jena friedman conan me too nazis

Comedian Jena Friedman Has Some Unfortunately Apt Advice for How to Combat Nazis: Treat Them Like Women

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A lot has been said about these strange times we’re living in, when actual Nazis are holding public rallies and having seemingly endless New York Times profiles written about them. What can we do to de-normalize and combat white supremacy? It’s hard to shame them when they’ve been emboldened by the current political landscape. And not everyone thinks it’s acceptable to respond with violence. So what can we do?

Comedian Jena Friedman was on Conan last week, and she has a suggestion. It’s not like white supremacists didn’t exist before Trump took office, but suddenly Nazis feel way too safe in declaring themselves to be such. And if we want people to feel less safe in the world, well, women have some inside knowledge of what that entails.

Yes, if you want to make a Nazi feel less safe, treat them like you’d treat a woman. Make them feel less important, less respected. Pay them less, talk over them more. (And fewer of those let’s-try-to-understand-them op-eds would be nice.)

And while we’re treating Nazis like women, Friedman suggests treating women like, you know, people.

“A lot of my male friends are really nervous in this whole Me Too movement, so they’re asking me for advice,” she says. “And I tell them, if you’re around a woman and she makes you feel nervous just … picture her clothed. Think of her as your daughter. Or better yet, a person. Treat her as an equal. I know it sounds crazy but then maybe she won’t blog about you on a website no one’s ever heard of.”

Friedman’s calm delivery, and her consistent air of unflappability, are in brilliant contrast to the seriousness of the issues she tackles, from racism to sexual assault. After the election, while discussing her incredible special “American Cunt,” she told The Mary Sue she felt like she was making the move from comedian to a “talking think piece” and it’s easy to see what she means.

If you enjoy her Conan set, Friedman has a new show coming to Adult Swim this week that would likely be up your lane. Titled Soft Focus, the show tackles hard issues with an ostensibly “light touch.” But as you can see above, Friendman’s soft voice and casual nonchalance belie an incisive commentary. The first episode of Soft Focus addresses campus rape and feels much like an especially dark Daily Show segment, which is fitting, since Friedman worked as a producer on that show during Jon Stewart’s tenure.

Soft Focus premiers on Adult Swim February 18th at midnight. You can and should check out “American Cunt” on iTunes.

(image: screencap)

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Author
Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.