Twitter is often an online version of a preschool playground, but every now and then it sheds light on something. Such is the case with comedian and self-proclaimed feminist Chelsea Handler, whose latest tweets demonstrate she’s more like a feminist cliché than a true believer.
1. True Feminists Don’t Bait and Shame
For her show “Chelsea,” which streams on Netflix every Friday, Handler featured a “comedic routine” wherein Fortune Feimster, an actress and comedian, takes great pains to mock and shame White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders for her weight, accent, makeup, and demeanor.
While applying makeup, Feimster makes random, nasty comparisons to politics. She says her foundation is like America: “It’s Republican, it’s strong, and it’s white.” Feimster says, “My face is a big, fat biscuit!” and before applying lotion she comments, “Right now my skin is dry, just like Puerto Rico right before that one rainy day they had.”
The video was posted on YouTube and Handler retweeted it. Subsequently, there were approximately one-third as many comments as retweets—never a good ratio for a tweet.
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) December 7, 2017
Many on Twitter didn’t find it nearly as funny as she did.
Rude & shameful @chelseahandler one more example of those people who claim to champion women but have no problem harassing those women they don’t agree with. @SarahHuckabee great job ignoring the haters. @MorningsMaria @FoxBusiness @dagenmcdowell
— Maria Bartiromo (@MariaBartiromo) December 10, 2017
— Elliott Hamilton (@ElliottRHams) December 10, 2017
Handler’s obvious endorsement of such a rude and partisan video by a woman and about a woman isn’t a courageous display of feminism but an insecure show of bullying. Since when is feminism about bashing women, particularly to this extent?
It’s one thing to engage in a heated debate about policy or ideology. It’s another to sink to the level of shaming, ridiculing, or mocking a woman’s appearance. That’s not feminism, that’s just immature and absurd.
2. True Feminists Aren’t Blindly Partisan
In addition to being a comedian, Handler is obviously interested in politics. She vehemently opposes the tax bill Congress recently passed, promoting a “tax scam revolt.” She also regularly tweets to and about President Trump, seething disdain. Of course, she’s duly entitled to all these opinions about politics, but unfortunately, she misreads her involvement in politics as unabashedly feminist.
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) December 9, 2017
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) December 1, 2017
It’s one thing to support women for Congress if they’re competent, qualified, and able. Perhaps the candidates she supports are very much up for the job, but whether that’s true it’s hard to tell. To hear Handler tell it, she doesn’t seem to care much about qualifications but sex. As long as women are taking elected political positions, kicking out men so they can “remove two balls,” that’s enough for her.
It’s fine to want more women in Congress, but not just because of their sex. Qualifications can and should matter. Not only does a qualified person do a better job, but that’s the kind of rights for which first-wave feminists fought. They didn’t want special treatment for being women, just equal access and equal opportunity—which we have.
3. True Feminists Aren’t Racist
This Twitter user sent a clip of one of Handler’s comedy sketches wherein she pokes fun at Asians and black people, the latter for using apostrophes in their names.
“Are there black people, black people here? Any of you?”
(Looks into audience)
“There you are… Thank god it’s still light out so I can see you.”
(Handler then proceeds to go on an extremely racist tirade against black people)
— Richard Armande Mills (RAM) (@RAMRANTS) December 10, 2017
Handler often makes it a point to rib minority groups. She once told Joy Behar it’s so “one group can’t get madder than the other,” and all of that within the realm of pure comedy might be acceptable. However, you can be sure if a conservative or libertarian were to make the similar jokes, Handler may not find it as funny.
To that end, recently Handler lectured former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee on her definition of feminism.
A feminist @GovMikeHuckabee is someone who supports other women. A feminist is someone who believes the accounts of 15 different women who have similar stories about our President. A feminist doesn’t discount other women. Your daughter is not a feminist. You raised a liar.
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) December 7, 2017
For a self-proclaimed feminist, she’s missing the mark. She says a feminist supports women, while she mocks Huckabee Sanders, a woman working in a high-profile position in the White House. She says feminists don’t discount other women, but she can’t stand conservative women.
True feminists of yore looked beyond race, religion, and political ideology to work for women to have a voice and to be equal under the law. They didn’t upend politics to secure a woman’s right to vote so a comedian with a chip on her shoulder could publicly tear down some women—whether black, Asian, or conservative—and build other (liberal) women up. Sure, that’s her right, but don’t call it feminism, call it what it is: Partisan, nasty, and not funny.