You're smart, for a girl.

Last week Jimmy Fallon made his Tonight Show debut. While it was a major accomplishment for the young comedian, his new role highlighted the current gender disparity of the comedic stage.No better fit to highlight the gap is Chelsea Handler. Her response follows an article written in the New York Times that discussed Fallon's new gig. After writing about the male comedians, Handler's bio was placed in parentheses, qualifying her host job as the only female of late night. She pointedly responds here:"I wanted to confirm what a parenthetical suggests, so I looked up the definition. The first few definitions that came up were: incidental, subordinate in significance, minor or casual, and just as I don't want to be inconsequential in any late-night discourse, I also don't want to be singled-out and lauded merely because I am successful "for a woman." I only want to be acknowledged for having worked hard to build an equally significant audience and fan base to those of my peers. I believe the success of any woman should never be qualified by her gender."While acknowledgement of her success was placed in parentheses with her gender, the common gender qualification often takes form as a backwards compliment. In a way that I'm sure many can relate to as:  "You speak well...for a woman." or "You're strong...for a girl." The statements are used as a way to separate that person from the other individuals who stereo-typically uphold that achievement.When we qualify greatness by attaching someone's gender to the statement, we aren't acknowledging their achievements in true light. Instead, we are reinforcing the stereotypes that suggest that one cannot be great unless you meet a certain set of standards. For example, what does it mean to be a successful late night comedian? Is it viewership or years of tenure? If one meets these criteria successfully, is it necessary to add in their gender when discussing their achievements? The answer is no, yet society commonly makes these qualifications that subsequently make women appear secondary or "incidental", as Handler describes.With further examination using a feminist lens, we can see there are a subset of standards that society tells us are needed in order to truly be successful within specific arenas. Maybe it's a woman in the science field, or a man in the elementary classroom, but these subtle statements amplify a larger belief system about what gender belongs where. In Chelsea Handler's case, to be considered a great comedian, one must also be male.The qualifications we make for identities don't merely affect women, but men and all other forms of identity. You can be a great teacher, for a guy. Or you can be good with kids, for a guy. All desirable and normal qualities to possess and gender is unnecessarily added in when discussing that person's success.When we expose the fake standards set by society, we can find ourselves supporting our own accomplishments and those of others - whatever the gender may be. Thanks, Chelsea, for the reminder of what we all are trying to do: be great individuals, regardless of our gender.Original post on Talk Less, Say More...more

Feeling Beautiful in a "Too" Society

If you watch TV, chances are you've seen or at least heard of the show "The Biggest Loser." The reality TV show features individuals competing to lose massive amounts of weight. The winner walks away much thinner and also much richer....more