Monday’s episode of Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast featured Chelsea Handler. It was pretty much what I expected, but what stood out to me was the way she handled Maron’s questions about sexism.
They were discussing Handler’s relationship with a producer at the E! television network, which began after her show premiered, yet still led to speculation that she only had a television show because she was dating/having sex with him.
MARON:It’s like fundamental sexism to…Obviously the show is a success, and you’ve written these books and you do standup but people are like..
HANDLER: I know, I mean, it’s like come on. Thanks a lot for all the credit!
MARON: Do you think that’s sexist? That attitude towards you?
HANDLER: No I don’t. Sexism is bullshit to me. I don’t even buy into that anymore. I mean men and women are equal. And that’s that in my mind.
Later in the interview, Maron asked again:
MARON: So you don’t even engage in the dialogue, that people are harder on you because you are a woman?
HANDLER: No. I don’t really care about that. No! I mean that, I feel like talking about that makes it real, it’s like, for me, that’s never been an issue. It’s like, I’m not I mean who cares? It’s not a sex issue. There’s funny women. There’s funny men.
At first I thought that this is an example of the accomplishments of feminism – powerful women feel like sexism is not an issue in their lives. It’s disappointing that she doesn’t think about why that might be so, or that it might not be true for other women, however.
Then I looked at the comments on the WTF website. Now, I have once commented online to Marc Maron that he should ask Carlos Mencia why he’s a no talent hack with a minstrel show. So I am not above writing mean things about celebrities on the internet. But looking through the comments about this episode, I lost track of the number of times Handler was called a bitch, someone insinuated that any women who don’t like her are, “insecure ladywhales” and a moderator posted that he had to delete many comments calling her a cunt:
Come on, people. You are free to dislike and debate the relative merits of anyone who is on the show, but in the end these people are still our guests. Let’s lay off the personal attacks and liberal use of the c-word. If you notice a previous comment of yours missing, it’s because I deleted anything with the c-word. Zero tolerance on that one until things get a little less prickly in here.
Good for Marc and Brendan PW McDonald for not tolerating that shit.
So Ms Handler, I can respect your discomfort in talking about the sexism, even if it indicates you really don’t believe that it no longer exists. One look at those comments disproves that idea. I understand that if you were to tackle the sexism of some of your critics either through humor or direct statements, you might not have a television show anymore or financial security for your family. But I wish you would acknowledge the absurd irony of a rich, white, traditionally attractive woman who denies sexism exists being called a cunt because she is otherwise extremely confident in who she is and what she wants.