Last week, Steven Colbert made fun of Republicans who complained that hurricane Sandy was “good luck” for Obama, imitating their annoyance with, “’…Sandy? What kind of a name is that? Are you a dude storm or a lady storm?’” Yes folks, Steven Colbert is hip to intersex humor (intersex people, fyi, are born with sex anatomy considered both male and female, or atypical for either). I was already laughing, then he doubled me over with, “just when Obama needs a boost, who shows up but a gender ambiguous weather system!”
I felt like he was making fun of not just them, but the asshole comic I’d seen a few weeks before who screamed “I don’t even know if you’re a f***ing boy or a girl” at me from onstage. Unlike Colbert, that guy didn’t make me laugh. He said it so meanly that I automatically threw it back at him, like verbal aikido. But the crowd couldn’t hear what I was saying because he kept yelling over me into the microphone, so I ended up throwing my water bottle at him. I threw it off to the side a little, to avoid actual assault, but I still felt a little bad about it. Until I realized why I was judging my reaction.
Women, you see — and I was raised as, and identify more as, a woman — are supposed to know better than to hit people or throw shit at people who mess with us. We’re supposed to be mature and behaved and not “sink to the same level” as others, while men are given the go ahead to seek payback. How many movies, for example, feature the guy who’s righteously seeking revenge because someone wronged him or his family?
I’ve always loved it when guys use their license-to-be-violent to fight bigots or bashers, so why be judgmental of myself for doing it? After all, I don’t want or have a man to stand up for me anyway, so why leave to the guys what I can do for myself? While it might not make me as evolved as Gandhi, my guilt is gone.
Actually, I’m kind of surprised that this guy is able to book gigs at all in today’s anti-bullying era. I’m sure he tailors his act to the crowd, and I was unlucky enough to catch him in a part of Connecticut that even my friend, a resident, called “hick-ish.” But in lots of other places it’s not cool anymore to be racist or homophobic, so what’s left for people who like to bash if they can’t say the “n” word or even the “f “ word (for “fag”)? I’ll tell you what: gender ambiguity.
People can still get away with throwing “is that a boy or a girl?” insults because intersex people, originally known as hermaphrodites, are easy targets. We’re a group that people have just started to admit really exists, outside of Greek mythology. We’re the mysterious “I” at the end of LGBTQI, at the bottom of the status quo totem pole.
So when Colbert mocks people who care more about keeping tax cuts for the wealthy than the lives devastated all over the Eastern coast, by envisioning them as intersex-bashers, he’s sticking up for all of us who’ve ever been bullied. He’s saying that it’s heartless, self-centered assholes that try and get ahead at other people’s expense – especially marginalized people’s expense.
I’ve long been a fan, but the Colbert Show just got even cooler.