With a best-selling book titled In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks Adam Carolla is hardly seen as a progressive voice for women. Although currently famous for having the number one podcast on iTunes, Adam Carolla has been around for decades and is known for being the quintessential dude-bro. I’ve heard him make sweeping generalizations about all women on a fairly regular basis. His most infamous, that women aren’t as funny as men, was widely reported and I’m not here to be an Adam Carolla apologist. This is what made the following all the more surprising.
On his April 30th podcast The Adam Carolla Show he was in the process of telling his co-hosts how his seven year old daughter wants to get her ears pierced and how she has an overall preoccupation with being pretty. Adam shared that this is troubling to him because he wants his daughter to feel that there’s more to her and more to her life than her looks. He couldn’t find a solution to the problem though. The following is an excerpt from the show.
“So my daughter, everything about her is about being pretty, being pretty, being pretty. She likes ice skating and she’s smart and she’s very athletic and stuff like that, but all the conversation is just about being pretty, being pretty, being pretty. And it’s like, I don’t want that to be the end all and be all. On the other hand I don’t think the game has changed much in 50 years.”
“I also know we’ve created a society where it’s not acceptable for a woman to go out to work with not a stitch of make-up on and their hair all frizzy and sweatpants…it’s sadly not acceptable…women are spending an hour a day if not more on something other than math or science…You take that chunk of life…the amount of money, energy, and time expended…it’s putting them at a deficit. I wouldn’t call it crippling but it’s not fair.”
He pontificated about possible solutions. He thought that if all women back off the beauty emphasis on an honor system it would be like steroids in athletics. Women would cheat and use (beauty regimens) to get ahead of each other and we’d back to square one.
As a joke he offered possible solution about all chicks rocking the burka here, then they’d be on an even playing field. The problem with that route he says, is that it leads to getting acid dumped on them for daring to read a book.
Adam admitted he didn’t know what the solution and the conversation drifted away to another topic. It was interesting to see Adam Carolla, so eternally sure and confident of himself, admit the Catch-22 that women are hindered by the burden and judgment of their appearance in a way that men aren’t.
In another recent podcast, (The Adam and Dr. Drew show #117) he expands on these ideas even further. To build his daughter up his wife tells her how pretty she is and Adam doesn’t like it.
“My wife is doing the thing that society has taught her to do which is…[telling his daughter] ‘You’re beautiful. You’re beautiful.’ And I just stopped her and said, wrong message…Let’s stop telling all young women you’re beautiful…That shouldn’t be the message. The message should be you’re compelling, you’re smart, you’re interesting, you’re funny…Arguably, in a weird way, being exceptionally beautiful could be a curse. To a young woman starting at age nine or ten and moving all the way through high school, that woman, her job is going to be being hot. She’s never going know her to full potential!
Adam then acknowledged that he and his wife are guilty of treating his son and daughter differently. They emphasize his daughter’s looks and his son’s actions. This worries him about what this is doing in shaping their identity.
“My son, all we do with my son is, ‘oh you’re great at math Sonny, that’s great, maybe one day you’ll be an engineer. You’re great at this and that and we never talk about his physicality. We never talk about what he looks like… …He doesn’t hear anything about what he looks like…it’s neither here nor there…my daughter is already getting sucked into this world where ‘you’re beautiful’.
The conversation then drifted to Lena Dunham, the star and creator of the HBO show Girls. For those that don’t watch the show Lena is considered talented, hilarious, and has received no end of accolades despite the fact that she could be considered plain and a bit overweight by classic TV standards.
“What I want to say is I don’t want to get hold of a 9 year old Lena Dunham and try to explain to her and convince her that she’s beautiful. I want to say to her ‘you’re smart, you have other gifts. And by the way, gifts that are going to keep going into your seventies, whereas the beauty, at some point that’s going to fall off a cliff. So you’re lucky. And the good news is, there’s plenty of dudes out there that will be interested in a smart, funny, successful person with your personality and your gifts.”
I could hardly believe my ears. While I don’t think Adam Carolla should get a ticker tape parade for espousing decent sentiments, I couldn’t help but be somewhat astounded. Considering that The Man Show ended every episode with scantily dressed women bouncing on trampolines as the credits rolled, the previous quotes can be considered somewhat radical.
Adam Carolla has never had to deal with the pressures that society places on women, he had the privilege of being able to ignore them since they never impacted his life. I’ll be curious and interested to hear how his views evolve as his daughter is continues to grow up. He seems to resent and be somewhat frightened of her as being seen as merely ornamental and not as a full human being.
You can’t get much more feminist than that.