Will Jen Kirkman's Twitter hiatus help curb sexism in comedy?
Comedians aren’t funny all the time. Sometimes they take a break to discuss serious topics like gay rights and racism, often to the chagrin of fans and followers expecting easy laughs.
Comic Jen Kirkman experiences this backlash on Twitter daily—and she is fed up.
Kirkman, known for appearances on Chelsea Handler’s Chelsea Lately and HBO’s Drunk History, announced late Thursday that she was going on a Twitter hiatus until the men in her business “get loud” on the abuse she and other female comedians face regularly.
“My male comedy friends show support by suggesting that I just let it slide, ‘these people are idiots/trolls.’ But I don’t see it as ‘trolls’—these are actual men who are showing me that their opinion is that a woman is acting ‘hysterical’ when she reacts to being treated unfairly,” Kirkman wrote on Tumblr. “Suddenly I am not funny or fun. My male comedy friends sometimes lament that they want to support and that they hate how they see their women friends being treated on line but ‘but don’t know what to say.’”
In the post, Kirkman highlighted some of the Twitter responses she received Thursday: “stop being hot and start being funny,” “stay off Twitter,” and “man up,” among many others. These tweets were enough for Kirkman to stop posting on her 97,000-follower account until male comedians speak out.
“I’m often told that women’s rights are not in any danger and I have the vote and we don’t need feminism anymore for “big issues”—(that’s a whole other issue). But the small issue of feeling part of the global web community is still a new frontier for women and we are starting at square one,” Kirkman added on Tumblr. “I would love the support of my male friends in comedy—OUT LOUD and as part of their daily lives. The way we all do with gay rights and racism.”
To help raise awareness, Kirkman has started the Tumblr Men Against Assholes and Misogyny (or MA'AM) as a place for men in comedy to speak out against the mistreatment women face. So far the blog has collected four entries. One of them is from comedian Chuck Steinhilber, who believes his female peers “don’t need to put up with this kind of bullshit.”
Kirkman promises to bring the funny back to Twitter as soon as possible.
“And to the people who say ‘Don’t go anywhere!’ I will be back when I see male comedians speaking up. And specifically that group. It’s not JUST up to my followers—it’s up to my peers. (and just Retweeting doesn’t count—though it helps),” she said. “And when I feel I am not the only voice out there, I’ll come back to Twitter. And trust me, I want to. I have things to promote.”
Photo via Jen Kirkman/Twitter