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December 5, 2008

Margaret Cho: Evil Slut?

Today is Margaret Cho's birthday.

Since we absolutely love her (and think everyone else should as well) we thought we dedicate an entire blog entry to her awesomeness. Obviously we could never give a complete account of her full awesomeness... but we thought we'd at least touch on a few awesome points, expressed straight from the Cho herself (in the form of awesome quotes that we have blatantly stolen from her blog and other articles).


Why We Love Margaret Cho...


Photo credit: Austin Young
(blatantly stolen from margaretcho.com)




She is a strong supporter of GLBT Rights.
"I don't identify as gay or straight, as lesbian -- these labels are a way for the straight world to organize who we are and they don't serve anybody well." [Los Angeles Times article]

You may have seen Margaret in "No on Prop 8" ads and protests. Did you also know that she was deputized by the city of San Francisco to perform marriages shortly after the same-sex marriage ban was lifted?
"It's an important issue for me because it's not really about marriage, it's about equality and recognizing everybody as equal... We can't call ourselves a free country if we don't have real freedom, and real freedom is applicable to everybody, not just to a certain group of people." [SFGate article]

She is a feminist icon...
"I think that when you don’t acknowledge sexism and you don’t acknowledge that you’re a feminist and you don’t acknowledge that you’re a person of color, it’s a way of saying, ‘I’m just like a white man. Just treat me like a white man because I don’t think race and sex is important.’ And I think that’s wrong because that in a way is separating yourself from the feminist cause and from the culture that you’re from because you’re saying, ‘I’m not like THEM.’ Even though you’re trying to convey this message that you’re above that, what you’re saying is that I’m excluding myself from that, so that there’s no unity there." [FEM Magazine interview]
"If you say you're not a feminist, you're almost denying your own existence. To be a feminist is to be alive." [Fanpop.com]

...but she doesn't follow all the "unwritten rules of Feminism".

That is, she defines her "feminism" for herself. (The way it should be). A while back, she wrote a blog about wanting to fuck Sarah Palin and a bunch of feminist bloggers were all up in arms about it. We, on the other hand, think we recognized what she was trying to do. She wasn't just being sexist and misogynistic... she was being funny (um, hello she's a comedian) and she was also commenting on Sarah Palin's anti-gay stance and Cho's own bisexuality and pro-sex standpoint. Margaret Cho realizes what more women should - that you don't have to live your life out of the "feminist 101 handbook" to be a feminist.


She's totally pro-sex!
"...I am all about supporting anything that benefits women and their sexuality." [Margaret's blog]
Too often people can't reconcile sexuality and feminism... and that's a shame. The Evil Slut Clique is all about sex-positive feminism, which centers on the idea that sexual freedom is an essential component of women's freedom. While we haven't heard Cho use that specific phrase, we think it's safe to assume that she's got similar viewpoints.
"Porn can be sexist and exploitative, but there is a lot out there that caters to women nowadays too. I think that a lot of old guard feminists had to work so hard to get out from underneath men that they are suspicious of anything that appears like the archetypes of the past, but burlesque makes fun of those archetypes, turns them completely around. It gives us power rather than takes it away." [SuicideGirls.com interview]

She's smokin' hot...

(Do we really need to explain this one? Just look at her!)


Photo credit: Austin Young
(blatantly stolen from margaretcho.com)


...and she is forcing society to redefine "beauty".

After a history of body image issues, she now realizes that beauty comes from the inside, not the outside.

"Just read an article about myself where I described myself as 'chubby' and I think that it is a fairly unacceptable description, and I want to apologize to myself for saying it, because that is just wrong. I am not chubby – and to call myself that is to endanger the lives of millions of young girls who look to the media to define who they are, who are constantly checking themselves for fear of wrecking themselves, who are afraid to be thought of as 'chubby,' who don’t realize that they are perfect as they are, and it is irresponsible. I fear they will read this article and look at my body and be scared because it is like theirs, and they will then think of themselves as 'chubby' and learn to hate themselves more. To call me 'chubby' is to call a billion women 'chubby' who shouldn’t think of themselves as anything less than hot and sexy and curvy and built. I am not 'chubby.' I am a real live perfectly beautiful woman, and just because I may be larger than the mostly anorexic female population in Hollywood, it doesn’t make me any less desirable or gorgeous because I like food. I take it back, as I must take back all the millions of insults that I hurl at myself without knowing it. I would never, ever say any of the horrible things I say to myself about myself to anyone else, not even someone I hated, because there is no one I could possibly hate that much. We must stop fighting the war against ourselves before we can truly start to love ourselves. We are not 'chubby,' we are perfect. We are beautiful. We are so very very beautiful." [Margaret's blog]


She went on a mission to redefine beauty... The Sensuous Woman, Cho's burlesque variety show, featured a broad range of performers celebrating women's bodies.

"We women are constantly at war with our bodies, it is hard to find amnesty for ourselves. I did it by dancing naked for a couple of years with 'The Sensuous Woman.' I think the best way to get over your body issues is to just flaunt your body at every opportunity. It is hard because the urge to criticize ourselves is overwhelmingly strong. I don’t know why that is. I think that all bodies are beautiful in millions of different ways – but I get down on myself too! Since I became a dancer, I have felt much better about myself." [Margaret's blog]


She's got brains too.


Despite never finishing high school, Cho is no dummy. If you listen to her speak or read her words, you'll be moved by the wisdom she holds. Her political commentary is intelligent and powerful. She has also written two books... I'm the One That I Want (2000) and I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight (2005), which focuses on war, racism, misogny, homophobia, politics, etc.





She is a (much needed) Asian role model.

Strong Asian women role models are unfortunately pretty much absent in the media today.

"...people recognize, in this whole journey, that I was the first Asian-American person they had seen with a TV show, or the first Asian-American person they’d seen doing stand-up comedy. That’s a really powerful thing. I think when you see images of yourself out there in the media, people who look like you, you really feel like you matter. You feel like you exist. That’s a huge thing for people!" [PR.com article]

This is a point she also addressed in relation to Gwen Stefani's "Harajuku Girls"...

"I want to like them, and I want to think they are great, but I am not sure if I can. I mean, racial stereotypes are really cute sometimes, and I don’t want to bum everyone out by pointing out the minstrel show. I think it is totally acceptable to enjoy the Harajuku girls, because there are not that many other Asian people out there in the media really, so we have to take whatever we can get. Amos ‘n Andy had lots of fans, didn’t they? At least it is a measure of visibility, which is much better than invisibility. I am so sick of not existing, that I would settle for following any white person around with an umbrella just so I could say I was there..."

"...Even though to me, a Japanese schoolgirl uniform is kind of like blackface, I am just in acceptance over it, because something is better than nothing. An ugly picture is better than a blank space, and it means that one day, we will have another display at the Museum of Asian Invisibility, that groups of children will crowd around in disbelief, because once upon a time, we weren’t there." [Margaret's blog]

She originally dealt with racist stereotypes on her TV show, All American Girl (originally she was told she was "too Asian" and then later she was told she "wasn't Asian enough").
“They wanted an authentic Korean family, and I was like, what is that? As if there is only one type of Korean family. The white world gets to speak to all ranges of experience. What is the authentic Caucasian experience? ‘Authenticity’ is another way of limiting who we can be, and it’s completely racist.” [Los Angeles Times article]

She faced her demons... and won.

After being told she needed to lose weight (to play the role of herself on her own TV show) she went on such an unhealthy crash diet that she caused herself kidney problems. After the show was canceled, she spiraled into a destruction fueled by drugs, alcohol, depression, and eating disorders. Yet she somehow managed to come back from it all, rebuild and repair. And then laugh about it in her act.

"Q: Drugs and alcohol, you can't tell someone who goes to AA or NA that there will be in a time in their life that they could use drugs or alcohol again. You've had some issues with drugs and alcohol, but you continue to use. Do you feel like you just over-used and that now you have a good balance between using and not using?"

A. "I think a lot of it has to do with maturity. You know that there's certainly ways to cope with things without using drugs and alcohol, and that you know, I think twelve steps programs are good for that and good for that. But I also think that twelve step programs aren't for everybody and that everybody is not an alcoholic and everybody is not addict. You know that it sort of depends on that person.

I spent a lot of time in programs and I really learned a lot, but then at the end of it I realized that I did not belong. I think that maybe this was the most important lesson, which is a good thing to know."

Q. "Absolutely. I just think that almost, there's such opposition to that, you just almost can't say that."

"I would caution against anybody who, because addition is a deadly disease, its something that people are unable to get free from it. The twelve steps programs are the only solution, for most people. Every once in a while there's a person that kind of doesn't get along. I think it just depends. For me, I just kind of grew out my destructive behavior. I grew out of depression, which I think is very rare too, so I'm not really sure. I don't know, I mean my story is certainly very, very unique." [OUT Spoken interview]


She's just fucking FUNNY!

Well, duh. There are countless examples, so here's just one of our old time faves... stolen from Margaret's myspace.






And surprised us all with her musical talent.

In addition to her Prop 8 protest song (and Prop 8 the Musical, ha ha)...





...have you heard her single I Cho Am A Woman?

And there will always be a soft spot in our... um, hearts... for "My Puss".






She's fiercely motivated.

(And not 'fierce' like Tyra Banks-fierce). She's got an amazingly full resume for someone of her age. One that isn't just full, but fulfilling. She fights for what she believes in, says what she thinks, and doesn't give up.


Ultimately, she's just an evil slut... like us.

"I went through this whole thing, I was like 'Am I gay? Am I straight?' And I realized, I'm just slutty. Where's my parade?" [I'm The One That I Want]

And that's why we love her.


Happy Birthday Margaret!



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4 comments:

Dollface said...

Margaret Cho rocks my socks off! Great post, I enjoyed reading it.

Charmaine said...

I love Margaret Cho. Oddly, my best friend is a Christian. For some reason we tolerate each other which probably makes her one of the "real" Christians as opposed to the monumentally judgemental kind.

One day Margaret Cho came up. My friend believes that homosexuality is wrong. I said, "If God is against homosexuals, why does he keep creating them?"

She stared at me for two minutes without speaking.

Anonymous said...

Margaret Cho called John McCain a 'terrible soldier' because he was captured. But he risked his life to help protect the country she is criticizing. I just don't understand.

Lilith said...

That's not what she said. What she actually said:

"I'm sick of John McCain. They keep saying that John McCain was a good soldier. He was captured. He must not have been that good"

She wasn't actually saying he was a terrible soldier, but that basically his biggest claim to fame was that he was such a good soldier but there's no evidence to support that. The only thing about his political career that he is famous for is having been a POW. That doesn't make someone a bad soldier, but it doesn't mean they're a good one either.

Cho is a comedian, not a pundit. Obviously she's not in a position to say whether he is or isn't a good soldier. She was making a joke about the fact that people wouldn't shut up about his having been a POW during the election, even though it has very little to do with his ability to be President.

Although... how good of a soldier was McCain? He graduated at the bottom of his class and crashed more than a few planes. Some have argued that he only made it as far as he did because of nepotism. The only thing he really did as a soldier that was good was surviving being a POW.

Was her joke in poor taste? Sure. Was it funny? That's a judgment call. Was it out of line? Maybe. I can't say I love every single thing she says. But I think you have to at least take it for what it was and not exaggerate what she said. She never called him a "terrible soldier" and she certainly never criticized the country.