In a world bent on pushing beauty treatments, expensive garments, sky-high heels that cost a fortune, and plastic surgery, one could argue that women have gone back several decades in terms of the conquests of the feminists of the 1960s.
In many Western cultures, flat shoes, infrequently waxed armpits and legs, and comfortable clothes are constantly frowned upon. If we let the dominant media have a say, nobody is going to love a woman who does not adhere to beauty standards; we must buy makeup and heels, and be proper and quiet at all times in order to secure a mate. Giant silicon breasts, collagen lips, and tattooed makeup can also be of great help.
This context is arguably enough in itself to justify the success of Amy Schumer. Here is a woman who dares to be herself, who dares to be sexy with her normal girl body, and is not afraid to call people on their BS, whether it appears convenient or not.
Over the years, Schumer has been making America and the world laugh about the ridiculousness of some of our social conventions. In doing so, she has also empowered women and taught men a thing or two about what women really need from a man.
10. Hollywood´s Women As Accessories to Men
Schumer totally nailed the discussion about women’s roles in movies with her “hysterical wives” skit on Inside Amy Schumer. She recruited several Oscar winners, including Julianne Moore and Jennifer Hudson, to play wives who are always on the phone waiting for their husbands, the film’s heroes, to return from some big adventure.
The imaginary films had titles like The Clumsy Coal Miner, The Time Traveler’s Wife’s Husband, The Wallaby Whisperer, and The Phone Rings Eternal, all pointing to a male protagonist for whom the wife character is a mere accessory. The skit was hilarious, and thanks to the humor, it made a powerful case for revising Hollywood’s portrayals of women.
9. Glamour & Plus Size Discrimination
When Glamour included Schumer in its Plus Size Only issue, she was not thrilled. Amy doesn’t fit any stereotype. She is not fat and approachable like Melissa McCarthy, she is not ugly, and she wouldn’t pass for a model. She has a toned body and some bits of fat in parts where models do not. She dresses sexy and is really hot, and likes to speak out about how easy it is for her to pick up boys.
Schumer spoke out about Glamour’s pigeonholing of her, because she feels that nobody wants to be called Plus Size, as she told Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show: “We don’t need these labels. We don’t need them. It should just say what size you are, right?” To clarify the size controversy, she later published a very non-plus-size photo of herself in a bikini.
8. Putting the P word in Comedy Central
Before Schumer, the P-word would get bleeped out on Comedy Central. Because saying the D-word was allowed, the comedian and her team felt the rule was a tad sexist. When Schumer won the battle to end the censorship, she celebrated by becoming an animated meerkat with a visible vagina in one of the episodes.
In a way, Schumer put the female member at the center of mainstream comedy, sending a message that women do not need to hide the fact that they have a vagina, and that it’s okay to make fun of it sometimes (just as much as male comedians do with their members).
7. Trashian Kardashian
While the fascination with all things Kardashian eludes many of us, America’s fascination with the Armenian millionaires is undeniable. Yes, they sometimes get mocked about this and that, but at the end of the day, their reality shows are a hit, and people can’t wait to browse through their paparazzi photos, learn about what they eat, where they shop, and what not.
Schumer was quite eloquent on SNL when she referred to the Kardashian sisters, pleading for better role models. “We have to be a role model for these little girls. Because who do they have? All they have literally is the Kardashians,” she said, “A whole family who take the faces they were born with as a light suggestion? No!” She went on to make a point about Khloe having “lost half her body weight,” and what that meant to her identity.
After the SNL episode aired, Khloe Kardashian, who is not exactly as eloquent as Schumer, responded from her Twitter account, “No need 2 tear down others just 2 make urself feel bigger. It actually makes u quite small. I’m on a healthy journey. I don’t care 4the hate.”
6. The “Topless Cover” Media Stunt
When we all saw the headline, “Amy Schumer goes topless for her book cover,” we were all kind of puzzled. While men probably clicked through because anything is a good excuse to see boobs, women might have clicked simply out of disbelief that this icon of female power might have bared her rack to sell more books. After all, isn’t that what she is always criticizing, the objectification of women?
It turns out it was all a media stunt. The moment was still influential, because it showed us how little our culture cares about the content of a book, and how much it cares about boobs.
5. Amy & Lena Shame Body Shamers
Working in a different genre, Lena Dunham has revolutionized media portrayals of women probably as much as Amy Schumer. The two female icons recently joined forces to ironize about the evils of shopping for average size clothes. Dunham was a guest on the Inside Amy Schumer sketch that shows Schumer trying to find a size 12 shirt. After being shamed by the skinny shop assistant, Schumer is sent out into a section for people with her problem, where both Lena Dunham and a cow are shopping for clothes.
When Schumer finally gets the cover-all raincoat – to hide her problem areas – recommended by the insufferable shop assistant, she gets a pretzel in the shopping bag. “We assume that’s where you will be going next,” the woman tells her.
For anyone who ever tried to shop for normal size clothes at a hip store where shop assistants treat you like the plague if you are looking for a size over 8, the sketch must have offered tremendous comic relief.
4. The Politics of Menstruation
A few years back, a conservative radio host criticized the appointment of a female Judge to the Supreme Court, indicating that the nation would face dire circumstances if she happened to be menstruating on a day when she had to make an important decision. While one would think that nobody would take such remarks seriously in 2016, the fact is that female hormones are systematically described in a derogatory way in popular culture.
Both male and female scientists have often pointed out that men have as much hormonal action as women, in spite of the fact that there is no visible sign of it going on, like menstruation. But the idea that women have no control over their actions and emotions while menstruating is deeply ingrained in our culture.
To debunk the myth of menstruation panic, Schumer created a skit where she plays America’s first female President, who happens to get her period on her first day in office. The character goes on to interrupt emergency meetings to ask for an Advil, lose her nerve when an Israeli diplomat eats her chocolate, and interrupts the overseeing of a Navy operation to change her tampon.
3. Military Sexual Assault Shouldn’t be a Secret
According to some recent studies from the Human Rights Watch, people who report sexual assault while serving in the military often suffer retaliation, including dishonorable dismissal. When Schumer tackled the issue of military sexual assault in her show, we learnt that no subject is too sensitive when she is inclined to speak her mind.
In Schumer’s skit, she is playing a military video game. When her character gets sexually assaulted, a message appears on the screen, “Do you wish to report?” The question is followed by others that say, “Are you sure?” and, “Did you know he has a family?” Schumer’s video game alter ego is later flooded with paperwork and has to answer questions like, “What were you wearing?” at the Pentagon. Finally, the culprit is found guilty in a court martial, but his superior chooses not to accept the sentence.
For the thousands of sexual assault victims in the U.S. military – there were 19,000 reported cases in 2014 alone – the skit must have offered some degree of relief. For the rest of America, it was a much needed wakeup call to create suitable conditions for reporting military sexual assault and punish offenders, regardless of their military rank or standing.
2. Maybe Guns Have Kind of Something to Do with Gun Violence?
Schumer has been an advocate for gun control for a long time, but a mass shooting during a screening of her film Trainwreck rendered her more vocal than ever. Following the events, she spoke publicly accompanied by her cousin, who happens to be a New York senator.
But nothing had more impact than her hilarious SNL sketch, in which she played an infomercial hostess trying to sell guns. The character advertised the guns as the perfect gift for terrorists, convicted felons, and young children. The main irony point of the comedy was the no-background-checks-required policy. The people who dialed the number that appeared on the screen were redirected to a message about gun safety.
People, Upworthy, Esquire, CBS, Variety, and virtually every U.S. news source under the sun commented on the skit. Schumer’s advocacy has also demonstrated a certain degree of political influence. A testimony to that is the fact that she was in the front row at the White House during Obama’s presentation of executive measures to reduce gun violence in America.
1. Last F—-ble Day
This Inside Amy Schumer sketch probably had more impact than all the speeches by prominent actresses and female rights activists advocating more roles for older actresses put together. Form Vogue to Vanity Fair and from The Guardian to The Huffington Post, everyone had a feature about it.
Actually, Schumer is basically an observer in the story, where Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays the lead, accompanied by Patricia Arquette and Tina Fey. As Schumer hikes through a relaxing hillside in California, she stumbles upon the three actresses, who invite her to their lavish picnic. When she asks what they are celebrating, they reveal that the grand occasion is Louis-Dreyfus’ “last f—able day.” The stars go on to explain the details of the moment that comes to every actress in Hollywood at some point in their career.
Everybody knows that newer models are often preferred to play the love interests of older male actors, and that there aren’t enough strong roles for older women. The sketch is powerful, because in spite of the comic and somewhat surrealist packaging, what it portrays is actually a reality in Hollywood. While actresses may not have a picnic to say goodbye to their “f—able days,” they sure know the day has come when all the roles they get offered are sweet mothers and grandmothers. On the week that the episode aired, all of America was talking about it, which is a testimony to the power of humor to change the status quo and the power of Schumer to shake things up in style.