Uber and Cosby and Sagal, oh my

Partir un peu et revenir beaucoup

Good morning, good morning. I slept in this Monday morning, and only got to writing after the boy and his mama were off for the ride to school. The sun is bright and beautiful here, unfortunately. I keep hoping for a string of rainy days in a row.

Yesterday, I listened to the most recent episode of Wait Don’t Tell Me, one of my weekend pleasures. Do you listen to this show? It’s a goofy news quiz show on NPR that makes fun of current events, some satire, some outright comedy, and can provide an opportunity to laugh at the ridiculous and horrifying goings-ons around the world, and especially in our country. The show has three guest comedians every week, and I’ve been grateful that they’ve been including more comedians of color, though they continue to seem to have a difficult time booking more than one female comedian at a time (no problems, though, finding two male comedians almost every week, and sometimes three).

This week, one of the news items up for skewering had to do with the Uber executive who, at a dinner party, supposedly threatened to invest a million dollars in order to dig up personal details on a journalist who was criticizing the company. (Not being online much these days, I was surprised to hear about the scandals; my sweetheart filled me in on some of the details:the CEO using the term “Boob-er” because he women “on demand” (let’s have another conversation about that later, women who would happily date this guy) now his company is so successful, and also the reports of women who felt unsafe on Uber rides and folks who have been attacked by Uber drivers. Yikes.)

And then Sagal mocked the folks who are protesting Uber’s company culture and the behavior of its leadership by deleting the app from their phones. He said the service was so easy to use that there was no way most people will walk away, and that even if your ride showed up and Bill Cosby was the driver, you’d still get in and take the ride. Here’s an excerpt of the transcript from the show’s website:

~~ ~~ ~~
SAGAL: This week though, one of the [Uber] execs was caught promising to hire investigators to look into the private lives of journalists who were investigating their business practices. So now people – this is an amazing movement – people are denouncing Uber. They’re saying they won’t use it anymore. That’s right, they’re taking a stand by deleting an app from their phones.
[PJ] O’ROURKE: Brave, brave Americans.
SAGAL: That’s – move over Gandhi. Right? I mean this is…
O’ROURKE: Forget Washington at Valley Forge.
SAGAL: Right. It won’t work. It won’t work. Anybody who has used Uber is addicted to Uber. It is so convenient. If you called Uber and Bill Cosby was the driver, you’d get in.
~~ ~~ ~~

Now, of course, you may have heard that Bill Cosby has been in the again news lately, this time not for taking working class and poor Black folks to task, but because he’s got at more than twenty women who tell the similar stories about how he sexually assaulted them — including women who describe being driven out to isolated areas and assaulted — and those women are not going away, even though they’ve been telling their stories for over a decade, and it hasn’t seemed to impact Cosby’s career until now. Suddenly, folks are listening, after a comedian called Cosby out around these allegations— talk show hosts are cancelling Cosby’s scheduled interviews, a tv show that had been in the works has been scrapped, and one channel even pulled reruns of The Cosby Show.

I’m not going to get into a Cosby rant here — the one in which I stand in my sweetheart’s kitchen and ask, over and over again, Why would someone do this? Why do men drug women so they can have sex with them? What makes that a turn on? What happens to you in your life to skew you in such a way that you can possibly get hard enough to rape? Why is it fun?

Please, if you have answers to these questions, don’t give them to me. I don’t want to know that you know, that you understand, that you can explain. I don’t want to know that you’ve done it or could imagine doing it. Not today.

No, instead, I want to understand why Peter Sagal thinks it’s funny to make a rapist joke on his show. I want to know why he’s aligning with Uber by attempting to undermine the #deleteuber campaign, mocking it as effectively calling for inaction. Uber is all about its app — if you don’t have the app, you don’t have the service. Deleting the app is taking a meaningful step toward holding this company accountable for its culture and behavior. If the company loses customers, loses business, maybe there will actually be some changes in its corporate culture. Calling out the company for its inhumane behavior hasn’t had any impact on its massive growth — venture capitalists don’t care if someone’s an asshole; they only care if that someone’s company is making money. Stop making money, or start making less, and maybe then all of a sudden the founder’s misogyny is a problem and the culture gets a shake up (see: Dov Charney and American Apparel).

So, yes, please #deleteuber. Let’s get a dent in those profits, and maybe make a dent in the Uber CEO’s massive ego.

And What about Peter Sagal’s Cosby remark? It wasn’t just unfortunate– it shows a profound lack of concern for listeners who have survived rape, who are, in fact, also NPR listeners, regardless of whatever classist assumptions the show’s writers or NPR makes about folks who rape or are raped.

It just isn’t fucking funny.

This is the point in the post at which I’m supposed to defend myself against accusations/dismissals as a humorless feminist — where I say that I really do have a sense of humor, I laugh at all sorts of inappropriate stuff, honest, it’s not that I don’t get a good joke, it’s just that this one was really not funny, seriously, you guys. But you know what? Fuck that. Folks can call me humorless if they want. It’s just a joke isn’t an excuse. It doesn’t work anymore. I was just kidding is bullshit, and folks know it. The writers at Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me chose that joke for a reason, and it was to prove some kind of point about NPR not being soft, not being afraid, not being emasculated: We can be thoughtless about women’s issues, too, guys!

Here’s what’s true — a man can be tagged with the term misogynist for decades and still make billions of dollars. But call a woman an angry feminist and she’s supposed to run crying into the closet and come out wearing spangles and fishnets, dancing as fast as she can to a John Mayer or Eminem or R. Kelly or Chris Brown record to prove that she’s totally cool and totally gets it and totally just wants to be one of the guys (but still less than, of course) and totally was just kidding when she called them out.

(What would happen if women were less afraid of being called angry? Or feminist, for goodness’ sake?)

Anyway: what a way to derail a simple weekend pleasure, guys. Listen, we know you can be edgy. Try another tactic, and don’t throw women or rape victims under the bus in the name of a joke. Thanks.

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