Chelsea Handler is calling for equality in a new op-ed piece for the Huffington Post, after an article about late night television sought to diminish her accomplishments by positing that she is successful “for a woman.”
Handler has hosted her late night talk show program, “Chelsea Lately,” for several years on the E! Network, and is currently the only woman on television with a successful late night program. But according to Handler, the fact that she is a woman shouldn’t be the focus of critics’ praise–her show should speak for itself, regardless of its host’s gender.
Handler was referenced in a New York Times piece about Jimmy Fallon’s recent takeover of “The Tonight Show.”
“I obviously didn’t expect or want to be a focal point of the piece,” Handler writes, “and I really just appreciated the photo of me at the top of the article placed alongside my late night contemporaries that featured my new haircut — the feedback has been overwhelming. What bothered me was that when I was listed in a paragraph with the late-night hosts, I was the only name put in parentheses. Mr. Carter wrote,'(The only female host in late-night is Chelsea Handler, 38, on E!).'”
Handler’s issue was with the fact that she was only mentioned parenthetically. To her, that meant that her achievements were marginalized because of her gender and her success in a traditionally-male sector of entertainment.
“The particular paragraph I was mentioned in was about the competition Jimmy faces for younger viewers. Depending upon whose research you look at, I share the distinction of having the youngest average viewership with Colbert, The Daily Show and Conan. So from a purely statistical standpoint how, in this paragraph, could I only be mentioned as an aside? Was it because I’m a woman?”
And Handler isn’t only concerned with being marginzalized because she’s a woman–she also doesn’t want to be praised merely for her “unusual” success:
“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.”
Right on, Chelsea!
J-Connection: Chelsea Handler is Jewish on her father’s side.