The #MeToo backlash has arrived—and Samantha Bee has a lot to say about it.
On Wednesday night, the Full Frontal host began her show by saying, “Now that we’re finally listening to women, some people are asking an important question: Should we stop listening to women?” She was referring to everyone from Catherine Deneuve to Liam Neeson, who have been wondering aloud whether the campaign to end sexual misconduct has led to a “witch hunt” atmosphere.
From there, Bee moved on to the “Shitty Media Men” list, or as she called it “the Scaramucci of lists,” because of how fast it had to be taken down due to threats against the women outing their colleagues as predators.
“The list also let women know they weren’t alone. You know, the whole ‘me too’ component,” she said.
The backlash began when men started to fear that rapists and bad dates were being painted with the same brush. “Literally nobody is saying they’re the same,” she said. “The list wasn’t called ‘Rapists and other people whose 100 percent-verified crimes I considered to be equal to rape.’”
“What many fail to understand is that it doesn’t have to be rape to ruin your life and it doesn’t have to ruin your life to be worth speaking out about,” she continued to applause. “Any kind of sexual harassment or coercion is unacceptable. So what the fuck are women supposed to do to protect ourselves? If we go public with a story, we’re petty crybabies hell-bent on destroying men’s careers. If we write a secret list to protect each other, we’re gossipy shrews telling lies in the shadows. What men literally can’t understand is, this isn’t about them!”
Which brings us to Aziz Ansari.
“Unfortunately, not all the backlash is from willfully blind men. Some is from women who have seen way too much, especially in the wake of the article about Aziz Ansari and the horrible night an anonymous woman said she had with him,” Bee said. “The conversation about this article has been tentative and difficult, largely because a lot of women disagree about it and women actually like to be careful with each other’s feelings, except, perhaps, Ashleigh Banfield.”
The HLN host has been the most outspoken critic of the woman who accused Ansari of “sexual assault,” calling her efforts to destroy his career “appalling” and arguing that she should have just left the comedian’s apartment as soon as she felt uncomfortable.
“It’s harder than you think to leave when you’re uncomfortable or scared,” Bee replied. “For example, you’re scaring the shit out of me right now, Ashleigh Banfield, and I can’t leave. And it’s not just Ashleigh. A lot of people are worried about Aziz’s career, which no one is trying to end because, again, we know the difference between a rapist, a workplace harasser, and an Aziz Ansari. That doesn’t mean we have to be happy about any of them. People like me had to wade through a sea of prehensile dicks to build the world we now enjoy.”
“And part of enjoying that world is setting a higher standard for sex than just not rape,” she continued. “And women get to talk about it if men don’t live up to those standards, especially if that man wrote a book about how to sex good,” Bee said, referring to Ansari’s guide to Modern Romance. “And if that seems harsh, I’m sorry. In fact, you know what? I’m sorry for a lot of things.”
“I’m sorry if you thought the contents of that list or any of the other ways we protect ourselves from men were your goddamn business,” Bee added. “I’m sorry you thought you got to choose what experiences we can share or how we react to the shitty ways we have been treated. And to men, specifically, I’m sorry our request to be respected makes office culture a little less fun and flirty. And I’m sorry we tattled about that stuff you did on us even when it was totally not rape. But listen, if you don’t want to tune in to your partner’s feelings throughout sex, maybe you shouldn’t be fucking a person at all. May I suggest a coin purse or a ziplock bag full of grape jelly?”
“Men, if you say you’re a feminist, then fuck like a feminist,” she concluded. “And if you don’t want to do that, take off your fucking pin, because we are not your accessories.”