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Ladies! Are we tired of talking about The Daily Show yet? I know I am! You know who’s not tired of talking about it, though: DELETED COMMENTERS. There are dozens of them, apparently! Many of them angry that I haven’t published their first-time, openly hostile comments right away, and willing to leave a series of increasingly unhinged comments to that effect! (This isn’t a customer service gig for me, folks. I am not here to optimize your trolling satisfaction.) (Although I like to imagine the thought process. “Hmmm, she didn’t publish the one where I called her a bad feminist and accused her of damaging all women everywhere with her damnable 500-word blog posts. Maybe if I just called her a bitch? Yes! That’s it! That’s the move that will GET MY COMMENT PUBLISHED.”) Yes, my past few days have been FILLED with deleted commenters. Like this one:

Think there’s sexism on TDS? Don’t like it? Stop watching the fucking show. You’re stupid as hell for making as big a deal about this as you are, you’re dumber for having written this ignorant ass letter, and well…change your tampons already. I’m a feminist who’s watched the show for years, and I don’t see anything racist going on.

Ah, yes, the eternal problem of the person — sorry, “feminist!” — who wanders around the Internet screaming “I DON’T SEE ANY [INSERT X PREJUDICE] GOING ON”: Sometimes, you just forget which problem you’re supposed to be not seeing! I feel for you, “Chelsea,” I really do. But here’s the thing. I’m also deleting comments that run like so:

bitch poses for maxim and tries to act like men and women are equal. please. she was graced with an uber sexy bod and shes crazy if shes trying to act like she hasn’t used her looks to get her where she is. i guess that the part that pisses me off the most and will make me tivo right through her segments.

And now, I will piss you all off by explaining why.

The thing is: I have actually seen Olivia Munn’s former show. It was called Attack of the Show, and my former boyfriend watched it, because he liked video games and comic books very much. Olivia Munn’s job, on this show, was not to be funny. Her job was to be a girl — a real, live, female girl! — who actually quasi-interacted with and tolerated her audience of primarily male, 20-something geeks, and gave them the impression that she would be their girlfriend, if only she weren’t trapped on the other side of the TV screen. Maybe when the new holo-technology hits, right, guys?

Now: Given that she was playing to an audience of dudes whose expectations of women were primarily informed by ever-more-anatomically-impossible video game heroines, the flying thongs of superhero justice to be found in comic books, and cooing, squealing, saucer-eyed anime girls, did it help that she was pretty? AYUP. It also helped that the show continually cast her in misogynist skits that “proved” to the audience that they could control her and she would like it: Skits that played to the audience’s frustrations with women, their feelings of inadequacy and insecurity, and their continual rage that real-life girls couldn’t be controlled by mashing the buttons on their PlayStation consoles. One golden example of this — so effective, apparently, that they repeated it over and over again — was the comedy/technology news chestnut I like to call “We Can Make Olivia Put Her Mouth On It.” It went like this:

ANNOYING FRAT DUDE HOST WITH BAD RYAN SEACREST HAIR: Guess what, presumed-to-be-male audience members? A new piece of technology, relevant to your interests, has come out today! And now, Olivia Munn will lick it.

MALE LIVE AUDIENCE: (Creepily.) Wooo!

OLIVIA MUNN: Oh, no, I’m not going to lick that!

RYAN SEACREST HAIR: Oh, yes, you are, Olivia! Lick it! Lick it because I am a man, and told you to!

MALE LIVE AUDIENCE: (Extremely creepily.) Woooooooooo!

OLIVIA MUNN: (Licks it.)

MALE LIVE AUDIENCE: (At this point, creepy enough to merit several dozen restraining orders.) WWWWWWOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

RYAN SEACREST HAIR: Wow, you sure do like to lick it, Olivia!

OLIVIA MUNN: Ha, ha ha ha ha! You are so funny!


If no new tech had come out for a while, they used a hot dog. Now: You don’t need a lot of comedic talent to do this, if you are Olivia Munn. What you need is a steadfast desire to keep pulling paychecks, and maybe an iPhone to lick. This doesn’t mean Olivia Munn has no comedic talent; it just means that her comedic talent was not what her audience wanted to see, and so we never really got to see it. The fact that it was her job to appease her audience’s geek misogyny, and that she built a brand that gave her misogynist audience what they wanted (read: hot bikini pics) doesn’t mean she’s a bad evil slutty bimbo. It just shows that she was smart enough to capitalize on her fan base, and that hot bikini pics were the surest way to keep that particular audience interested. Ain’t none of this slut-shaming. Girls have to get by, and if you are a girl and work in the entertainment industry, this is one of the ways to do it. It’s depressing, but it’s true, and hating on individual players for seeing the options open to them and taking them isn’t cool.  Or feminist. No matter what Olivia Munn has done with her career, this and this are still fucking gross and anti-girl.

It’s true that Olivia Munn does bring out a certain amount of hateyness and frustration among girls. She brings it out in me! So I know! Up till now, she’s been getting it maybe specifically from girl geeks. And, although this isn’t fun to hear, or to recognize in yourself, this particular form of frustration is based on insecurity. (THERE WAS AN ARTICLE WHICH WAS IN PART ABOUT THIS AND YOU HAVE ALL READ IT AND IT IS BY SOMEONE WHOSE WORK I LIKE AND RESPECT.) An entirely understandable insecurity, based on the fact that (as girls never stop telling us, in Tweets and e-mails and in blog comments) it’s fucking hard to be a lady and like comic books. Or video games, or computers, or anything else. Nerd culture is, famously, sexist as all hell; all of that frustration with women, those unrealistic X-Lady nourished expectations, that need for women to be as controllable and fun as the lines of code you’re working on — it’s not just expressed on Attack of the Show, it’s expressed in the day-to-day lives of women who try to have fun with this stuff and find that dudes (a) are the cultural gatekeepers and (b) have some ISSUES with the ladies that they are oh-so-ready to take out on any lady that crosses their path. If you’re not hot, you’re shit; if you’re not prepared to concede that dudes know more about this stuff than you, you’re shit; if you’re not controllable and acquiescent and ready to laugh at all the dudes’ jokes (even the jokes that are on you), you’re shit. And then we see Olivia Munn, and we see that she is hot and she is allowed to possess a (secondary) authority on this stuff, and she is laughing at all the jokes, even or especially when she’s the butt of the joke, and we’re mad. She’s doing it! She’s playing along! She’s making it harder! If there’s one Olivia Munn in the world, those dudes will expect all girls to be Olivia Munn, and the girls who don’t want to, or can’t, will keep getting shit on! She’s perpetuating our oppression.

Or, you know, not. Because Olivia Munn is not the one running this show. If she weren’t willing to play this role, she wouldn’t have her job; if she didn’t have her job, someone else would. And even if, by some miraculous circumstance, there were no girls in the entire universe willing to do this job, the dudes still wouldn’t let you in. They wouldn’t change their expectations. The key thing about those expectations is that they are unrealistic, because they are based on a dislike of real-life, three-dimensional girls. Olivia Munn embodies geek-misogynist expectations and desires for women, in this one specific job she does, but those expectations and desires are what make girls’ lives hard, not the women who are paid to fulfill them. If there were no girl in the entire universe that men could point to and say, “well, she likes it,” they’d still keep doing it, because, here’s the secret: Misogynists don’t care what girls like. Being angry at a girl because you’re constantly told that you’re not enough, and you’re constantly told that she is enough, being angry that she won’t take your side (because not being on your side is part of what makes her “enough,” part of what she’s paid to do), is really, really tempting. And, honestly, human. But it’s not feminist, and it’s counterproductive as all hell. Taking that one girl down, or taking down all the girls who are like her, isn’t going to change anything. Because girls — girls like you — still won’t be the ones in charge. And they still won’t be valued. Guys who want to treat girls like shit are going to treat girls like shit, and I recommend we keep on getting angry at the motherfucking guys about that, because they’re the ones calling the (bikini) shots.

And then, you know, there are Hot Girl Problems. Turns out they have those! I myself have never been a particularly Hot Girl, so I haven’t had a share in it. But I do have friends — friends who are entertainers, or models — who fit the Hot Girl Mold, at least for the 0.5 seconds after people see them and before they open their mouths, and I’ve seen what the Problems are like. Guys who want to date them because they’d make nice trophies, and then turn nasty and try to “knock them down a peg” when they turn out to be people with, like, opinions and needs and such; guys who just want to knock them down, period, because pretty girls make them feel inadequate and angry; people who assume they’re stupid, who “like” them but refuse to respect them; constant allegations that they got where they are, wherever that is, because of their looks, which honestly does sting, what with the continual people-assuming-they’re-stupid problem. And, in a twist that is perhaps relevant to this conversation, some of those girls are geeks.

My best friend K has worked as a model. She’s tall, she’s blonde, she’s super-duper skinny, people comment on her looks when she leaves the room: She’s a Hot Girl. Also, her favorite things in the world are comic books, Ultimate Fighting Championships, and books with dragons on the cover and/or as subject matter. She is a geek; it is her passion; she carries it with pride. When she told me about it, this is what she told me:

“Guys are always so happy to talk to me about comic books,” she said. “Which is great, because I don’t know that many people  in real life who will talk to me about comic books. It goes really, really great, with these guys, until they figure out that I’m not going to sleep with them. And that’s when they start getting cold and assuming I’m stupid or shallow like everybody else.”

So, yes: Hot Girls are subject to misogyny, just like everybody else. The fact that some Hot Girls can pull paychecks from it isn’t the actual problem; it’s a manifestation of it, which individual Hot Girls are not primarily responsible for. And everybody needs paychecks. I sure as crap do! And, unsurprisingly, when girls get shitty at them, when they have to deal with assumptions that they’re “anorexic” or slutty or “Mean Girls” or just plain dumb, this doesn’t exactly make them feel that they can get support from girls when dealing with all this. And when they see people framing it as “feminist critique” whilst talking about how modeling is fundamentally a useless and awful profession, and GOD who cares about the problems of SKINNY GIRLS like I bet they have it SOOOOO HARRRRRRD right, and UGH these girls are just UPHOLDING THE MAINSTREAM BEAUTY STANDARD and look SO UNHEALTHY (maybe they’re anorexic), the idea that feminism could provide some meaningful support seems increasingly unlikely.

That said, Olivia Munn seems like a real douchebag in her interviews. And hiring Olivia Munn did bring up legitimate questions about the role that The Daily Show plays in the Hot Girl system. (THERE WAS AN ARTICLE WHICH WAS IN PART ABOUT THIS AND YOU HAVE ALL READ IT AND IT IS BY SOMEONE WHOSE WORK I LIKE AND RESPECT.) Olivia Munn worked on a misogynist TV show — not “misogynist” in the way that people are alleging “The Daily Show” might be, the kind of sexism that’s expressed through hiring practices and office culture, but misogynist in terms of what they put on air, the kind of show that’s pretty much openly not interested in women except as hot objects and things to quasi-humiliate on camera. She worked her way up through the industry by building and capitalizing on a misogynist fan base. And, honestly, good for Munn for branching out — and, hopefully, getting out. But now she’s on a show whose on-air content is, famously, “progressive.” Not far left enough to be unmarketable, but still to the left. And the left usually keeps its misogyny in its back pocket (unless you are mean to Jon Stewart, in which case WATCH OUT). I don’t know if Munn is down with misogyny — she seems pretty invested in not criticizing it, probably because it’s made her name and paid her bills for years, although she’s also been open about the ways being objectified can be traumatic and shitty — but the sudden disjoint between seeing someone on a misogynist show where she was required to serve as a pinata and fantasy-gratification-dispenser, and then seeing that same person on a progressive show where she’s required to have good delivery and tell relatively smart jokes, produces a certain amount of cognitive disjoint.

People wondered if Munn was supposed to play the same role for The Daily Show’s audience that she did for Attack of the Show’s audience, because we’d simply never seen her play any other role. I really, sincerely hope that she will be doing something else for TDS — that she’s got a ton of skills that Attack of the Show just never utilized, and that we’ll get to see them now. Jon Stewart and Tina Fey think she’s funny, apparently, so that’s really promising. And to see someone escaping the Hot Girl Ranks and displaying some talents that aren’t primarily about feeding weird XBox Live players’ fantasies of female subjugation is, or should be, heartening. But to see a girl with this history hired to work as, essentially, a stand-up comedian — when she’s never worked as a stand-up comedian — is weird, and raises questions about which qualifications are important to the people doing the hiring. And to see that The Daily Show is responding to criticism of its gender politics with nothing but defensiveness or that Olivia Munn’s first response to questions about her talent was to say that anyone who asked those questions was a girl who should stop eating so much, only added fuel to the fire.

Basically, I wish Olivia Munn were more like Megan Fox. Granted, I wish everyone were more like Megan Fox, because I love her. But still! Fox has been open about the fact that she’s working as a product, selling Hot Girl because that’s what people want from her, and that it is an act. She’s felt free to point out the ridiculousness of what she’s selling, and to criticize her bosses. She’s also felt free to point out that women are sometimes threatened by her, and assume that she sees herself as “hot shit.” Which is almost always met by women who feel threatened by Megan Fox complaining about how Megan Fox must think she is such hot shit, but whatever. There’s a level of self-awareness there, an ability to pinpoint her own place within the system and acknowledge the oft-shitty nature of the system, that Munn — maybe because she’s still nominally working at Attack of the Show — doesn’t seem to share. Asking her if the bikini shots have helped her career, if there are different expectations of her because she’s a woman, only ever produces the response that she’s funny and pretty. Which, sure, maybe she is. But that’s not what the interviewers are asking, and anyway, you’d hope that the “funny” part would be more important, if she’s being hired to do comedy. And thus far in her career, the “pretty” has been way more central. Her indignation that Jezebel described her as “primarily known for putting things in her mouth” is understandable on a human level (no-one likes to be told that they’re not qualified for their job) but doesn’t necessarily take into account the fact that she’s worked for years at a TV show that produced a greatest-hits package of her putting things in her mouth, and that there are over seven million hits on a G4TV-posted YouTube video of her (at first, reluctantly! Like fucking always, because that’s the dynamic her gross-assed viewers find sexy!) deep-throating a hot dog. (One of the recommended videos, also from G4TV, is entitled “Kevin Pops Olivia Munn From Behind!” It involves balloons.)

[EDIT: Actually, I thought you all should just see the video. You might still want to click through, though, to check out the comments, which include lines like, “dude he gets paid to play video gmes and violate girls all day man i wish life was that simple,” “mmm thats some good rape right there” (which was one of the most up-voted comments), and “he can get her to do anything if he keeps asking her enough she breaks down and says ok. she trust kevin.”]

G4TV knows what they’re selling; so does Munn, most likely. She has every reason to. Whether she thinks that’s cool or not? I’m of the mind that, if she doesn’t, she’s probably too smart to say so while she’s still getting paid.

Even if she does think it’s cool, though — even if she is a misogynist, even if she is one of those dreadful people who just thinks girls should have to be pretty and that being thin and cute is a sign of “self-control” or greater value or whatever (and there are plenty of girls who think this way, too), even if her politics are more Attack of the Show than Daily Show(‘s stated on-air politics) — there’s still a solution that would make everyone happy, I think, and it doesn’t require anyone to get rid of Olivia Munn. The Daily Show could just put some more fucking women on the air.


  1. tree wrote:

    this is a lesson that i often forget. maybe i will print it out and hang it on my wall.

    also, have you considered creating a separate blog and posting all the [BONERS] comments there, as the ladies over at shapely prose did? because despite being horrifying, some of them are also funny. and it’s good practice to learn to mock the misogyny where it’s (relatively) nonthreatening.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Permalink
  2. Jen wrote:

    “It doesn’t require anyone to get rid of Olivia Munn. The Daily Show could just put some more fucking women on the air.”

    You have a remarkable knack for hitting the nail on the head.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Permalink
  3. SKM wrote:

    If there were no girl in the entire universe that men could point to and say, “well, she likes it,” they’d still keep doing it, because, here’s the secret: Misogynists don’t care what girls like.

    Yep–exactly this. Thanks for another great post.

    People of any gender who look to me to bust on women in gendered ways get sorely disappointed. This includes my own mother, whose “caribou Barbie” jokes were met with a pithy bit about internalized misogyny.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Permalink
  4. This is why I keep coming back here. Because I read the entire Internet more or less ganging up on, and I start thinking, “Huh – maybe Jezebel was off-base there.” And then I read a Sady post and things make more sense. Seriously: one post turns it all around. SAY WHAT.

    Sady: you have a gift for explaining challenging stuff (by which I mean, “challenging to the ranks of privilege”) (which includes me) in an entertaining way. Keep doing what you do.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Permalink
  5. assassin wrote:

    this is an amazing post that i would also like to print and frame and distribute to the masses.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Permalink
  6. bluebears wrote:

    As someone who had never heard of the woman before this shitstorm I had absolutely no animus towards her personally at all. Like you say, it’s not HER fault that this culture tends to enjoy degrading good looking women and good for her for trying to move onward and upward with her career.

    However every subsequent tweet and interview I read from her makes me dislike her a little bit more. Is this just someone being defensive? I mean I get that. But yet…

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Permalink
  7. Laughingrat wrote:

    I really appreciate it when people dissect geek misogyny. The popular impression of these gamma males is that they’re so harmless and underprivileged that women should just indulge them…that they’re owed something by us because they don’t have quite the same amount of privilege as higher-ranking males. I know better, but the pressure to give in to this nonsense is pretty strong and it’s helpful to see an article like this sometimes.

    “Being angry at a girl…[for lots of good reasons you listed]…it’s not feminist, and it’s counterproductive as all hell.”

    I disagree. We can be angry at those women (Olivia Munn, unless she’s a minor or prepubescent, is not a “girl”) while not attacking them, and that anger is not necessarily anti-feminist. You conflate the anger with the vicious personal attacks (“taking that one girl down”), but the emotion does not have to lead to aggressive activity. Anger can be nuanced and justified, like any other emotion. It’s possible to experience a whole lot of conflicting emotions about this phenomenon at once and still be feminist: anger at gleeful, privileged collaborators (celebrities or otherwise); anger at a system that requires collaboration from women; sympathy for women forced to collaborate with misogyny in order to make a living; desire for a delicious dish of pad Thai.

    Sorry, I haven’t had supper yet. But I still maintain that pad Thai is not anti-feminist.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Permalink
  8. Sady wrote:

    @Laughingrat: The thing is, how do you know she’s “gleeful?” And what “privilege” does her “collaboration” buy her, other than the ability to earn a living and the ability to keep doing this? Slamming women for “collaborating” (and Munn doesn’t have the power to influence the course of world events, or even the whole of entertainment: Say what you like about her, she’s not Sarah Palin) is the surest way to keep women away from feminism. Because they think that, no matter how badly they need it to parse the situations and circumstances in their own lives, they’ll get called “collaborators” and discounted unless they move to a Womyn’s Commune to morally purify themselves in accordance with some ladies on the Internet. Maybe once those women find themselves in feminism, they’ll feel more powerful and want to change things about their lives; maybe they’ll have insights that push back against common wisdom and move feminism forward, based on their unique experiences. Who knows? We won’t unless we listen to them. And make it clear that feminism has their backs.

    In other words: No, the anger isn’t feminist in and of itself. Feminists may feel it, but it behooves them to examine that and watch what they do with it. Because often, what we do with it is anti-girl.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Permalink
  9. Great post. To me, those thing of people saying “she got where she is by being sexy” and then someone in Munn’s position saying “I got where I am by working hard” and this being the debate, misses the point that being sexy in this specific marketable way *is* work. And much as Munn’s comments get under my skin, they’re *also* part of the job- if she said, this is the game and how I play it, like Fox did, she’d get slammed too.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Permalink
  10. Jesse wrote:

    Echoing Coldheart here. Tiger Beatdown is a voice of reason in a crazy world, and reading the posts here make me feel more sane, and bring back my sense of humor, after I get all upset about whatever awful thing happened today in the world. I want to learn to be more like you folks.

    Specifically this speaks to my life-darkening issue of the season, which is the awful misogyny of my base geek subculture. Anybody here know of Leigh Alexander, of, currently laboring under the burden of being THE go-to ‘woman who writes about videogames’? She’s had to close down her forums and comments system recently due to geekdude flaming. I don’t know what can be done, and I’m afraid she’ll burn out eventually under the pressure, and video game writing will lose one of its most important voices. And I think she reads this blog from time to time; if so, Leigh, hang in there! Our subculture needs you, but I wish you didn’t have to do all the heavy lifting.

    Anyway, thanks again, Sady.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Permalink
  11. Erin wrote:

    Sady, you are my favorite person on the internet.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Permalink
  12. of making many books wrote:

    This comment officially inaugurates me into the Legion of Readers Who Are Just Chimin’ In To Reiterate How Much We Love Sady. Like Coldheart, my head was starting to spin, and this post really helped. Grassy ass!

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Permalink
  13. Megan wrote:

    Loved this post, especially the last line.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Permalink
  14. Andy wrote:

    I always get really annoyed when comments just quote the post and go “Great post!” instead of genuine discussion, but when I try to think of something interesting to say there’s just crickets and I’m like, “Sorry I was annoyed, commenters.”

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Permalink
  15. Andrew wrote:

    I guess it was obvious by my comment, but I wasn’t all that into yr last post about this subject, which means that I am pleasantly surprised to find that I agree with everything you’re saying here. So yeah, sorry to be snide before. You’re still awesome in my book, Sady.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Permalink
  16. Nikki wrote:

    @laughingrat @sady I know it’s part of Munn’s job to diss feminists trying to crash G4 etc’s boner party, but it’s so frustrating.

    Whether she’s gleeful about it or not, she’s made a conscious choice to side with people I do not agree with, and go on the attack against me. I know she’s just trying to get by, but she’s in an ideal position to get a point across about how women get treated in geek culture, and watching her get her paycheck shitting on me and my kind instead of speaking out… it’s painful. There’s so much potential there.

    But I know as a girl standup comic myself and as a girl who tried for a long time to be “one of the guys” that it’s fucking hard. Putting yourself into situations where guys feel comfortable around you (geek girl) or where guys are encouraged to be “transgressive” (standup, and writer’s rooms) can be terrifying and offensive, and it takes a lot to risk friendships, jobs, or the good will of the crowd to call out a guy for acting like a fucking wang to get a laugh. God knows there are some damned horrible things I’ve fake-laughed at in order to stay friends with people who didn’t actually care if I lived or died. If Munn can stay in there and thrive, good on her. Really. But she’s given me no reason to like her. Yet.

    I really hope she does an outstanding job on the Daily Show. I hope she grows into the role and shows us she’s funny AND smart AND beautiful. I hope Jon Stewart saw something in her we haven’t seen yet and will draw it out in upcoming shows.

    But if she ends up licking legislation on The Daily Show, I’m out.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 6:48 pm | Permalink
  17. Alicia wrote:

    “I am not here to optimize your trolling satisfaction.”

    On a t-shirt.

    Also wanted: “I am not here to optimize your concern-trolling satisfaction.” Please make that in a 2XL. Thx.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Permalink
  18. Kathleen wrote:

    “Misogynists don’t care what girls like”

    once again, Sady, you say something that is so simple that how could it be brilliant? And yet, it IS brilliant, so exactly the right thing at the right time, the whole post is wonderful but that line — yeah. yeah. yeah!

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Permalink
  19. elaine wrote:

    @ Bluebears

    I think it’s equal parts understandable defensiveness and just plain being an asshole. Which, after looking through the HAHA FAT PEOPLE LOLLLLLZ category on her blog, I am pretty sure she is.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Permalink
  20. PeeMikGee wrote:

    I’d like to echo Andrew’s comment. I am (again) in awe of your brilliance. You just hit nails on the head as if it were a game of whac-a-mole.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 7:34 pm | Permalink
  21. bubbles wrote:

    “Guys are always so happy to talk to me about comic books,” she said. “Which is great, because I don’t know that many people in real life who will talk to me about comic books. It goes really, really great, with these guys, until they figure out that I’m not going to sleep with them. And that’s when they start getting cold and assuming I’m stupid or shallow like everybody else.”

    Yes yes yes, this is my life right here. I actually ranted about this very thing on The Sexist yesterday. I go to a game design school, and I learned very early on what comes with having male geek friends.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Permalink
  22. We all agree that Munn made a career out of abasing herself for male approval.

    When feminists reminded her of the compromises she made to advance in her career, Munn lashed out at feminists, accusing us of being fat bitches who are just jealous of her for being so pretty and sexy. Which she’s obviously smart enough to recognize as a big lie rolled up in a red herring.

    Feminists can have a problem with liberal shows like the Daily Show rewarding women like Munn over other more qualified applicants.

    We’re allowed to have a problem with the fact that fawning over men and hating on women is a good advancement strategy. We shouldn’t forget that one of the most important services that woman who aspires to be “one of the guys” can provide is kicking those fat-bitch-feminists so that liberal sexist dudes don’t have to feel bad about doing it themselves.

    We’ve all gotta do what we’ve to gotta do to get ahead in this world, Munn included. However, she doesn’t have to act all butthurt and make up stories about feminists being the inadequate, insecure, mean, crazy ladies.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 7:44 pm | Permalink
  23. Joey wrote:

    You are brilliant. Now, when can I buy your tshirts?

    Also, I have the same problem with the daily show that I have with Current TV’s Infomania. They have one women correspondent (funny Sarah Haskins and new but still funny Erin Gibson), And the ONLY THING they talk about is “Lady issues.” All the while the show ignores it’s blatantly misogynist co-contributers (who talk about technology and music).

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 7:53 pm | Permalink
  24. JfC wrote:

    I love Megan Fox too! Overall I found this post very even handed, but I can’t give Olivia Munn a pass because of the comments she makes.

    I know we all make compromises to live in the world and no one to very few people can afford to be Perfect Feminist. It still irks me that it can be stretched as far to collecting a paycheck for misogyny and telling all of us fat bitches to blow it out our ass, love the boys’ club. Sarah Palin and Fox News anchors collect paychecks too, and are just trying to make a living too.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 8:25 pm | Permalink
  25. SKM wrote:

    but she’s in an ideal position to get a point across about how women get treated in geek culture,

    Perhaps. Or maybe she’d disappear from TDS never to be heard from again if she “got political” about girl geeks.

    Tasking Munn with the overthrow of several thousand years of patriarchy doesn’t add up. And to be clear, Nikki, I don’t think you are tasking her with it. I just don’t think she has as much power/opportunity as it looks like she has, and there are plenty of folks ready to blame her for not doing more.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 8:44 pm | Permalink
  26. Samantha b. wrote:

    Oh goodness, as someone who was raped in a not entirely dissimilar fashion to that video, that was pretty fucking hard to watch. all the damn same, there’s still something I find endearing about her, against all odds. I don’t appreciate much of what she’s had to say, and I can’t pinpoint what precisely I find endearing, but I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt to, well not so much Stewart after that letter, but Tina Fey, for sure, on her ability to pinpoint that comedic special sauce something.

    And, @ Jesse, thanks for your generously ableist comments! I’m so glad you feel more “sane.” However, for the rest of us that have serious diagnoses and not so much your self-stated luxury , I would point out that we are not *actually* the ones establishing problematic norms.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 8:44 pm | Permalink
  27. Brimstone wrote:

    Geek guy here who’s trying to be less of a misogynistic creep/asshole. Part of the Geek Guy thing – besides the anger and bitterness and entitlement – is the idea that you’re so worthless that what you say can’t hurt people, or at least people (girls) with power. It’s a weird part of the pathology

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 8:48 pm | Permalink
  28. Sybil Vane wrote:

    Beauteous post.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 9:26 pm | Permalink
  29. Shinobi wrote:

    I think a little piece of my soul died from watching that video.

    Also, I really think if every hot girl were like Megan Fox, the world would be a better place.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 9:56 pm | Permalink
  30. I’m not asking Olivia Munn to do more to subvert the patriarchy. I’m asking her to stop slandering her feminist critics. Is that really so much to ask?

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 11:09 pm | Permalink
  31. Emma wrote:

    Me again.
    This entire article is beautiful.
    I want to put it in a gilded frame above my mantle.
    You have more elegantly echoed all my feelings–I tend to get angrier and curse more unless I’m writing a Proper Journalistic Article.
    I believe Tiger Beatdown is now going to be a daily read of mine–this is an honorable thing 😉
    Well done, you win the internet!

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 11:16 pm | Permalink
  32. JfC wrote:

    You know, I’m watching her right now, and she seems pretty good at imitating the news anchor cadence and inflection. Her delivery’s improving also.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 11:17 pm | Permalink
  33. Melissa wrote:

    Lots of people get paid for doing shitty things that that needlessly have a negative impact on society. Unless there’s literally no other kind of work they can get, the fact that they’re earning their living doing it doesn’t give them a free pass for doing shitty things.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 11:23 pm | Permalink
  34. Erin wrote:

    @Lindsay Beyerstein

    But have you read much of what her “feminist critics” have said about her? It goes far beyond feminist critique, and is just hateful bullshit. She has no responsibility to respond to hateful people in a respectful way, regardless of whether the hateful people are, or are claiming to be, feminists.

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 12:37 am | Permalink
  35. kristina bee wrote:

    also when women state that OTHER women who point out the misogyny inherent in making them, i dunno, like objects, is located in the fact that those OTHER women are probably ugly and want to get fucked and are jealous that nobody wants to make THEM lick objects and thats why they are feminists, i am tempted to think of gloria steinem, a playboy bunny turned feminist. and ellen page, certainly not a fat pig, who identifies as a feminist. not that i should have to trot out my IM PRETTY TOO AND I’M A FEMINIST CREDENTIALS. but just saying, GLORIA STEINEM? a women who got the stamp of approval from hef and STILL is maybe one of the most known feminists ever? so, i mean, it exists.

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 12:47 am | Permalink
  36. Jaime wrote:

    So I read the Vanity Fair article and while I find Olivia Munn, in general, irritating (her voice, her mannerisms, etc.) the man interviewing her was a jerk. Every question she was asked boiled down to, ” huh huh huh well, you have to take your clothes off, people expect it.” I don’t care if this girl has walked around nude her entire life, why is the interviewer stating that it’s alright for people to push her into being more naked for their ends? Ugh.

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 1:05 am | Permalink
  37. Erin wrote:

    And I think the accusations that Munn is ‘colluding’ with the patriarchy are really unfair. I am quite positive that there is not a woman in the world who does not ‘collude’ with patriarchy on a weekly basis. Just the other day a very important person in my work place made an obnoxious joke basically making fun of some woman for not being attractive, and certainly by not calling this man out I selfishly ‘colluded’ in patriarchy so as to make my work life more pleasant. Everyone does it. Are women in entertainment not given the same allowances? Do you realize how many fewer women there would be in entertainment if they didn’t ‘collude’ with patriarchy? And women, not men, are the ones that get the most criticism for ‘colluding’ with the patriarchy. And isn’t that kind of damned if you do, damned if you don’t double bind the exact thing we as feminists are supposed to be against? So why are we making it so much harder for women than for men?

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 1:07 am | Permalink
  38. Sady wrote:

    @Erin: Yes. Everyone who’s never worked in a sexist environment, never noticed that the boss who hired you tends to privilege female applicants he finds attractive whilst hiring (and wondered what that meant about the fact that you were hired), never applied for nor been hired in an industry where looks matter (waitresses, retail folks, receptionists?), never been in a social circle where misogyny was cool and blunted your call-outs or complaints about misogyny, never been privileged or benefited from any facet of your appearance, never traded on your sexuality in any professional way, never done goofy self-abnegating potentially sexist shit to get accepted by guys, never wanted to be seen as hot and done stuff that wasn’t “authentic” to be perceived that way: Put your hands up!

    Okay. You can stay. The rest of us are all collaborators. I’ll show us out before I close the blog, because, AS one of the collaborators, I clearly cannot participate in feminism any longer.

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 1:14 am | Permalink
  39. napthia9 wrote:

    “There’s still a solution that would make everyone happy, I think, and it doesn’t require anyone to get rid of Olivia Munn. The Daily Show could just put some more fucking women on the air.”

    Consider me not happy! Who (not what) gets hired matters, ‘cos sexist women aren’t better than sexist men. Which is of course why the disproportionate Munn-hate is sexist: Munn is not any more to blame for Attack of the Show’s sexism than her male cohosts are. (Men who, I must point out, also reinforce negative stereotypes about their gender in exchange for money, suffer from and collude with sexism.) Of course, my solution is to hate more on the other members of Attack of the Show, not criticize Munn less.

    It seems to me that anyone willing to profit off of the reproduction of sexist bull isn’t colluding with sexism- they’re enforcing it. (IMO, “collude” just means “enforces, but feels guilty” or “they enforce sexism, but I don’t want to sound too harsh on them” and so on.) I don’t feel a bit guilty about throwing the first stone even though I’m not Perfect Feminist Jesus because enforcing sexism hurts others, hurts me, and makes me feel guilty about it later. Why wouldn’t I want someone reminding me and encouraging me to do better?

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 3:19 am | Permalink
  40. Sady wrote:

    @napthia: Eh. I somehow doubt the world has been so entirely freed of sexist dudes who actually call the shots, or that opportunities for women are so varied and non-sexist in the entertainment industry, that we can look at every woman who is employed in a sexist form of entertainment and cry shame. I ultimately don’t think talking about Munn is as productive as talking about that sexist entertainment.

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 8:35 am | Permalink
  41. Ennu wrote:

    Sady: “Munn doesn’t have the power to influence the course of world events, or even the whole of entertainment: Say what you like about her, she’s not Sarah Palin”

    Hmmm…not to derail this and make it All About Me, but since I was (I think) the only one who brought up Sarah Palin, and lest anyone think I’m just some random A-hole who doesn’t think before I speak, allow me to clarify:

    I completely agree that her influence is not nearly on the level with Palin’s, though she does have *some* by way of being on an influential TV show. I can see it was a bad example too because Palin is a politician (or used to be and, apparently, still thinks she is one sometimes) and Munn is on a fake political show and no one knows anything about her actual politics except what they can safely assume about them from the fact that she works for and apparently has been a fan of TDS for some time. What I was getting irritated by, as you mentioned, were the things she’s said in interviews that seemed misogynist. I know some of the “criticism” from the Anonymous Mean Commenters Brigade and a few blog posts has been misogynist as well. I don’t dispute that at all and I feel the same way about it. I got angry, though, because some people were suggesting that EVERYONE criticizing her at all was automatically un-feminist, which reminded me of the infighting over Sarah Palin, who, I know faced real misogyny herself more than a few times, but was also guilty of it and deserved criticism for that. And before anyone points out that Palin’s misogyny (opposing abortion even in cases of rape and incest) is WAY WORSE than Munn’s misogyny (calling women who criticize her fat, jealous bitches and/or cunts): Yeah, I know. Still bad, though, and worth criticizing. Like I said it was a bad example, but with some parallels in how it was handled.

    Having said that, this is one of the most well thought out, even-handed pieces I’ve read so far. And believe me, as someone who’s lost way more sleep over this than I know I should have, I greatly appreciate it and every other post like it from the smart ladybloggers out there. You guys make the world suck so much less.

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 3:56 am | Permalink
  42. Ennu wrote:

    Goddamn, that is a long-ass comment. SORRY!

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 3:57 am | Permalink
  43. Elayne Riggs wrote:

    “…she’s required to have good delivery and tell relatively smart jokes…” Well, she had a segment last night, and frankly I found she had plenty of the latter but still lacked the former. My husband, on the other hand, claims her delivery is already better than Jason Jones and Aasif Mandvi, whose narrative style reminds him of “a schoolboy reading a class project.” So far I think Munn’s strengths, at least in this segment, involve breaking the fourth wall and turning towards the camera during interviews to query the audience with her facial expressions, “do you believe this guy?” Not a bad niche if she can keep carving it.

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 6:32 am | Permalink
  44. Angelos wrote:

    @Elayne (42)

    I’m with you on this one. I’ve seen two segments of hers (don’t know how many I’ve missed). Both times I thought she had some good lines, but definitely needed work on the delivery and timing.

    John Oliver and Aasif Manvi are my favorite two correspondents, followed by Bee and then Jones.

    Munn’s got a long way to go before she gets there.

    Background: I didn’t have any idea who she was when I first saw her last week. No clue. Didn’t know what G4 was, haven’t perused a Maxim in… many many years. So, raw real-time reactions from a straight guy [BONERS], the first time I saw her (she was in-studio “on location”):
    1) Hey, she’s cute! Who is she?
    2) OK, what’s she got?
    3) Obviously not a comedian…
    4) Eh, not bad. Has potential, but aren’t there people out there that already have real comic chops? TDS doesn’t seem like the place for on-the-job training.

    She had some very good lines last night, so hey, maybe it works out.

    Also: Sady, great post as usual.

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 10:29 am | Permalink
  45. Joffe wrote:

    As a liberal male geek who likes to think of himself as progressive, I like how your articles on geek-misogyny always make me stop and examine my own attitudes and motivations as well as the attitudes and motivations of ‘geek’ and ‘liberal’ societies. You and everyone else who writes for this blog have a gift when it comes to challenging ideas.

    As for women in comedy, I’m in an improv troupe right now in Europe that’s primarily made up of expats from the US and the UK. What surprised me is how many women we have in our troupe compared to any other comedy troupe I’ve seen or heard of in the States. I think part of the reason we ended up with so many women (at the moment we’re easily 90% women) is because, being the first English language improv or comedy troupe in the country, there was no entrenched “boys club” atmosphere like there is for comedy in the states. A lot of the guys (and some of the girls) clearly had the “women ain’t as funny” attitude instilled in them from before, but none of us in the troupe had previous work in the entertainment industry. So in terms of casting people in the troupe there were no (or at least less) entrenched comedy veterans or prejudices. We were just desperate to get anyone to join, so we invited everyone who wanted to try and could bring the funny. I think the troupe did a lot to get us to understand how arbitrary and artificial the “men do comedy better than women” thing really is. I mean, it’s a lesson you, your commenters, and millions of female entertainers already knew, but at least our troupe and our audience picked it up eventually.

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 11:57 am | Permalink
  46. Feminists should judge Olivia Munn the way we judge Ann Coulter. They’ve both built big anti-feminist brands and made money off attacking other women. Ann Coulter is the queen of the “jealous hairy-legged feminist” put down.

    Yeah, we live in a patriarchy where we all have to compromise and conform to some extent. But we’re not about to let Ann Coulter off the hook because it’s just so much easier to make bank as an anti-feminist than as a feminist. Damn the patriarchy for making it so much easier, but that doesn’t let you off the hook if you choose to rise by tearing down other women.

    Obviously, feminism should have Ann’s back against those vile “tranny” jokes and veiled rape threats by liberal dudes. We should have her back for her pundit uniform of long blond hair, high heels, and short skirts. If that’s the price of admission to the boys’ club, so be it.

    By the same token, feminists should have Olivia Munn’s back against charges that posing for Maxim is a blight on her character, or that being pretty and sexy disqualifies her from being a successful comic.

    However, we have no obligation to put up Munn’s vicious anti-feminist bullshit in the name of feminism. Calling feminists ugly bitches is the oldest silencing technique in the book.

    Of course, abusing feminists in print is part of Munn’s brand. She wants to play the “guys girl”–the one who seems like she’d be into premarital sex and choice and getting a job and earning her own money and all that, but who isn’t one of those scary man-hating boner killing feminists. Her motto, nearly paraphrased from a NYMag interview I’m not a feminist, I’m for the rights of all people (AND THEIR BONERS).

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Permalink
  47. Sady wrote:

    @Lindsay: Well, yeah, I don’t think I said anything in the article that contradicts what you’re saying here. She does seem like a tool in her interviews. But for someone to lash out when there’s an Internet pile-on — a pile-on which includes some valid thoughts, but plenty of “she’s just a female-sexuality flaunting bikini model with no talent who’s too stupid to have the right to draw boundaries during a Playboy shoot and used her boobs to get where she is UGH” — isn’t exactly unexpected, is it? What’s she supposed to do, say “wow, I never thought of me that way before?” She’s being crude and gross and anti-girl, and she’s not drawing a distinction between her thoughtful critics and her straight-up attackers. But, to be honest, when I’m in the middle of a big comment pile-on, I just delete the hostile commenters who might have a point AND the ones who are calling me a bitch, because I don’t want to deal with sorting them out or engaging with them, and I want folks to know that it’s my blog and I decide how people are and are not allowed to speak to me here. I think she’s stressed out, I think she’s lashing out, and I don’t like her statements, but I also don’t see a need to focus on them more than other subjects right at the moment.

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Permalink
  48. Terry wrote:

    I enjoyed this paragraph:

    “Guys are always so happy to talk to me about comic books,” she said. “Which is great, because I don’t know that many people in real life who will talk to me about comic books. It goes really, really great, with these guys, until they figure out that I’m not going to sleep with them. And that’s when they start getting cold and assuming I’m stupid or shallow like everybody else.”

    Then we’re told that this is misogyny. How is it misogyny? It reads to me that she’s getting an advantage based on her looks. Say she wants to talk about comic books. So do other comic book fans. Do they find it hard to find other comic book fans to talk to? No. Do they find it hard to find female comic book fans to talk to? No, not really. Do they find it hard to find really hot female comic book fans to talk to? Absolutely, of course. So when they find one, they get excited. And why do they get excited? Because they want to sleep with someone attractive who shares their interests. When they find out this girl won’t sleep with them, they lose interest. Well, no shit. They already have plenty of people to discuss comic books with, if that’s all they’re going to be doing. So I don’t see how this is misogyny. It sounds like this chick gets an opportunity — to make more comic-book-fan friends — that most people don’t get, simply because of her looks.

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Permalink
  49. Sady wrote:

    @Terry: You’re right! She has so many opportunities to make more comic-book-fan friends — provided that she sleeps with ALL of them! Because if she doesn’t, she’s worthless to them! I can’t see WHY people might think this is misogynist. After all, it’s not like this girl has anything to offer anyone but her vagina, right?

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

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