I’ve personally been a fan of Whitney Cummings for about a year, after I discovered this hilarious stand-up comic. Though, she’s quite a lot more than that! I first saw “Whitney Cummings: Money Shot” on Netflix, and probably have watched it at least three or four times.. I find it particularly hilarious. In recent media, she’s been the star of her new TV series, “Whitney” and currently is the co-creator the sitcom “Two Broke Girls, ” both of which I frequently enjoy watching.
There is some criticism over whether she is “good” for feminism as a new female comedian. I actually think her sketches, shows, and stand up fall under both a good and not so good category.
For example, this is one of her sketches in “Whitney Cummings: Money Shot”:
I think this is great for a couple reasons. She points out how heterosexist and gendered names we are called growing up as a woman or a man. Before this piece starts she talks about how women are called “princess” which is clearly misleading and men are generally called things like “sport” and “champ” imbedding sports in their life. Even to the point where it’s commonplace for many to refer to sexual advancements in the stages of “hitting bases” and “scoring.”
She then goes onto poke fun at how society thinks it completely normal for people (men in particular) to watch sports and think they are part of the team and even wearing sports jerseys, yet it’s not acceptable for women to watch popular medical dramas in scrubs. Though a hilarious notion, I think it’s problematic. She seems to try and break down common sexist notions of how we are gendered by society as we are raised, yet then makes the assumption that only men are watching sports and women are watching sappy dramas on TV.
Another sketch she has refers to how men and women view and at on porn. Whitney pokes fun at how she believes men like to try uncommon sex acts in the bedroom when they see them in porn videos, like choking, where she then advises women to just “act along” and pretend they are actually being choked (assuming it’s light choking that is…). I didn’t actually have a problem with this joke until she began to, again, group men in a category completely separate from women. She compares how men watch porn to how women watch the Food Network. While I do quite enjoy my food porn.. She seems to be reinforcing the almost all of the gender roles that are attempted to be challenged in this stand up act.
**(for all the foodies out there, check out the Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations episode about Food Porn. I pretty much fell in love with a 55 year old man’s stomach)
I think the real challenge here is the line between when we see an open, honest, raunchy woman in the media and whether that’s really a “feminist” icon or not. I don’t think these things are mutually exclusive.. but in the case of Whitney Cummings, I believe that her attempts to break down gender stereotypes are quite valid, but are complicated by the need to capture and entertain and audience with those same stereotypes she tries to challenge. Whitney Cummings is loud, in your face, and not afraid to say what she feels. Though I think it’s great that she is attempts to “break the mold” in women in the media, I don’t think this type of comedy is the best route to breaking down heterosexism.
But, that being said, I don’t think that we should stop ourselves from having a good laugh too!