Over the weekend, comedian Michelle Wolf made headlines for her controversial and "vulgar" roast at the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner. She garnered the most criticism for her comments about the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Wolf said of Sanders, "We are graced with Sarah’s presence tonight. I have to say I’m a little star-struck. I love you as Aunt Lydia in 'The Handmaid’s Tale'. … I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful. She burns facts, and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Like maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies. It’s probably lies."
Some people took this as a critique of Sanders' appearance. I can understand that perspective. There was uproar and outrage that Wolf, a feminist, would dare to criticize another woman for something as petty as her appearance. This has simply become off-limits territory.
However, the press seems to be ignoring the bigger issue. We have come to the point in American society where it is absolutely taboo to criticize a woman's appearance publicly, in any way, without severe backlash from various women's rights groups and the media. It is unthinkable and offensive and sexist.
But what of the men whose physical appearances are the constant butt of jokes? Wolf herself made scathing comments about Mitch McConnell and Chris Christie's appearance, but no one seems to be talking about that. What of the constant criticizing in the late-night circuit of President Trump's weight and appearance? What of the constant jokes about his skin color and hair?
If these jokes were being made about Hillary Clinton, those comedians would have been skewered and fired.
We have two choices. We can either live in a world where we all lighten up and take a joke as a joke, including those about body and appearance, regardless of gender. Or we stop the constant barrage of attacks on the physical appearance of men who are in the public eye. It simply makes no sense to tolerate a society where men can be raked over the coals for their appearance but women cannot.
The double standard needs to end.
(Emilie Pryor lives in in Olean.)