Content Warning: Contains ableist language and male-on-female aggression
Not Safe for Work: Contains cursing.
By Professor Corey Lee Wrenn
Jamie Kilstein, comedian and co-host of Citizen Radio, announced that he would be doing an interview with PETA and PETA 2. A feminist questioned him on this, asking why he chooses to collaborate with a notoriously misogynistic organization. He then proceeded to dismiss her and berate her.
Kilstein then reminded readers that he’s discussed PETA’s sexism and fat-shaming on the show. For that matter, PETA has done awesome things for the kids. His dismissive and aggressive reaction insinuates that women who continue to have a problem with his position are demonstrating ignorance and simply don’t understand the wonderful things PETA has done.
PETA promotes violence against women and girls by regularly using pornified images of women and girls to represent either violence against women and girls or violence against animals. How many episodes of his show do we have to listen to before we understand that supporting PETA is consistent with feminism? How many episodes until we find his behavior towards women acceptable?
This is not the first time I’ve gotten an uneasy feeling about Kilstein. He once posted that he found men’s rights advocates (a hate group) “funny.” I replied saying that, as a woman, I didn’t find them very funny at all, but rather quite terrifying. He responded with condescension, gas lighting, and mocking. Like the woman above, and he also told me that I must not listen to his show. Again, he positions feminist criticisms as a matter of ignorance or irrationality.
This man has made a career from feminism, but he approaches honest feminist criticism of his decidedly anti-feminist behavior with abuse and aggression. This behavior is what is referred to as tokenizing. Tokenizing is when men use women’s experiences for their own personal gain while simultaneously doing little to challenge gender oppression. Kilstein makes fun of sexism in his stand-up, then signs on to Twitter after the show and berates women who find it problematic that he collaborates with organizations that routinely hurt women.
When men self-identify as feminists, this is generally the result. Too often, they have little understanding about women’s experiences, and, sometimes, are the very perpetrators women are seeking to escape. Self-identified male feminists generally use this feminist identity to shield their sexist behavior (and there is also a frightening trend in men using feminism to sexually harass and assault women). Read more on why I argue that men cannot be feminist here and how men can be better allies here.
Ms. Wrenn is the founder of Vegan Feminist Network and also operates The Academic Abolitionist Vegan. She is a Lecturer of Sociology with Monmouth University, a part-time Instructor of Sociology and Ph.D. candidate with Colorado State University, council member with the Animals & Society Section of the American Sociological Association, and an advisory board member with the International Network for Social Studies on Vegetarianism and Veganism with the University of Vienna. She was awarded the 2016 Exemplary Diversity Scholar by the University of Michigan’s National Center for Institutional Diversity. She is the author of A Rational Approach to Animal Rights: Extensions in Abolitionist Theory (2015, Palgrave Macmillan).