When you look into the career of a comedian, it’s rare to find a stand-up female comedian, with statistics from Zippia saying that 11.3% of stand-up comics are women. Iliza Shlesinger is a woman who has had a great career as a comic, having just released her sixth Netflix special and a new book, All Things Aside.
While her job is to make people laugh, Shlesinger generally pulls from her life experiences and makes jokes about the female experience, such as dating, having to shop for bras, and being on social media. While guys might not relate to these things, she does not want to alienate males from her comedy.
“I’ve built a career the last five specials talking to people in general, but I always want girls to feel good, to know that I’m on their side…” she says in her Netflix special, Hot Forever. “But, boys, that doesn’t mean I’m not on your side. I’m on no one’s side. I want everyone to do well. And boys, I want you to have the information and the wisdom nuggets that girls have…”
So what does she want boys to take away from her new Netflix special, Hot Forever? Here are some highlights:
“Getting naked should be a seductive dance.”
“You get naked so fast,” Shlesinger says in her scene work after a girl has agreed to go home with a boy. The girl has barely said okay, and the boy is practically already naked.
He is naked in his own home trying to make the girl comfortable, but the girl is already uncomfortable because the boy is already naked. That, and girls have had a lifetime of dealing with insecurities with our bodies and society telling us there are ways to be prettier. Sometimes, a moment is needed to get undressed, settled, and to decide if there’s chemistry. We’re not prepared for you to be naked, hop into bed, and accidentally show us your buttholes.
It’s awkward. I have been on first dates with guys who have just tried kissing me and it has made me uncomfortable rejecting them. Please read the room.
“We want you to get it. We don’t want you to be embarrassed.”
There’s a part in the Hot Forever special where Shlesinger talks about shopping for bras, and how it was especially hard for her to shop for bras when she was younger because her boobs were bigger than most girls at that age. Sometimes they make bras too complicated to put on and remove which can be hard for boys trying to remove a bra for the first time.
“He pulls away from kissing so he can look over your back and look down at his work. Of course he has to look at your back, of course he needs his eyes on his paper. He can’t do that for the first time, sight unseen…” Shlesinger recounts for her audience. This is the first time girls will understand “male fragility.”
And as a girl, sometimes I don’t even want to put on a bra. Beyond taking time to put on, they can be uncomfortable, and sometimes my boobs are sore. I don’t always want to have to stretch to put it on. If I choose to wear a workout bra, which is more comfortable and easier to put on, I’m reminded of the times I was told that my boobs look better in a push-up bra. Sometimes there’s simply no winning. Be patient.
“Men are able to compartmentalize…they are simple. And I envy that.”
“Your partner just wants you to feel good, right? Your husband, your boyfriend, they want you to feel good. They don’t understand the complexity of self-loathing when it comes to being a girl. They don’t understand that everything is attached to everything and nothing is an isolated incident…” Shlesinger tries to get empathy from the crowd as she describes how she ruined a trip with her husband. “Not that simple for girls, is it?… No. It’s attached to many things because everything is everything and it’s all happening at once.”
It’s never about the one thing. I remember being the one to ruin a trip with my boyfriend. My anxiety started to spike for some reason, and then I started to worry about how if I had a meltdown I would ruin the fun day we were having. So then I started to internalize so that I wouldn’t say anything to ruin the trip, and when he asked if I was okay, I just nodded my head. It all built up in my head, and by the end of the day I tried being considerate and isolating myself to cry so he wouldn’t have to see it.
It upset him greatly, more because he felt like I had abandoned him. “I wish you just shared your thoughts with me when you get upset like this so I can help you feel better,” he said. It was reasonable, and as great as most of that trip was, the thing that stands out in my mind is that last night when I hurt both of us by being so in my head.
This situation is more about how Shlesinger envies the simplicity of a man’s mind. She is trying to get men to understand the daily inner struggles of being a girl. It’s a constant cycle: “We are constantly beating ourselves up as women, and we are constantly feeling bad. And then I started to feel bad about the fact that we feel bad, and then I started to think on the fact that we have a mental illness in this country where, as totally normal women, we just feel bad about ourselves, or we just feel gross.”
Sometimes men think the answer is so simple. “I was feeling so bad about myself and so mad at myself and just awful, and my husband looks at me and he goes, ‘Well, I think you’re beautiful,'” Shlesinger recounts. While it isn’t always the whole solution, it does help our feeling of self-doubt a little bit.
“I wish that women could speak to men in real life with the impunity with which you speak to us online.”
“There is an anger toward women in our world, in our country,” Shlesinger declares. “You can see it with the current legislation that’s being written. However, I wrote this joke before all this happened. Lucky for me, hating women is evergreen and so these jokes still work. But there is an anger toward women when they don’t give attention, a sexual experience, love, admiration, a conversation to an absolute stranger and there can be deadly consequences for it. And that’s not her fault, but this is what happens.”
I don’t think it is just something that happens online. Yes, the social media space can be quite nasty, but it is also hard to be a girl in real life. I think of Miya, the Black girl who worked at Arden Villas on University Blvd, who had the audacity to reject a maintenance man who tried pursuing her. He couldn’t handle her rejection so much that he ambushed her in her own apartment and she isn’t around anymore to talk about it.
My boyfriend sometimes thinks I worry too much. When we walk around the city at night, I am on high alert so that no one jumps us. My eyes are always paying attention to my drink when we go out because I don’t want to accidentally consume something I’m not supposed to. I would like to believe that I am a nice person, but I would be lying if part of that is because I don’t want someone to tear my character apart for letting my smile drop for a minute. I feel that, as a girl, I have to have a hyper-awareness of how I live my life as society has programmed this fear into me.
“You can get a girl, boys. Magicians have girlfriends.”
“It’s so easy to get a girl. By virtue of the fact that there are more women than men on this planet, it means the odds are ever in your favor, okay?” Shlesinger stares down the audience. “The fact that women are brainwashed into thinking that we lose value as we get older, that’s not true, but as we get older, our standards aren’t lowered, but they are negotiable. So you can get in there. And I know, I’m supposed to stand here and be like, ‘All women are fucking treasures,’ and we are…”
It’s true, sometimes it is as simple as being nice. My boyfriend got me just by being patient with me. All of my single friends tell me what dating is like, but some boys are just inconsistent and want to play games. I have a friend who just suggested that they go to a different place to meet. The boy got angry and canceled, claiming she was ungrateful. She just didn’t want to drive all the way across town and wanted to make a halfway point.
It’s not complicated. Start with being nice, acting normal, and it will work from there. And if not, Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution will deal with it from there.
“We already know the sex will most likely be mediocre for the girl,” Shlesinger announces. She then says, “And then if she accidentally gets pregnant, depending on the state, she will be forced to carry that child to term.”
This is a horrible consequence that only the female has to deal with for trying to enjoy the same pleasure that a man gets to have, and that affects our bodies in such a life-altering way. There are so many things that girls have to worry about when it comes to our bodies, from making sure that society doesn’t shame us for how we look to making sure that our vaginas don’t offend our partners. Being pregnant has the ability to alter both of these things beyond our control.
When it comes to women’s health, it is so important for men to understand that being pro-choice isn’t about killing babies. It’s about protecting women and understanding every situation is complicated, so the solution is pro-choice. Shlesinger said it best: “And if you, for whatever reason your heart desires, you want to keep your baby, that is fine. I want you to keep your baby. Just don’t make that choice for other women, okay?”
I’m not sure how many boys will actually read this, but I agree with Shlesinger that these are some things that everyone should be mindful of, whether you’re a boy or not. Life is hard, people are complex, and being nice or a little empathetic goes a long way.