“This would not happen if I had a penis!”

The Emmy nominations were announced today (by BridesmaidsMelissa McCarthy, who was also nominated, and seems to be having quite the year!). I was thrilled to see that Amy Poehler was nominated for her work on Parks and Rec, where she plays an unabashed feminist by the name of Leslie Knope. When asked about her inspiration for the character, Poehler has described her as “part Girl Scout, part pioneer,” and said that Knope has “a very suffragette spirit.”

It’s also exciting to see Poehler nominated alongside Tina Fey, her close friend, former colleague on Saturday Night Live and fellow feminist comedy lady person. One of the greatest things about Fey’s book, Bossypants, is the way she writes about Poehler, which is with enormous respect and affection. One chapter is called “One in a Series of Love Letters to Amy Poehler.” In one scene in that chapter, Fey recalls a day when she, Poehler, and a bunch of other performers were in the SNL writer’s room and Poehler was joking around.

Amy was in the middle of some such nonsense with Seth Meyers across the table, and she did something vulgar as a joke. I can’t remember what it was exactly, except it was dirty and loud and ‘unladylike.’

Jimmy Fallon, who was arguably the star of the show at the time, turned to her and in a faux-squeamish voice said, ‘Stop that! It’s not cute! I don’t like it.’ Amy dropped what she was doing, went black in the eyes for a second, and wheeled around on him. ‘I don’t fucking care if you like it.’ Jimmy was visibly startled. Amy went right back to enjoying her ridiculous bit. I should make it clear that Jimmy and Amy are very good friends and there was never any real beef between them. (Insert penis joke here.)

With that exchange, a comic shift took place. Amy made it clear that she wasn’t there to be cute. She wasn’t there to play wives and girlfriends in the boys’ scenes. She was there to do what she wanted to do and she did not fucking care if you like it.

Fey writes that she remembers thinking, at that moment, “My friend is here, my friend is here!”

And now, both those friends are on the list of nominees for Best Actress in a Comedy Series. Congratulations to Poehler (congrats to Fey too, but let’s be real, that lady has plenty of Emmys already). And now, here’s one of my favorite Leslie Knope moments, in which she mercilessly mocks sexism by running through a litany of gendered excuses for why she accidentally shot someone in the head.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at chloesangyal.com

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/tamanosou/ Ariadne

    women have tunnel vision? I’ve not heard that one before. I thought we were good at multitasking. Guess all that neurology that I was doing a few years before was totally wrong. I must have been mistaken ’cause I’m bad at math. Yeah … I really should stop with the fast trigometric calculations when I’m working ’cause I might get distracted by my lady bits.

    Seriously, what’s with all the contradictions in sexism? If women are more carnal than men then why are we always supposed to excuse male rapists because they’re just “wired that way”? Shouldn’t those manly men be able to logically control themselves. I’m confused. But that’s okay … because I’m a woman.

    • fyoumudflaps

      Best comment ever.

  • http://feministing.com/members/cmastrovich/ Carolyn

    Damn Hulu videos are blocked in New Zealand :(

  • http://feministing.com/members/emfem/ Emily H

    I love Parks and Recreation. I love Leslie Knope. She is my new role model, for real. Her optimistic, hard-working spirit is so admirable. That’s my personality too, but she reminds me to strive for it always! I don’t think I’ll ever pull all-nighters reading massive volumes of documents or crafting individual shirts for everyone in my department, but Leslie reminds me to do my best! Yes, this is a little silly, but there are much worse role models than Leslie Knope.
    This show is hilarious. If you haven’t checked it out I highly recommend it. Other members of the cast are a big mess of awesomeness too…especially Tom Haverford and Andy Dwier. Love. Love. Love.

  • http://feministing.com/members/elliottmarshal/ Elliott

    As wonderful as some of Amy Poehler’s work in the name of women has been, she has a really terrible track record when it comes to indigenous peoples. This blog post outlines it pretty well:


    I, personally, am getting pretty tired of this “ironic” racism in comedy. It’s not empowering, it’s not respectful, and at the bottom line, it’s not funny.