I'd like to preface this post by first stating that it didn't need to be written, and I understand that my voice does not need to be heard as loudly or as often as some other very smart people regarding these issues. So if you're offended for whatever reason I apologize but I'm just a guy using the internet.
The other day someone asked me why/how I've started to get so into feminism. I've been reading Women Television Producers 1948-2000 for the second time this month and I've recently been asked to work on a lot of female driven projects -- stuff like Broad City by Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, Freddi Scheib's Missed Connections, Doppleganger's new pilot, and even some sketch stuff with the great Sara Schaefer.
This wasn't intentional. I didn't set out to be a guy directing a lot of female-driven shows, but now I'm happy I am that guy. When people ask 'why?' my answer more often than not is because these people are really fucking funny and i'm honored to be working with them. End of story.
But the question is not totally amis as I am swiftly becoming a feminist. But I didn't intend to. So, how exactly did I get started showing up on set and trying to pass the Bechdel test?
Hello. My name is Morgan Evans and I’m on the fast track to becoming a card-carrying feminist. If the feminist club does not provide cards, I’d also accept a badge or commemorative plate.
Being an upper-middle class white male from Mesa, Arizona, it probably goes without saying that I had a lot of misconceptions about feminism, and in fact, without invalidating myself as one of these pro-women people, must admit that this is a quite recent development in my life (but I’m only twenty so you should give me some leeway as my frontal lobe has only recently just solidified itself like this disgusting jello thing my friend found).
In junior high, while hormones were raging, I had my first of many encounters with the opposite sex, most of which really shaped the way I viewed womankind upon my arrival in college. I was cheated on, lied to, called a “fag” numerous times, was met with laughter or annoyance upon my many, many confessions of immense love, devotion, DEVOlution, etc. Basically, I went to public school and it’s probably like this for a lot of people. Suffice to say, because I struck out with women so consistently and so often, and because of the way this certain focus group of females treated me, I began to develop a sort of general mistrust/anger towards the whole gender. It’s like cooties came back full force except now instead of giving yourself a “shot” with a marker you’d go cry in your room for a week straight. Who could blame me? Women fucking sucked! They were mean! Sure, guys were mean too and they called me a “fag” just as often, but I didn’t want to kiss them! I wanted to kiss the girls! And the girls were pretending to like me and then being mean when I’d say I liked them too! What was I supposed to do? Well, if you were 14-year-old me, the answer was obviously “hate all women forever” and that’s sort of what started to happen. Sure, I’m being slightly hyperbolic, but the point still stands, I carried this all with me until now. Instead of someone saying “Morgan, don’t be a fucking idiot. Sure, your current slew of girlfriends and love interests haven’t been too kind but that in no way shape or form represents the population in general,” I would meet my asshole friends at the lunch tables and they would talk about “fucking” or how much Becky sucked.
Then, in high school, I underwent a change. I pretty much dropped my faculties in terms of like, ever wanting to have sex, and I created my High School’s AV Club. I still was in love with girls constantly, and pretty much always wanted to get married, so I was still angry at certain women but my general distrust for the gender seemed to have died down. I got really into Slavoj Žižek, Lacan, Judith Butler, etc. I read Gender Trouble, blew through Gloria Steinhem’s Wikipedia page, and my friend Tim and I even fought over who would get this cool Hillary Clinton pin we found when she was running for the primaries. I thought I knew what was up. I started to realize girls weren’t just there for me to kiss. I felt I understood the struggle of the female working class in 1968! This was naïve, of course, but still, I was sixteen years old and on the right track.
But then came college and I found myself slipping back into my junior high state of mind. After moving to New York and enrolling in art school, I became very disenchanted. The feminism I seemed to have known, this sort of classic 1968 mentality seemed to have shifted to something just terrible. Namely; girls calling themselves feminist, brunching, living off their parent’s money and then not doing anything but talking about boys and how much they love cats. I thought everything I knew was wrong, I thought I was an idiot, because here I was new to a big city and everyone around me seemed to think feminism was essentially a bunch of art school kids liking Lady Gaga because she represented a strong woman without pants on. This wasn’t entirely incorrect, I did know people like this, and I’m sure in a way they were feminists, we just had very, very, different definitions. I was basically taking a very small group and blowing it out of proportion and assuming “well, this is America now” which is the EXACT same thing I had been doing my whole life.
But then I joined the Upright Citizen’s Brigade and started taking classes, and started meeting funny badass ladies. Sure, there are even sects of this hilarious community whose sole contribution to the struggle of women is to just do constant jokes about being a woman and trying to get boys but there’s also this incredibly rich and vibrant section of girls being funny for no other reason than because being funny is great and fun. I have my own reasons for doing comedy, mostly feelings of inadequacy and loneliness due, in part, to these prior junior high experiences, but now I’ve started coming to terms with that (through therapy, stand up, etc.) and can now differentiate between the girls who hurt me and girls in general and that’s a thing I’m proud of. That isn’t to say however, that my prior bigotry and distrust of women doesn’t creep in and effect my decisions/relationships/what-have-you sometimes, it’s just to say that I’m finally aware that this is a thing that happens inside even the most liberal, Murphy Brown/Diane English-loving, skinny white boys currently living in a blue state. Only upon realizing how deeply this shit is engrained in people can we take the proper steps to extract it and prevent it from occurring in future generations of young men and women.
It's this sort of ripple-effect bigotry that is probably where cooties come from, but I could be wrong, I’m not a scientist. I just like comedy.