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Does Hypocrisy Matter? / 2 Dope Queens & Sexual Harassment

Cover Image Courtesy of Oprah (Credit: Amy Pearl)

Without a lot of background, let’s just say that it’s sometimes hard to navigate the modern social justice landscape. Without expressing any opinion of my own, let me simply ask a question by way of example:

Is it okay to do something completely hypocritical
If you’re on the historically oppressed side of society?

Is it even hypocritical if, say, you’re two very funny and very socially aware black women forming the comedy duo 2 Dope Queens on WNYC? Here is a recent interview with 2DQs Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson called “2 Dope Queens’ Duo on ‘Getting Rid of the Good Ol’ Boy Days’ in Comedy.” And here is one of the lead quotes from the interview:

“We’re getting rid of the good ol’ boy days,” says Robinson of the showcase they co-founded in 2015 to give women, people of color and queer voices in comedy some space on a stage that’s crowded with straight white men. “By creating a healthy work environment and by collaborating with talent who’ve maybe felt discouraged by a lack of opportunity, we’re trying to show people it’s a new era.”

Given the current #MeToo environment and the much needed explosion of openness about sexual harassment in the workplace, it seems reasonable to assume that the 2DQ’s “healthy work environment” would include one free from at least the most flagrant forms of sexual harassment.

Hold that thought for a second. Now, take a listen to the segment 4:31 to 7:55 on 2DQ episode #38, “I Shaved My Pubes for This?” where they make a very well-intentioned effort to call attention to behind-the-scenes folk including a 21 year old male intern.

Here is the transcript from that section podcast:

Phoebe: “We’ve got this young little piece of something over here.”
Jessica: “Yeah.”
Phoebe: “Who are you? Get over here. Who are you?”
Jessica: “Yeah, who are you? Come on. You guys, we don’t know this man.”
Phoebe:  “Okay.”
Jessica: “Wow.”
Phoebe: “Okay, who are you? What’s your name?”
Intern: “Ophear.” (?)
Phoebe: “Ohhhhh!”
Jessica: “Wow.”

Phoebe: “Blow my weave back. Blow my weave back. Oh, my. Please…”
Jessica: “Your edges got like straight, um…” Laughter. “So, Ophear, I’m in a relashe [relationship] so I’m gonna tap out of the game, you know what I’m saying?”
Phoebe: “Wait, how old are you?”
Intern: “Twenty-one.”

Jessica: “You look like you could be somewhere between 21 and 46. So…”
Phoebe: “That’s what ethnicity does. You never know.”

Phoebe: “…You’re so like, like, do you sing R&B on the side? It’s a very sweet voice. It’s quite, it’s a whisper. You’re like, girl…”

Phoebe: “Are you a singer, a guitarist, a bassist? Any other ists?”
Jessica: “There’s like so many other instruments?”
Phoebe: “Violinists?
Jessica: “Yeah. Pianist. #IfYou’reReady” (?)
Phoebe: “Penis.
Jessica: “Yeah, also, #penis, excuse me…”

After which, they make clearly sexual reference to the fact that he plays saxophone and that they’re clearly going over the line into sexual harassment (which is laughed off because of how Jessica pronounces the word).

Jessica: “Sorry, WNYX, but also #notsorry. Don’t fucking put a beautiful  man on our show that you haven’t introduced us to.”

Jessica: “Ophear. Oh, thank you.” (feigning  orgasm)
Phoebe: “Oh my god.”

Now, clearly, this is a comedy podcast with a raunchy side and I’m sure you could find far worse on older male shows like Howard Stern (far, far worse). I don’t care what they say on stage, or what their comedians say, but this is not a comedian or guest: it’s a young intern (i.e., an employee). So, for the sake of argument, let’s just pretend the genders were reversed and there were 2 Dope Kings (30-something men) bringing a young female intern out on stage:

Dope King 1: “We’ve got this young little piece of something over here.”
Dope King 2: “Yeah.”
Dope King 1: “Who are you? Get over here. Who are you?”
Dope King 2: “Yeah, who are you? Come on. You guys, we don’t know this man.”
Dope King 1: “Okay.”
Dope King 2: “Wow.”
Dope King 1: “Okay, who are you? What’s your name?”
Intern: “Ophera.” (?)
Dope King 1: “Ohhhhh!”
Dope King 2: “Wow.”
Dope King 1: “Blow my hair back. Blow my hair back. Oh, my. Please…”
Dope King 2: “Your hair just stood up on end, um…” Laughter. “So, Ophera, I’m in a relashe [relationship] so I’m gonna tap out of the game, you know what I’m saying?”
Dope King 1: “Wait, how old are you?”
Intern: “Twenty-one.”

Dope King 2: “You look like you could be somewhere between 21 and 46. So…”
Dope King 1: “That’s what ethnicity does. You never know.”

Dope King 1: “…You’re so like, like, do you sing R&B on the side? It’s a very sweet voice. It’s quite, it’s a whisper. You’re like, boy…”

Dope King 1: “Are you a singer, a guitarist, a bassist? Any other ists?”
Dope King 2: “There’s like so many other instruments?”
Dope King 1: “Violinists?
Dope King 2: “Yeah…” (Musical instrument that sounds like ‘vagina’)
Dope King 1: “Vagina.”
Dope King 2: “Yeah, also, #vagina, excuse me…”

After which, they make clearly sexual reference to the fact that she plays saxophone and that they’re clearly going over the line into sexual harassment (which is laughed off because of how Dope King 2 pronounces the word).

Dope King 2: “Sorry, WNYX, but also #notsorry. Don’t fucking put a beautiful woman on our show that you haven’t introduced us to.”

Dope King 2: “Ophera. Oh, thank you.” (feigning orgasm)
Dope King 1: “Oh my god.”

Ignoring the fact that an exact gender swap in the dialog is not possible because of the weave and musical instrument references, my question is whether this transcript reflects the creation of a “healthy work environment” generally, and specifically for this twenty-one-year-old male with no power at the beginning of his career?

I imagine the answer is, probably not, but who cares? Women have faced so much greater sexual harassment historically that this is just nitpicking. So, and just to make it easier to understand the rules, what level of sexual harassment is therefore acceptable as long as it’s done by women to men? It’s an honest question, and I’m honestly not sure I know the answer for today’s media workplace. So…a little help?

Peace.

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