Joking Responsibly: Sexual Harassment

During my recent performance, I did a joke about creeps. I asked the ladies in the audience how many of them have had an experience with a creepy guy, you know the kind of guy that doesn’t know when to leave a woman alone. Nearly every woman in the audience clapped or raised her hand. If you’re looking for a percentage I would conservatively estimate 98% of the female audience members had an experience with a creeper. That’s just sad.

If you read the news today, it looks like practically every man in the media and the entertainment industry has been accused of sexual harassment. Now as comedians, we have a certain responsibility to make timely jokes about what’s in the news. However we also still have a responsibility to our audience, that being to make them laugh. So, fellow comics while I get that you may feel compelled to make jokes about how so many men are being accused of sexual harassment, let’s not forget that sexual harassment is not funny to people who have experienced it.

Think about my audience from a few weeks back. Nearly every one of the women in that audience experienced unwanted attention from a creepy guy. That’s pretty much the definition of sexual harassment. Now think about all of the #MeToo stories you’re reading in your social media news feeds from the female members of your social media circle. I have multiple #MeToo stories of my own. So, be mindful that there’s a pretty good chance that most of your female audience members aren’t going to think your timely joke about sexual harassment is funny. You’re also perpetuating the problem by making victims feel uncomfortable and, yes guys that’s why we don’t come forward right away if we ever come forward at all.

Women will continue to come forward. We all decided during one our super-secret underground meetings that we have all had enough. The women who came out against Harvey Weinstein, Lou C.K., Matt Lauer, and others have emboldened the rest of us to stop being nice about it when we’re harassed; you know much like a known sexual predator being elected president has emboldened all of you to openly harass women. If you’re feeling defensive, I’m probably talking to you. Continuing this behavior may result in direct harm to your testicles. You’ve been warned.

 

Zoos and Conservation

There are some within the animal welfare advocacy community (*cough* PeTA *cough*) that feel that all zoos should be shut down and the animals released to the wild. As an advocate for both animal welfare and conservation I respectfully disagree.

Some would have you believe that zoos are terrible places where the animals are mistreated and live out their days in cages while pining for their native lands. Advances in containment, specifically glass technology have allowed zoos to replace the cages with windows. This allows for better viewing and photo opportunities for the public while still being strong enough to contain the animal and allow the animal to feel secure.

Zoo animals are better cared for than most people. The enclosures (notice I did not say cages) are designed by experts to mimic the natural habitats of the animals that occupy them. Keepers provide them with enrichment activities that promote their natural instincts. They’re provided with the best medical care whenever they need it and their nutritional needs are met so well that their diets are probably better than those of most humans.

Zoo animals are captive bred and this is done responsibly. They have no idea what their native lands even look like and have no concept of how to survive in the wild. If we followed PeTA’s logic and released these animals into the wild, they would die. Zoo animals live much longer and have a better quality of life than a fair number of their wild counterparts. It would actually be crueler to release them than it would to continue keeping them in zoos.  At least at the zoo there’s less chance of them dying of disease, no chance of them being killed by a predator or shot by poachers, and no chance of them having their young ripped from them for sale in the illegal black market pet trade. It’s true that there are bad zoos out there that are barely more than illegally kept wild animals inappropriately contained and improperly treated in someone’s back yard. Those places absolutely should be shut down. However there are some zoos commonly referred to as popcorn parks or popcorn zoos that rescue animals that were being kept illegally and improperly by private citizens.

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Bubba also disagrees with PeTA’s position on zoos.

Zoos play an important role in conservation. Ask any wildlife veterinarian or conservation scientist why they do what they do and they’ll probably say that their parents took them to the zoo when they were children and it inspired them to help care for and protect animals and our planet’s ecosystems. Zoos maintain a collection of animals, some of which are critically endangered as a way to educate the public about these animals and inspire the next generation of conservation scientists, wildlife veterinarians, and activists. Show me a child that has gotten close to a lion in a zoo and I’ll show you a child who will be less likely to illegally kill a wild lion in a trophy hunt. Zoos foster respect for all life and when you foster that type of respect, you foster a generation of people who find the idea of asking an animal to die so that you can have a trophy completely abhorrent. Many zoos have partnered with wildlife conservation organizations and have even helped to re-introduce several species that were formerly extinct back into the wild. The Philadelphia Zoo partners with The Snow Leopard Trust, Giant Otters in Brazil, Polar Bears International, and the International Rhino Foundation.

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Exhibit A

PeTA stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. If you can still agree with PeTA and their demands to shut down all zoos after being presented with this information, then I seriously question your ethics. I would also point out that the “e” on all of PeTA’s branding, the letter that stands for “ethical” is lower case. Kind of says something about how important ethics are to them doesn’t it?

 

 

If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know about PeTA’s “ethics,” then I urge you to research their stance on the Vicktory dogs that were rescued from Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring (and yes, dammit it was his dog fighting no matter what he or his lawyers try to tell you). To this day PeTA insists that all of those dogs should have been euthanized outright instead of being rescued by Best Friends Animal Society. In fact they insist that all dogs seized in dog fighting cases should be put down no questions asked.

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PeTA would’ve euthanized this dog. Instead he’s bringing comfort to sick children and their families.

Still not convinced? Check their stance on Breed Specific Legislation, an ineffectual set of laws that lead to the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of innocent dogs every year. Yep! PeTA supports that crap. They feel that pit bulls are a breed in crisis and BSL will stop them from being bred. They want to stop them from being bred because thousands of them are dying in shelters every year due to lack of homes. BSL has made no impact on the breeding of these animals and they’re dying in shelters because BSL is LEAVING THEM WITH NO HOMES TO GO TO!!!!! How can someone adopt a dog when it is illegal for them to have that designation (Pit bull is a designation, not a breed) of dog where they live? (If you’re interested in reading my full rant regarding BSL click here) I find an organization that claims to represent the best interests of all animals, but advocates for the euthanasia of innocent dogs and discriminatory legislation pretty damn unethical.

Hypocrisy, thy name is PeTA. By advocating for the closure of all zoos, PeTA’s trying to kill the very cause they claim to support. If they were truly for the ethical treatment of animals, they wouldn’t advocate for euthanasia unless quality of life was nil and they’d oppose BSL. Maybe someone should’ve taken them to the zoo when they were kids.

Transphobia: I don’t get it

There seems to be a lot of controversy around transgender people and their use of public bathrooms. There are some (read: bigots) who seem to think that if transgender people are allowed to use the bathroom assigned to the gender they feel comfortable in rather than the one they were assigned at birth, perverts the world over will get the idea that if they throw on a wig and some make up, they’ll be free to hang out in ladies rooms and molest women of all ages. This logic makes no sense to me because the very same people who think this way put a pervert who wears a wig and make up and openly brags about sexually assaulting women in the White House.

Let me go ahead and break this down for you piece by piece and using small words so that your tiny pea-sized brains will understand: TRANSGENDER PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE TOO! That means like all people they go potty. It also means that they should have the same basic rights you and I do.

But what about our daughters? Don’t they have the right to potty in relative safety? What if some pervert pretends to be transgender and tries to molest them?

Fact: More Republican lawmakers have been arrested for sexual misconduct in public restrooms than transgender people. It’s true. Google it. I’ll wait. But more importantly, if you’re so concerned for your daughters’ safety why exactly are you not escorting them into the public restroom?

She’s a teenager. What if she’s out with her friends?

Seriously? Have you ever seen a teenage girl out with her friends go into a bathroom alone? That’s what I thought.

But what if she’s on a date with her boyfriend?

Then the boyfriend is the one you should be worried about because I promise you he’s the one who’s trying the hardest to get at your daughter’s bits below the belt. But if you’re really that concerned about her using a public restroom by herself, teach her how to defend herself. Hint: the answer is almost always kick the groin.

Well I still think there ought to be a law requiring people to use the bathroom assigned to the gender they were born with.

Of course you do, but let me ask you this: How exactly would we go about enforcing such a law? I don’t know about you, but if someone walked up to me in a public restroom and asked me to show my genitals, I’d punch that person in the throat. You complain about how high taxes are now. Imagine how high they’ll be when we have to allocate public funds to enforce a ridiculous law on who uses which bathroom.

Why don’t we talk about the real issue here, that being your obvious transphobia, hmm? I get it. People fear that which they do not understand. You’ve always felt comfortable in your gender and don’t understand how anyone possibly couldn’t feel the same way. Okay think about why people dye their hair. Let’s say you were born with blonde hair, but as you age, you start to feel like your hair color just doesn’t fit you. You try everything. You try styling it differently, different cuts, etc and you still just don’t feel comfortable in your own skin as a blonde and you think you’d rather have brown hair, so you dye it. No big deal right? Sure some people may hate on you, but you’re happy and that’s what matters. At its very core, this gender issue is basically the same. Admittedly comparing changing gender to dying one’s hair is perhaps oversimplifying it and doesn’t entirely do it justice. After all, it’s not very likely that your parents will disown you for dying your hair. However for the purposes of explaining something big and complicated to people whose minds are small and closed, oversimplification can be a useful tool.

But what if my kid turns out to be one of those freaks?

Come on. Really? Transgender people are people just like you and me. They’re not freaks. We talked about this. A chance meeting with a transgender person in a public restroom is not going to turn your non-trans child trans. It doesn’t work that way. Frankly the fact that you think it does makes you a very special kind of stupid. If your child is going to be trans, it’s going to happen and there’s nothing you can do about it at this point because you see, your child has already been born and oh my God I can’t believe I have to say this in 2017.

When you were expecting your child before you knew what his/her gender was going to be, you didn’t care right? When people asked you said you just wanted a healthy, happy baby. So um…what exactly has changed? Why would you feel any differently now? Do you not love your child? Seriously what the hell is wrong with you? If you disown your transgender child, there’s a very special place in hell for you. I’m also going to need you to take that Jesus fish off the back of your car because anyone with your lack of compassion and tolerance has no right to call themselves a Christian.

Fine but they should have to use a separate bathroom from the rest of us.

Oh sure and while we’re at it, maybe we should make them use separate water fountains, make them sit in the back of city busses, and go to “separate but equal” schools. See, that’s how legal precedent works. First it’s a separate bathroom and then down the slippery slope we go until we bring back segregation. But here’s another fun fact about legal precedent: When the Supreme Court rules something unconstitutional, it’s pretty much game over for that law. Newsflash! In case you missed it, Brown v. Board of Education ruled state-sponsored segregation illegal in 1954.

I have a novel idea for you! JUST PEE OR POO AND MIND YOUR OWN DAMN BUSINESS! If the person in the restroom looks like a female from the waist up, assume she’s female. If the person looks like a male from the waist up, assume he’s a male. What goes on in the stall is between you and your deity of choice, so why should it be any different for them? What’s below your waist is none of their business so why is what’s below their waists any of yours? Seriously how old are we? Grow up! Just do your business and mind your own.

Why I’m Refusing to Shut Up

I’m going to post this entry now before the current fascist dictatorship…I mean Presidential administration in the US repeals the First Amendment. From the moment Lord Commander Marmalade entered the presidential race I have wholeheartedly opposed him. Every single thing about him offends me from his racism, xenophobia, bigotry, ableism, and misogyny right down to his God-awful comb-over, orange skin, and tiny hands. I am absolutely baffled at how such a disrespectful, sorry excuse for a human being even made it to the Republican National Convention, let alone got elected to the highest office in the United States. On November 9th I woke up and asked, “How the f*ck could we let this happen?” Then I remembered the sheeple who supported him. Well I hope you’re pleased with yourselves because you got what you wanted. An orange reality TV star is the president and you have a Repugnant…I mean Republican majority in Congress.

Oh and by the way, for all of you moderate Republicans who are watching your party get hijacked by the Tea Party and alt-right, I don’t feel the least bit sorry for you. This is your circus and they are your monkeys. You could’ve stopped them and taken your party back. You could’ve said to hell with the legal quagmire that would result and run a contested convention. You had a chance to stand up, but you chose to go along with the insanity and now you have a misogynist in the White House. Your wives, daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts, and grandmothers must be so proud.

You can say “sour grapes” all you want. You can call me a snowflake and tell me to stop whining and just accept the fact that Hillary lost and he’s our president now and I should respect that and respect him. That’s fine. Freedom of speech is great! However I’m going to respectfully disagree. Sour grapes, my ass.

This isn’t about who won or lost. It’s about standing up for what we believe is right and that is as American as apple pie and baseball. Say what you want about the women who marched on January 21st. No matter what Il Douché tells you, more people mobilized in support of the Women’s March than the Inauguration. Criticize the airport protests all you want, but the public outcry got the attention of a Federal judge. Gosh! I gotta tell you I feel so safe now that those terrifying five year olds are being put in cuffs and dealt with! I can now walk the streets at night safely knowing that I won’t be attacked by a crayon-wielding terrorist! Oh wait, I should explain that last statement in case anyone from Cheeto face’s base is reading assuming that any of them are even literate. That statement about a crayon-wielding terrorist is what’s called sarcasm. I don’t feel any safer and I damn sure don’t walk the streets at night because I’m a woman and we can’t do that. (see previous entry)

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I can’t un-see this

We’re resisting because we refuse to normalize hate. We’re resisting because we see what’s really happening and refuse to have the wool pulled over our eyes and surprise! It’s working. The phone lines of Republican Senators have been blowing up with untold thousands of calls. The repeal of the ACA has caused Republican Representatives to have to duck out of back doors to avoid their angry constituents who want to know why they’re trying to take away their health insurance.

Even scientists are standing against the “alternative facts” and the gag order that was placed on them. Organizations like the National Park Service and NASA now have alternate Twitter accounts where they can speak freely. Even the Pope is resisting. Pope Francis is departing from the traditional Papal role of silent observer of all things political and openly criticizing the administration’s treatment of immigrants, refugees, and Muslims and calling for all Catholics to do the same.

We’ve seen this before and we don’t want to see it again. This administration is taking pages right out of Hitler’s playbook, but Hitler was much more dangerous because unlike this dream team of geniuses (<=sarcasm) he was smart. Hitler promised a better world, a German world. Trump promised to Make America Great Again. Hitler rose to power by criticizing the government. Trump criticized the government and promised to “drain the swamp.” Hitler reached out to frustrated Germans. Trump reached out to frustrated Americans. Hitler criticized the press and told people where to get their news. Trump won’t even entertain questions from CNN reporters and has told people to get their news from Fox or Breitbart since other outlets report “fake news.” Hitler maligned Jews in Germany and used them as scapegoats. Replace Jews with Muslims or immigrants or women or LGBTQ or any other group he’s attacked and you have Trump.

Those of us who learned history don’t wish to be doomed to repeat it. In 1939 we turned away Jewish refugees at our shore. Over 250 of them were then murdered in concentration camps. The Diary of Anne Frank is a popular reading choice in American schools. The strict immigration laws leading up to World War II caused us to deny entry to her family. Anne Frank could be an 88 year old woman living in Boston. Instead we allowed her to be murdered in Bergen Belsen concentration camp in 1945 at the age of 16. Still think this is about an election?

We’re not fighting over politics. We’re fighting for our rights. We’re fighting for our friends, coworkers, neighbors, and families. We’re fighting for the future, ours and yours.  I will not shut up. I will not be complicit. I will not obey. I will resist because I love my country and it’s the right thing to do.

New Years Resolutions

’Tis the season of resolutions and people asking you what your resolution is. Most people make a resolution to lose weight. This causes me to have to wait a damn hour for a freakin’ treadmill at the gym where I’ve been a member for two years. I joined in September 2014 because it was starting to get cold and hell no I’m not running outside in the winter in New Jersey. I may be crazy, but I’m not that crazy.

Over the past couple years I’ve noticed that the die-hard resolution makers no longer show up come February. Funny how that works isn’t it? There could be any number of reasons for this phenomenon but maybe it has something to do with making a single resolution for the year. When you make a resolution, you’re setting a goal. Goal setting is something that takes place every hour of every day. We find ourselves saying I’m going to finish this task by X o’clock today. I’m going to finish task A by the end of the week. Most of the time we set goals without really knowing we’re doing it.

So instead of saying your New Years resolution is to lose weight, why not get specific and take it in steps? Maybe in January I’m going to see my doctor and talk to him/her about how to get to a healthy weight and use that information to set a goal weight to get down to by the end of the year. In February I’ll make a change to my diet and join a gym. In March I’m going to stick to my diet and raise my physical activity from working out 0 times per week to twice a week and well you get the idea.

When you take your goal and break it into individual steps it prevents you from becoming intimidated by it and giving up. Also point of fact, if you’re sick of making the same resolution year after year and constantly starting over, I have a helpful hint for you: STOP GIVING UP! While we’re at it, stop making excuses and coming up with ways of talking yourself out of completing your goals. Stop thinking about what you want to do and start doing it.

You can apply these principles to any goal. Want to get a new job? Beat the pavement and get your resumes out every day or get a certification to increase your skill set and qualifications. Want to learn how to play a musical instrument? Get lessons and practice every day. When people tell us we could do anything we set our minds to, they’re not just blowing smoke up our rear ends. They’re just leaving out the part where they explain that actually doing what we set our minds to is going to take hard work and sacrifice.

It’s not all grit and discipline, though. It’s important to stay focused and stay productive to reach a goal but it’s equally important to stop every now and then, take a look at how far we’ve come, and pat ourselves on the back. Progress is progress and the more you acknowledge it the less likely you are to get discouraged.

Whatever your resolution is this year, more power to you. I hope you stick to it and reach your goals. Now about that treadmill…