-documented, so you can imagine how geeked I was to read that the "Target Women" star is finding success in Hollywood. "I just sold a screenplay with my writing partner, a friend I knew from college," she told Kay Steiger. "That's very exciting. The protagonists are two girls. That's been awesome and hopefully it'll get made." Oh, please, let it get made! A feminist comedy? Swoon.

Haskins claims to be "surprised" that people think of her as a feminist, though -- which surprises me a bit, since she was headlining a feminist conference when the label came up. Says Steiger, "To Haskins, her perspective is just 'normal.'" I guess I can see that, since she's coming into her own as a comic at a time when Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are huge, and as a screenwriter at a time when there are enough other women in the industry to support each other: "I feel like female producers maybe on the next level like TV or film are inclined to look at a female-oriented project or pitch and be a little kinder to it," Haskins told Steiger. "You know, maybe take a second look at it because people are looking for young female writers." But still, it seems a stretch to call her perspective "normal" in the world of comedy and/or Hollywood. Haskins herself indirectly makes that point when she says, "Women [are] proving that they are funny and can be funny. We are finally getting those opportunities and that opens up more opportunities." Yeah, the fact that women are still in the process of proving they can do comedy in the 21st century kinda belies the whole "normal" thing. Even Steiger, who has plenty of F-word cred herself, didn't catch herself saying, "Haskins has pulled off quite a unique feat: She is funny and feminist." One more time, class: "Funny and feminist" is actually far from unique. "Feminist and paid to be funny," however, remains awfully rare.

As exciting as it is to see Haskins ascending, Amy Poehler's new show starting, Wanda Sykes' talk show on the horizon, and Tina Fey continuing to kick ass, let's not forget that there's also a comedic rape scene coming to a theater near you this very weekend. Or that those who take issue with it are accused, as ever, of being humorless, while the dude who wrote a rape gag with the devastatingly original, edgy punch line of "she wanted it" is presumed to know from comedy, at least to the extent that somebody green-lighted that shit. Meanwhile, the fate of Haskins' screenplay is very much unknown, and as Steiger points out, "only 12 percent of screenwriters in the top-grossing films last year were women." My angry feminist pea brain has gathered that patent absurdity is widely considered humorous, and surely, this juxtaposition of facts qualifies -- yet oddly, I'm not laughing.


By Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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