On August 17, Amy Schumer came under fire when a longtime writer on her show, Kurt Metzger, posted a series of inflammatory tweets mocking rape victims who didn't report the crime to the police. Metzger was fired up about the topic because an Upright Citizens Brigade comedian, Aaron Glaser, was banned from performing at the club due to rape allegations from multiple women — who, you guessed it, had not gone to the police.
Multiple women, including the author of this piece, tweeted at Schumer about Metzger's behavior, and were swiftly blocked by Schumer for our efforts. On Friday (September 2), she addressed the controversy in an interview with Lena Dunham for Lenny Letter, saying
"I was like, can we focus on the rapists? What about the guy actually raping? How about that guy? [...] Everyone’s like, 'No, we want to focus on the guy who said the mean thing.' It’s like, no, let’s focus on protecting women from these situations and getting these rapists to stop the raping."
Schumer also asked, "Why are these women treating him like he raped someone? He’s not Bill Cosby; Kurt has never raped."
"What he was saying was horrific, and he was being a troll," she continued. "He can be an Internet troll. The fact that I had to answer for it … I was like, 'Ugh, why this week?' [Jokingly:] I was like, if there’s scandals, can’t they be about me?
"I do understand that [Kurt’s actions] would come back to me. I can see myself thinking that if I heard somebody on someone’s staff was doing that. I’d be like, 'I wonder how they are going to handle that.' I get it. I get it, and I wasn’t even resentful of the connection. I was resentful of the lack of trust. Like, 'Have I earned any good will with you guys? Do you believe that I feel that rape victims should be shamed on the internet?' Have I built up any sort of good will?'”
Since this last bunch of questions was addressed to a group of women of which I am part, I'm going to attempt to answer as best I can: Amy, I loved your "Football Town Nights" sketch condemning rape culture as much as everybody else. But being a feminist on the internet can be a scary thing, and you know that — so dragging the women who have stanned you for years because we questioned your support of a sexist internet troll by saying "he's not Bill Cosby" is straight up shady.
I'm not even mad that Amy blocked me and women of my ilk on Twitter, though it should be noted that Schumer did the same thing to other women (including Roxane Gay) when said women questioned Schumer's decision to go after Glamour mag for including her in their plus-size issue. (Their complaint: You balking at the term "plus-size" when you've called yourself fat in your jokes for years makes it seems like you think plus-size is wrong. Her response: "Nah-nah-nah-nah, I can't hear you.")
Schumer is a grown adult and can choose to read or not read whichever tweets she wants to on the internet. Yes, as someone who has written articles on the woman, paid to see "Trainwreck" on its opening night, and enjoyed meeting her and her very lovely sister in person, I was disappointed to no longer get to read the hilarious things she has to say, but I understand the impetus to block unpleasant things. I also understand that Schumer never owed me or anybody else a reply; 90 percent of the things tweeted at celebrities will never get one anyway.
However, when your narrative in Lenny and on the Charlie Rose show is "focus on the rapists" like me reporting on the Metzger story for Revelist dot com meant I was personally allowing Brock Turner to go free, I get pissed. There's a world of difference between a Cosby and a Metzger, sure, but caring about one doesn't negate caring about the other; condemning public figures who harass women and perpetuate rape myths doesn't take away work in rape prevention.
I am perfectly being capable of being angry about misogynist internet trolls, rape, racism, homophobia, the ignorant response to Colin Kaepernick's Pledge of Allegiance protest, Donald Trump's presidential campaign, dead gorillas, terrorism in first, second, AND third world countries, and Britney Spears performing at the VMAs right after Beyoncé all at the same time. "Why focus on X when you should be caring about Y" is a weak response to criticism, and you know it.
Also, for someone who has attacked rape culture up and down for years through your comedy, Amy, I find it surprising that you think a man who has bragged about strangling a woman and reportedly made troll accounts to harass feminist bloggers is not worth a tweet.
As Doree Shafrir wrote in an essay for Buzzfeed, Schumer has earned her reputation as Prominent Feminist Comedian. However, Shafrir adds "there’s a cognitive dissonance in using your influence and the language and power of feminism when it’s convenient, and then withdrawing and/or getting defensive when there’s a whiff of controversy around you or your work."
Shafrir also addresses a complaint I've heard a lot in telling friends and family about my Schumer experience, which is that it isn't fair to expect Schumer to condemn Metzger just because she's hired him.
"You could argue that it’s 'feminist policing,' that we expect more from our female celebrities than we do our male ones, that it’s put Schumer in an unwinnable position and we shouldn’t take her to task for her reaction, that she probably hopes it will just blow over," Shafrir writes.
"The problem with these arguments is that Schumer — whether she likes it or not — does have a responsibility, which she finally acknowledged Wednesday. She’s become an icon for millions of women. She’s powerful, and she’s been adept at using this power when she wants to."
Schumer becoming such an icon for "millions of women" was always going to get her in trouble, because Schumer initially got famous for the brand of offensive white boy bro comedy that gets you on a Comedy Central Roast. This brand of comedy LOVES the punch-down racist jokes and rape jokes dudes like Metzger take to Twitter to fight for their right to tell, and Schumer still seems to have just as many fans who love her racist bits about being raped by Hispanics as she does fans who love the gun control stuff and Football Town Nights.
These two opposing groups of Schumer stans — the Metzger bros, and the feminists dying for the perfect ally — were unlikely to coexist peacefully for as long as they did. In August, we all asked Schumer to pick a side. In today's Lenny Letter, she made it pretty clear to me that the side is "whichever is most convenient to Amy Schumer at the time."