This Louisiana Lawmaker Comment About Strippers Is Sexist, Ageist, And Body-Shaming All At Once
Louisiana State Representative Kenny Havard took it upon himself to crack a tasteless joke during a debate over a bill requiring dancers at strip clubs to be at least 21 years old instead of current minimum of 18. The “joke” was that in addition to this proposed age regulation, the dancers should be “be younger than 29 and thinner than 161 pounds.”LOL! Don’t quit your day job, Havard.
The worst part is that he actually got a laugh. While fellow female representatives were obviously upset and offended by such a derogatory and degrading comment, many of the other male representatives present were full on laughing at this idiotic, sexist attempt at a joke.
Here’s a video of this guy’s garbage “joke” actually getting a laugh via The Advocate.
Rep. Nancy Landry immediately steps up and calls him out on his bullshit.
“Are you saying that women over 28 or over a certain weight are unfit to be dancers or strippers?”
After all the childlike and frankly immature “ooohs” fade away, Havard smugly replies.
“No ma’am, I’m just worried about their health, and I wouldn’t want them to hurt one another.”
This gets another laugh from those in attendance. As a feminist, I find this infuriating. Also as a comedian, I find this infuriating. This sort of behavior and these sort of jokes should no longer be practiced, let alone encouraged. These “jokesters” have taken this “bit” so far as to include props.
The only thing worse than prop comics, are prop state representatives.
A minute and 31 seconds into the video, my sanity and faith in humanity is thankfully restored. Rep. Julie Stokes takes the floor and says,
“Looking over this body, I’ve never been more repulsed to be a part of it. I refuse the spirit of everything that I’ve heard. I just can’t even believe the behavior in here.
We need to call an end to this. I hear derogatory comments about women in this place regularly. I hear and see women getting treated differently than men, and you know what, you gave me a perfect forum to talk about it.”
Let’s hope the conservation doesn’t end there, but it’s a start. At least these vile comments were immediately addressed and challenged.
Ariel Elias, a comedian from New Orleans, wrote an open letter on Facebook to Havard addressing his “joke.” Like most open letters, it is rambling and long and full of good points. Unlike most open letters, which never leave Facebook, she made the wise decision to email it to him directly.
“I would hate to speak for you against your will as if you have no voice. I mean, what are you, a woman? LOL. Here’s why this amendment was so funny. For one, the original proposal was about mandating that strippers be 21 years of age. The idea is that this will somehow curb the human trafficking of minors, since strip clubs have been known to target vulnerable orphaned teenagers who have aged out of the foster care system.
It’s flawed reasoning, to be sure, because it’s only targeting a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. What would a more serious, humorless senator have done instead? Perhaps introduce legislation that provides more resources for 18 year olds who have been in the system rather than kicking them out into the world without any skills. Make education more attainable by subsidizing tuition. Set aside funding for more job fairs that target kids who have been in the system. Start a scholarship fund as a private citizen for “troubled youth,” as we call them. In general, send some sort of message to 18 year old women that they are valued members of society and stripping should be a choice, not a last resort. Um, boring! Your choice to do nothing productive, to ignore the root of a problem and to waste tax payer money by introducing your amendment shows perfect comedic timing. That’s really hard!”
His email [email protected] if you also feel inclined to drop him a note.