Follow Up to “Let’s Talk About Women’s Bodies, Shall We?”

2009 August 21
by Lizzzzzz

I posted this earlier. I wanted to follow up by telling the people involved what I thought. I know it’s hard to believe that my opinion would make a difference, but it is impossible for my opinion to make a difference if I don’t share it. Audre Lorde, woman warrior poet, says, “When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.”

I submitted this through the online “contact us” form for Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me:

Dear Wait, Wait:

I love your show. I listen to every episode by podcast. I am a feminist, and I sometimes comment to people that I think your show is one example of a way to laugh without having to condone sexism. Sometimes, though, I think you cross a line. I’ve thought about writing in when this has happened, but this is the first time I’ve actually written.

I’ll get right to it: Peter Sagal, you pressured Aaron Schock to talk about his body when he clearly did not want to. When you pressed him, Schock was uncomfortable talking about his own body and Barack Obama’s body, so he shifted the subject to women’s bodies, specifically Michelle Obama’s arms. As we all know, women’s bodies are always an appropriate topic of conversation in our society, so I’m not surprised he felt more comfortable shifting the focus.
I bring this up because I was completely shocked by it, but I know that it probably passed most people’s radar without a blip. Men’s bodies and women’s bodies are treated very differently in our society, so it is “normal” to pass judgment or talk about women’s bodies while it is strange to do the same with men’s. Pressuring a man to discuss his body really isn’t a positive way to make things more equal. This incident is a small issue, but I believe the small things we usually let go are the things that allow our culture to continue to be institutionally sexist.

I have also posted my observations about this episode on my blog at http://femveg.org/blog/?p=267 and plan to contact Aaron Schock’s office.

Thank you,
Liz Yockey

I emailed this to info at aaronschock dot com:

Dear Aaron Schock,

I listen to every episode of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me by podcast. I am a feminist, and I sometimes comment to people that I think the show is one example of a way to laugh without having to condone sexism. Sometimes, though, Wait, Wait crosses a line.

Peter Sagal pressured you to talk about your body when you clearly did not want to. When he pressed you, you were uncomfortable talking about your own body and Barack Obama’s body, so you shifted the subject to women’s bodies, specifically Michelle Obama’s arms. As we all know, women’s bodies are always an appropriate topic of conversation in our society, so I’m not surprised you felt more comfortable shifting the focus.
I bring this up because I was completely shocked by it, but I know that it probably passed most people’s radar without a blip. Men’s bodies and women’s bodies are treated very differently in our society, so it is “normal” to pass judgment or talk about women’s bodies while it is strange to do the same with men’s. Pressuring a man to discuss his body really isn’t a positive way to make things more equal, and the way you reacted showed how differently women are thought of by even those who think we are not sexist. (I assume you don’t consider yourself to be sexist.) This incident is a small issue, but I believe the small things we usually let go are the things that allow our culture to continue to be institutionally sexist.

I have also posted my observations about this episode on my blog at http://femveg.org/blog/?p=267 and contacted Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.

Thank you,
Liz Yockey

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