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Just enough feminism? Or not feminist enough?

by Diana DePasquale

Popular discussions about Amy Schumer’s Comedy Central series, Inside Amy Schumer (2013) sometimes focus on how feminist it is. And although the show does feature sketches from a female perspective and critiques misogyny and sexism, I’m not sure how feminist it is. But as someone who is also a funny person, it is quite often some of the funniest stuff on contemporary TV. Take for example the accompanying clip from Schumer’s second season. The butt of the joke is military bureaucracy and the obstacles in reporting sexual assault in the armed forces. Schumer’s sketch includes the ways in which female soldiers are pressured not to report, as well as the ways in which assaulted soldiers endure character assassination, and the failure of the military’s judicial review processes. To me, this dichotomy of the “rape jokes are protected speech/women just don’t have a sense of humor” debate that I see taking place in the media is frustrating. I am particularly interested in engaging with others about how feminist is it in simply writing a sketch that enumerates the experiences so many women already know to be true; does the humor lie in the ways women and other marginalized groups of people recognize how ridiculous this treatment is, while also being sadly familiar for women who have experienced sexual assault? Additionally, the sketch’s ending leaves so much to be desired. The sketch ends as it begins, a couple sitting on a couch playing video games. In this way Inside Amy Schumer creates content that ensures, the equilibrium of the situation is restored in the same ways a network sitcom does, reducing discomfort or disruption of the status quo to the audience. If the sketches on Inside Amy Schumer did little to return equilibrium to the situation, and went instead in a disruptive direction, would the sketch be more, or less, funny?

Inside Amy Schumer: Military Video Game and Victim Blaming

The butt of the joke in this clip is military bureaucracy and the obstacles in reporting sexual assault in the armed forces. Schumer’s sketch includes the ways in which female soldiers are pressured not to report and blamed for their assault.

from Inside Amy Schumer, Season 2, Episode 2 (2014)
Creator: Amy Schumer
Distributor: Comedy Central
Posted by Diana DePasquale
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