Don’t call Kaley Cuoco a feminist.
The “Big Bang Theory” star spoke about equality in an interview with Redbook for the magazine’s February 2015 issue. When asked if she considers herself a feminist, she responded in the negative.
“Is it bad if I say no?” she asked. “It’s not really something I think about. Things are different now, and I know a lot of the work that paved the way for women happened before I was around … I was never that feminist girl demanding equality, but maybe that’s because I’ve never really faced inequality.”
But Cuoco shouldn’t have to clarify anything. She’s 100% right. She isn’t a feminist demanding equality because she has never faced any inequality. She’s a hot blonde who has been in television since she’s 17. As Chris Rock put it, being famous is essentially like being a hot chick. As a hot chick who is famous, Cuoco is basically a double hot chick – meaning she could speed her car in a school zone and crash straight into the school’s cafeteria and still not get a ticket if she cried to the police officer.
The reason Cuoco’s comments draw ire and sneers is because they fly in the face of the tiered privilege system Gawker and Jezebel have tried to create – one where every man has been handed the keys to the corner office at Spacely Sprockets, while women only make 70 cents to the dollar – despite no one actually believing that women actually make 70 cents to the dollar and the fact that younger women in fact out-earn men. But apparently only the priveleged are able to decipher and look at facts and statistics, therefore they don’t matter.
That’s why it’s a sin for Cuoco to say she hasn’t really faced inequality even though she’s a 29 year old who gets paid $1 million per episode to deliver lines other people wrote. That’s not to say she’s a bad actress – it takes real talent for someone as hot as her to act like she’s attracted to Johny Galecki. But it’s hard to drum up self-pity when you make 20 times the average US income for helping produce 22 minutes of television.
Identity politics starts to lose steam when you realize that there really isn’t white privilege or male privilege, because we are all individuals and there a multitude of factors determining how relatively easy or hard our lives are. To admit that good looking women have it easier than ugly men, while an obvious give, would defeat nearly all of Jezebel’s feminist cries.
This problem is best illustrated by an old television clip from ABC’s “What Would You Do?” In it, a hidden camera tracks several people trying to steal a bicycle. First a white man tries to take a chained up bicycle, and while the people passing by our suspicious, many give him the benefit of the doubt before the cops are called. Then a black man repeats the experiment, and the cops are called almost immediately. Finally, a hot blonde attempts to steal a bicycle, and men literally try to help her steal the bicycle.
The lesson here is that while it is obviously difficult in many ways to be a black man, it probably isn’t as difficult as it is awesome to be a hot blonde.
But Cuoco’s statement caused controversy because privilege has taken on this meaning that every single white male should be basking in his good fortune, like the Prize Patrol just showed up at his house with a giant check for “winning life” made out to cash. But in reality, some balding white dude who looks like Steve Buscemi isn’t walking around thinking, “Thank god I don’t look like Tyrese!”
Because while many of us share struggles with recognized groups, the inequality (or lack thereof) we face on a daily basis is unique to us and based on countless factors. Some of us were born beautiful, others get mistaken for Ron Howard’s brother. We may have come from loving families or from broken homes. We may have been blessed with good health or cursed with chronic illness. Some of us got good jobs through connections, while others had to work hard. But it’s important to realize that even the ability and knowledge to work hard is a blessing itself – as many are never taught the value of hard work or didn’t get the gene that makes some humans more driven than others. It’s frightening to think how much had to go right for us, how many different types of “privilege” had to exist, in order for us to succeed.
And that’s why bloggers feel the need to attack people like Cuoco for admitting she has faced little inequality. Because chances are if you have the time and ability to write on the internet for little or no money, then all things considered your life probably has been pretty blessed as well. But in a world where internet street cred’ is determined by comparing micro-aggressions as if they were rap sheets, identity politics is important because it allows writers to talk about how “difficult” it is being a woman in journalism, despite the fact that more women blog than men do. It makes it so that we can all can be angry at our oppressors – even as we bitch about them from the comfort of our air conditioned, east village apartments that our parents help pay for.
Cuoco could have gained praise by answering how difficult it was to be a woman in Hollywood in 2015, but it was refreshing for her to admit that life has treated her pretty fairly thus far. We should all take a step back and do the same.