The pearl-clutching and hand-wringing about Michelle Wolf’s comedy is a sure sign that she did a great job during the Correspondents’ Dinner.
And I think that the main reason Wolf made the DC press so upset is that she talked about abortion like an adult.
Dumb criticisms of smart comedy
There are a few critiques of Wolf that have popped up over the course of this nonsense:
- Wolf was hypocritical, because she is a self-declared feminist but she made fun of Sarah Sanders’ appearance. (Watch the tape—she didn’t.)
- Wolf didn’t have a “unifying message.” (Do you know what stand ups do for their jobs?)
- Wolf was too mean. She broke the unwritten rules of “civility,” and didn’t take this Very Serious And Important Event seriously by talking about crass and vulgar subjects. (Wasn’t she supposed to roast people?) And abortion is always vulgar and impolite to talk about. (Keep reading.)
It’s not my place, as a man, to address the charge of betraying feminism, but it does seem disingenuous coming from the conservative pundit class.
But I can say, as a journalist, that it’s dumb for the political press to try and torch Wolf’s reputation because they think what she said was icky. That’s what happened: I think that the political press was grossed out by Wolf’s honest riff on abortion, and they did their best to make a scandal over it.
DC is grossed out by abortion, and that kills women
There is a really stupid taboo against talking about abortions, to the point that people who support the right of women to obtain abortions don’t say that they’re in favor of the right for women to get abortions, or pro-abortion, or pro-women controlling their own bodies, or whatever. They have to play this dumb rhetorical game to get good coverage.
The political press creates this stupid, euphemistic pro-choice/pro-life designation, because they are afraid of the conservative backlash that would come with honest reporting on and discussion of abortion. (They are afraid of being honest about anything that will make conservatives mad.)
Anti-abortion radicals know that, as long as they can make the press believe the myth that abortion is icky, something that Normal People don’t do or want to talk about, they can continue to destroy abortion and other crucial parts of womens’ health and autonomy.
Michelle Wolf talked about abortion like a medical procedure, like passing kidney stones or a getting a gallbladder removed. It’s not awesome, but people do it, and most of the time it’s not a big deal, unless there’s a life-threatening danger to the pregnant woman. And she made jokes about all of that, because it’s okay to make jokes about it, because abortion is not as atrocious and scary as the press pretends it is.
The political media was scandalized, because they did not (and do not, and might not ever) realize that Real People talk about abortion the way I just did, and the way that Michelle Wolf did on Saturday. They don’t realize, or maybe don’t care, that the abortion shell game kills women.
Michelle Wolf talked like an adult to a group of adolescents at their Nerd Prom. Like all teenagers, they were embarrassed to get set straight by a grown up, and they threw a tantrum. They gossiped that Michelle was icky and gross and immature and not serious.
Flint still doesn’t have clean water.
Also published on Medium.