On last night's episode of Full Frontal, Samantha Bee took on two decidedly hot topics: the Shitty Media Men list, a document of much debate, and Aziz Ansari. Full Frontal is the first late night television show to take on these controversies, possibly because she's one of two women hosts in late night television. (Robin Thede hosts The Rundown, which airs on Thursday nights on BET.)
The list, a spreadsheet circulated among media women in October, was a community-created catalogue of men in media who had done "shitty" things that amount to sexual misconduct. The creator of the list took it down after only 12 hours. Ever since, it's become a pseudo-prophecy, a nonexistent catalogue of the men who've wronged us. In the weeks since it appeared, a number of men who appeared on the list have been accused of sexual impropriety.
The trouble with the list isn't that it exists — it's that no one's sure what to say about it, or even if they should comment on it at all. Last week, a rumor on Twitter suggested Harper's would publish an article "outing" the creator of the list. Multiple people came forward as the owner on Twitter, which Bee called a "Spartacus" moment. ("No, I'm the creator of the list!" women said in unison.) Then, Moira Donegan, a former editor at The New Republic wrote an essay claiming the title of "list creator" once and for all.
Then, Ansari happened. A website published an anonymous account of a woman who went on a date with the comedian. The date ended horrifically — they engaged in sexual activity, and Ansari allegedly ignored cues from the woman, who left the date feeling as if she'd been violated. What happened wasn't rape, but it was a form of sexual misconduct, and it's given birth to the Ansari Backlash, we'll call it. The New York Times has published two opinion pieces on it, one by Bari Weiss, and another by Lindy West. (West is a proclaimed feminist, while Weiss is a neoliberal provocateur.) Caitlin Flanagan penned a scorching take for The Atlantic titled "The Humiliation of Aziz Ansari."
Searching for some kind of sense among the thinkpiece clutter has been a bit like playing Goldilocks. Most takes are very hot; that's the internet's fault. Others are dismissive and cold. Then, there's Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. Bee and her writers prioritized women with their take. The goal here, Bee argued, has never been to humiliate and denounce men. Actually, it's got a more positive angle. To promote women! The piece about Grace's horrifying date with Ansari wasn't about Ansari, really. It was about how women are rarely heard, even in the most intimate of spaces. (And no, you don't have to speak to be heard. Listening occurs with all your senses, boys!)
"People like me had to wade through a sea of prehensile dicks to build the world we now enjoy," Bee said. "And part of enjoying that world is setting a higher sex than just 'not rape.' And women get to talk about it if men don't live up to those standards!"
Bee continued, "Listen, if you don't want to tune in to your partner's feelings throughout sex, maybe you shouldn't be fucking a person at all."
And, her kicker: "If you say you're a feminist, then fuck like a feminist."
Ah, that's just right.
Watch her full monologue, below.
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