June 3, 2015

The Audacity of Amy Schumer.

amy schumer youtube screenshot

Audacious and adorable.

Sweet and skewering.

Amy Schumer makes bedfellows of words that don’t usually even sit together.

Feminist and funny aren’t exactly synonyms either but Schumer make them besties.

She uses the “F” word in an edgy show-don’t-tell way activists envy and admire.

She’s brutally honest and “goes there”—there being any complacent space left musty with mothballs and sexism and unquestioned by society.

She’s radical but doesn’t come across as angry.

She jokes about abortion, fat shaming and sexual assault. She talks almost non-stop about subjects rarely discussed in stand-up returns, speeches, roasts, tributes and on Inside Amy Schumer.

She pulls her tent right up to the edge and pitches it there and then explores new terrains.

She even made the word “pussy” okay to say sans bleeping on Comedy Central.

Schumer dares us to look at society, each other and ourselves.

It’s not just fat-shaming or objectifying women she talks about (though she does). It’s not just how women apologize for success and diminish their accomplishments (though she does). It’s the way she challenges the crappy response women get when we come forward to say we’ve been sexually assaulted that most astounds me.

In Court of Public Opinion: The Trial of Bill Cosby, Schumer plays a defense attorney who says:

Ladies and gentlemen at this point Bill Cosby probably can’t get in any legal trouble. That’s not what this is about. This is about us not punishing ourselves for loving great comedy. This is a court of public opinion right?

Let’s remind ourselves what’s at stake here. If convicted the next time you put on a rerun of the Cosby show you may wince a little, you may feel a pang.

And none of us deserves that. We don’t deserve that feel.

We deserve to dance like no one’s watching and watch like no one’s raping.

The defense rests.

Potent, powerful and a totally on target ouch!

She does what so few will—acknowledge a reality fairly common for women—not being believed. Then, she one ups herself with commentary about the way that reality is perceived and depicted.

Try not to hit repeat on her bits of stand-up truth-telling brilliance. She makes silenced topics and the denial of women’s experiences the subject of skit after skit.

From a woman’s point of view.

While making us laugh.


Seriously, who else can take on sexual assault and a superstar comic like Bill Cosby in a mock court satire scene on Inside Amy Schumer that is political and entertaining?

She speaks up and out about the way survivors are belittled, bullied or disbelieved when reporting sexual assault in our families, police stations and courts of law and public opinion.

She makes arguments with humor, parody and satire. It’s more effective than rants, op-eds and research papers.

If she had an e-course on how to get communicate for feminists I’d be signing up. She gets people to watch, laugh and listen.

It’s a superpower.

Watching her “defend” Cosby raised my consciousness and made me ache at the same time.

The public responses to the allegations against Bill Cosby are unspectacular (awful, but common). Survivors of sexual assault are often questioned, shamed and blamed with words like:

Was it really that bad?
Why even bring it up now. Aren’t you over it?
Are you sure something else isn’t bothering you?
Are you just trying to get money/attention/revenge?
Give the guy a break, he was just drunk/old/ill/confused/from another generation, blah-pussy-blah)
Don’t blame your issues on abuse or how bad could it have been when you’re doing so well?
And my favorite—If his wife-girlfriend-mother believes him how can I not?

Sexual assault survivors are made to feel that rape and molestation are the equivalent of flirting or a social blunder as opposed to being traumatic violations and crimes.

As Schumer’s piece shows, sometimes it’s not even because what survivor report is implausible or untrue. It’s because—if accepted as true—it’s inconvenient, awkward and hard for those listening. Why believe dozens of women with similar stories told over decades when we really like Bill Cosby? Surely his likability is a defense.

That crap!

Denial is often easier.

Especially when what is being denied impacts mostly women.

Is it really hard to understand why more women don’t come forward? Survivors know the way other survivors are treated and received, publicly and privately, in families and in law enforcement, with friends and in courtrooms. We know other survivors.

Silence and shame and stigma remain real. And understandable.

So I feel a strange mix of validation and relief when Schumer tackles tough topics close to my heart. She manages to take on highly charged, controversial and super complicated issues without using words like trigger or trauma or pain to demonstrate why not being believed and supported is re-traumatizing.

I love her.

I need her.

She helps me heal my own wounds as well.

I now use my first and last name when writing about sexual trauma. I have a website for survivors of sexual abuse and those in trauma recovery. I share the portable and affordable tools outside of the traditional talk therapy/medication model. Most of my writing is about trauma, trauma survivors and mindful post-traumatic stress.

But until I was in my 40’s I was afraid to tackle these subjects in my writing. I feared  being out as a survivor would keep me from dates, jobs or being viewed as happy, whole and normal.

We need truth tellers and breakers of silence.

Each time any one of us speaks up and out about important issues in whatever voice, style or way unique to us—it makes it easier for others.

I get more letters that I can respond to form women from their 20s to their 80s saying they are still carrying secrets, pain and shame about abuses that happened a half to three quarters of a century ago. But at least writers are being written. That matters.

Women’s stories and life experiences matter.

Schumer gives voice to many of us who can’t, won’t, don’t or aren’t yet safe to speak up. She does so deliberately. She said, in a tribute to Joan Rivers:

“Lucille Ball said, ‘I’m not funny what I am is brave.’ Joan was the bravest of them all.

 …growing up I got the distinct feeling that my classmates didn’t want me to be funny.

 You’re a girl, be pretty and pleasant and I got that feeling a lot. It was the thought of Joan that stopped me from keeping quiet. It wasn’t easy. I would notice an injustice or think of something funny to say and I would raise my hand and express myself no matter what.”

Courage is contagious.

I’m soul-fed and inspired by Schumer’s fearlessness.

She refuses to compromises her comedy to make a point—but make a point she often does.

I adore Amy Schumer’s audacious activism.

Brick by laugh-riot-brick she’s tearing down defenses and fighting sexism. Plus, she’s making me pee my menopausal and now unbleepable pussy underpants.




We (Don’t) Need Make-up: Amy Schumer Hits it Again.


Author: Christine “Cissy” White

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Youtube Screenshot

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