Nothing reveals the jerks among us like high-profile allegations of gendered violence. This is what happened over the weekend following news that comedian Aaron Glaser had been banned from New York's Upright Citizens Brigade theater following allegations of sexual assault from multiple female comedians.
As if that situation wasn't horrible enough, Kurt Metzger, erstwhile writer for Inside Amy Schumer, latched onto the allegations on social media, and decided to spend plenty of time disparaging rape victims and the people who support them, and generally embodying every "Actually" comment I've ever heard a rape apologist use.
Let me be clear: We can have an adult conversation about the delicate balance of listening to victims with respect and compassion while also corroborating allegations and allowing alleged perpetrators a chance to refute those allegations—
Oh, wait, sorry, that's something journalists covering rape cases need to do. Not the Encyclopedia Browns of gotcha anti-feminism.
What I find most disturbing about Metzger's ongoing tirade is his apparent disappointment at not being given the details of the alleged assaults:
"We don't even get a story." That's weird phrasing, isn't it? It's one thing to say that corroborating evidence is needed. But it's another to feel entitled to the details of someone else's trauma, especially when Metzger is not a journalist or a prosecutor or a police officer or other person vested in Getting to the Bottom of This, but in fact a person whose behavior suggests a shocking level of disdain and disrespect for women. This reads less to me like empathy and a lot more like what might be most charitably called schadenfreude.
Many women comedians and writers took to Twitter to speak out against Metzger, with some encouraging Amy Schumer to fire him from his job as a writer on her TV show.
I applaud Amy Schumer for taking stands on rape & intimate partner violence — but that's not compatible with protecting or paying Metzger.
— Sady Doyle (@sadydoyle) August 18, 2016
It seems Schumer responded by blocking many of the accounts these pleas came from and telling people to stop asking her about Metzger. She finally posted this tweet:
I am so saddened and disappointed in Kurt Metzger. He is my friend and a great writer and I couldn't be more against his recent actions.
— Amy Schumer (@amyschumer) August 17, 2016
...and told Charlie Rose that Metzger is a valuable person to have in the writer's room:
She also seemed to imply that her show had been canceled. It has not.
I do not envy Amy Schumer right now, although it's worth pointing out that what she's facing—finding out that someone you've been friends with has likely treated women horribly—is not an aberration but a common enough occurrence if you're a person with feminist values in a world that rarely adheres to them. Yeah, it's hard! This is tricky! But I don't find her half-assed, latecoming apology all that convincing, and her suggestion that people stop asking her about Metzger is even worse—given Metzger's inflammatory comments, she's clearly telling the wrong people to be quiet.
Amy Schumer is often upheld as a sort of feminist icon, and this situation shows exactly how bad an idea it is to affix ideology to a celebrity. Schumer may identify as a feminist, but treating her as The Feminist is only going to result in disappointment when we're reminded that she's a flawed human who at one point told casually racist rape jokes in her act and has kept Metzger in her retinue, despite reports of his misogyny that have been around for years. It's unfair to expect perfection from Schumer, but given that she's spoken out against sexual assault and made feminism such a part of her public persona, her discordant, reticent response to actual harassment shouldn't be beyond criticism.