“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” has, of late, been rocking my world. Admittedly, I can be over-enthusiastic – especially in regards to political comedy. But, I’m sure I am not alone in fist-pumping over the hilarious and pointed coverage on anti-choice legislation.
“The Daily Show” has had exceptional coverage of women’s issues with a particular focus recently on anti-choice legislation. They have also utilized women contributors in these discussions, and poked fun of themselves. At the same time, however, they haven’t been perfect in their inclusion of women contributors – a problem that is not new for the program and they could go farther in making sure women participate in the conversation. An example of both how they fulfill a role in covering women’s issues but also of their lack of women contributors is in their coverage of Oklahoma’s “personhood” amendment.
In their coverage of Oklahoma’s “personhood” amendment, Al Madrigal got State Rep. Shorty to obliviously reveal his hypocrisy.
In a skit called “Bro-Choice” Madrigal spoke to Oklahoma State Sen. Constance Johnson about her satirical piece of legislation that would have made it illegal for a man to deposit his sperm anywhere but a woman’s vagina.
Madrigal then spoke to Rep. Shorty, who supports the “personhood” bill, for his take on Johnson’s legislation. While Shorty supports a bill that would effectively outlaw contraception for women, he said that Johnson’s legislation would be government intrusion in men’s lives.
“Basically the government is telling a man what he can and cannot do with his body,” Rep. Shorty said.
Great! And what could make this even better is if there were more skits involving women – maybe, dare I say it, the majority of these skits should be led by women contributors, since these are women’s issues.
“The Daily Show” did highlight the absence of women’s voices in a skit with Jason Jones. It was great in revealing the absurdity behind leaving women out of conversations about women’s health; and in showing how women are treated as a special interest group. Jones ignored a group of women leaders as he spoke to a male political strategist – of course satirizing the current media vacuum of women’s perspectives.
The skit was funny – and even a bit self-effacing. But, Executive Director of Girls for Gender Equity Joanne Smith made a serious point to Jones.
“We know what’s going on,” Smith said, “We don’t have the privilege, the space, the opportunity, to make light of this, for this to be a joke. And so we need to be heard here.”
Humor can be a way of unpacking important issues in a comfortable way. But, Smith’s point appears to be more about women leading the discussion than putting a stopper in comedy.
Kristen Schaal made some great (and very funny) observations way back in mid-March after Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a “slut” for defending women’s right to contraception coverage. She addressed the way women are dismissed through demeaning language, the absurdity of the ultra-conservative stance on women and went through loads of legislation that could affect women’s health. She did this in a brief skit and it was funny. This was a great example of “The Daily Show” using a woman contributor – representing women and keeping up with the informative comedy. It was great, but they need to do more of it.
Yes, “The Daily Show” covers important issues, and they maintain focus on women’s issues. But, their methodology needs to match their message. Instead of just poking fun at the lack of women’s voices in the discussion they should bring more women contributors in.