No, not even Ann Coulter | Photo: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0
One morning last week, I woke up to a message from my friend L.
L: “I just felt sympathy for Ann Coulter…”
Me: “…Did it hurt?”
L: “Yes…. Yes it did.”
He was referring to Coulter’s recent appearance on the roast of Rob Lowe on Comedy Central. He wasn’t sympathetic to her because she bombed (which she did. Hard.) or because others pointed out her racist, xenophobic, and downright backwards ideas (which they did). But rather, because many of the comedians decided to go after Coulter for an entirely different reason: her appearance. And then media outlets decided that these body-based insults were among the “best” of the night. And now, it is officially the end of the world, because I’m about to defend Ann Coulter. I feel a little dizzy.
Now, before we go further, I feel the need to clarify: I hate Ann Coulter. I hate her with the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns. I hate the fact that she denies the positive impact that feminism has had on her life, and that she even goes so far as to say that women shouldn’t vote. I hate that she is shoddy, manipulative, and downright dishonest in her books, most of which have “clever” titles like Why Liberals Are Wrong About Everything. (And I’m not going to link to said book, because every time someone visits Ann Coulter’s Amazon page, a white supremacist gets his swastika forehead tattoo.) I hate the fact that her particular brand of delusional vitriol is now so commonplace and almost boring that she is having to go to even further heights (or rather, depths) to get attention. I think she is a bad, bad person, and that if Hell exists, Phyllis Schlafly is saving her a seat in it.
But Ann Coulter still does not deserve to have her body and her appearance serve as the basis for jokes about her. Because (say it with me): no one deserves to have jokes made about their appearance.
In a roundup of insults by Vulture, Ann Coulter is compared to a scarecrow, Beetlejuice, a ghost, a skeleton, a horse, a “truck stop transvestite whore” (which manages to mix transphobia and misogyny, way to go, Jimmy Carr), and an abortion. She is called “hatchet-faced,” and it is implied that she can’t get a husband. Because we all know that the ultimate proof of our desirability as women is that someone “puts a ring on it”!
I’m gonna let you in on a little secret that liberals seem to forget sometimes: misogyny is always misogyny, even when it is aimed at people we don’t like. We don’t magically obtain “get out of jail free” cards for doing sexist actions when they are geared towards people who are sexist themselves. The fact that Ann Coulter is a hateful woman does not mean that it is okay to mock her appearance, her sexuality, or her body. Most importantly, just because the other side is doing it, doesn’t mean that we should. “She/he did it first” is an excuse that doesn’t fly on the playground, let alone in supposedly progressive circles. If you would get mad at Ann Coulter for saying something about another woman, then you shouldn’t say it about Ann Coulter.
There are many, many mockable things about Ann Coulter. Her appearance shouldn’t be one of them.
Elle Irise is a regular contributor to This Week In Tomorrow. When she’s not reminding us that as progressives we need to be better, she studies gender in popular culture.
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