I am a huge fan of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. It is the only way I can stomach the news without crying or shouting. However, I am also a fan of gender equity and de-androcentrism (undoing the male identity as source and norm of common experience). So when I read the recent Jezebel.com article about hiring Olivia Munn, I had serious reservations. Would I have to stop watching The Daily Show on principle? I actually considered it, but I waited to hear more about the issue before making a definitive decision.
The article, dated in June (shows you how on the ball I can be), focuses on the hiring of a new female correspondent who also happens to be pretty hot. Olivia Munn, the correspondent in question, made her debut on June 3rd with a piece on the oil spill. In the short clip, her diverse ethnic background is highlighted, so that should be taken as a marketable skill I suppose.
John apparently even acknowledged the article briefly in a tirade about Fox and Friends, but the most noteworthy response was from the female employees of The Daily Show themselves. In an undated letter signed by 30-something employees (with an overly simple URL, which means it might not last forever), both on-air and behind the scenes women voiced their concern that Jezebel, and other outlets responding to the article without seeking their commentary, had it wrong. Each of the pieces are intriguing, but I think they both miss the mark.
Full disclosure: I’m a dude. I do not claim to speak for all dudes (or dudettes for that matter), I’m simply making an observation.
The first thing that irked me was that a website that claims to speak for (or even to) women does not depart from the sex-centric narrative that men established in the first place. Image seems to trump character on this website, though I suspect that should not surprise me. I just don’t think Hollywood or the Big Apple present an image of woman that women can or should take seriously (case in point; “Sex in the City”, “Real Housewives Of…” series, etc.).
Not that I don’t think women have a libido, but I don’t think articles about how to please one’s male partner embodies an authentically feminine ethic. Things like that maintain the position of the male as source and norm – such a feminism seeks to identify itself based off of a pre-existent male narrative (or anatomical features). I also don’t mean to delegitimate the Jezebel article itself, it had numerous credible points that I think merit profound consideration. However, I think that the women of The Daily Show may be guilty of the same latent androcentrism; a cursory glance at their letter shows exactly how much they rely upon their alpha male for support. One question I would have is how exactly does one’s male boss support his female employees through infertility…?