Before her hit TV show. Before her infamous fall in front of Kim and Kanye. Before her best friendship with J-Law [which is, frankly, the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen]. Before ‘Trainwreck’, before all of this; Amy Schumer was best known for her stand-up. It was raw and real and it was afraid of nothing.
And it made me uncomfortable.
A few years ago, I was a solid four hours deep into a YouTube binge when I came across one of Amy’s stand-up specials. She was going on and on about a hookup gone bad. She was dropping f-bombs right and left and gettin’ real honest about the downstairs—if you know what I mean.
At this point in my life, I had just started getting into stand up. I was eating up all of the comedy specials I could get my hands on. Unsurprisingly, the only stand-up specials I had seen were men’s. Louis C.K. and Chris Rock—they were my people. They were my voices of stand up. And of course, they were talking about sex and sex and more sex. But they were dudes, so it wasn’t off-putting to me. It was normal. That’s what guys talk about, right?
When I saw Amy’s stand up, I was caught off guard. For one, I had never seen a woman do stand up. More surprising than that; I had never seen a woman talk so openly about sex—she was talking just like Louis and Chris. It was new, it was definitely intriguing, and I was totally unsure how I felt about it.
I lingered on the video for a few more minutes. Amy went into another story about a one-night stand that ended in a UTI. I felt myself cringe and quickly clicked on a video of Louis C.K. talking about his sweaty balls.
Because that made me feel more comfortable. Louis’ sweaty balls made me feel more comfortable than Amy’s dating life.
It was a good year until I was able to recognize how irrational this feeling was. For months, I continued to ignore Amy and Chelsea Handler and Whitney Cummings; worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle their open and honest vulnerability.
And then one day, I started hearing someone talk about a new show that is “so funny and so crude, but like in the best way.” That person was talking about “Inside Amy Schumer.” Because I’m not one to dare be excluded from the pop culture circuit, I was forced to face my fear. My fear of women talking about sex.
And you know what I realized? It’s society’s fault that I was so uncomfortable. [Ok, you and me both are vomiting at how pretentious I sound. Let me explain.]
From the moment we exit our mom’s wombs, us gals are raised to be ladies. What is a lady, you ask? A lady is someone who is respectful and classy. She’s someone who should keep her mouth clean and her actions cleaner. She’s someone who shouldn’t be celebrating or enjoying or exploring the sexy side of life. And if she dare do that stuff, no one is to know about it.
I was raised in a very open-minded and feminist household, and these ideas were still present. And for so long, they were engrained in me. I didn’t know any better. I didn’t choose to feel this way; I was trained to feel this way.
So when I first heard a girl chatting about the dirty—especially when that girl was on a stage speaking to thousands—my automatic reaction was to yell “Shh! What are you doing? You’re not supposed to talk about that stuff! That stuff is private!”
But is it really private? I mean, don’t we all have sex to thank for being on this planet? A good chunk of the sex that is happening on earth involves, at least, one girl. So why are guys the only ones who get to talk about it? If literally every dude on Comedy Central can talk about their saggy balls, shouldn’t Chelsea Handler be allowed to talk about her saggy boobs?
Hearing a woman talk about sex feels weird because women have never been given the opportunity to talk about sex. Until now.
Look at Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer on Broad City or Nikki Glaser on Not Safe with Nikki Glaser or Samantha Bee on Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal or Lena Dunham in Girls. Look at Amy Freakin’ Schumer.
These gals are doin’ it and they’re talking about doin’ it. And they’re not gross or inappropriate or “one of the guys.” They’re women who are talented and honest and hella funny. And they’re not going anywhere, anytime soon.
Image via Celina Timmerman