Iliza Shlesinger’s Comedy Show Drama and Other Times Men Protested Sexism
Over a month ago, comedian Iliza Shlesinger (NBC’s Last Comic Standing, Truth & Iliza) and the venue the Largo at the Coronet in Los Angeles turned away two men at the door of Shlesinger’s female-only comedy show. Recently, news broke that one of the men is suing on the grounds of discrimination.
This example of declared sexism is rare and, during a time plagued by multiple headlines about sexual misconduct, should be questioned. In what instances have men felt discriminated against, and what have they done about it (page 6)?
Comedian Iliza Shlesinger hosted “Girls Night In with Iliza — No Boys Allowed,” an event promoting women performers to an all-female audience. George St. George and his male friend bought tickets online and attempted to attend, despite the event’s claims.
When St. George and his friend picked up their tickets at Will Call, the female employee reportedly told them they could attend but would need to sit in the back because of their gender. After they grabbed dinner and returned, the same employee said that after speaking with Shlesinger and the theater, they wouldn’t be allowed to view the show and would receive a refund for their tickets.
The men are suing Shlesinger
The lawsuit states that Shlesinger’s show, “Girls Night In With Iliza — No Boys Allowed,” caused “discontent, animosity, harm, resentment, or envy among the sexes,” and “… constituted a willful and malicious injury to Plaintiff.” The lawsuit goes on to point out that California prohibits businesses “from treating patrons unequally based on their sex.”
St. George is seeking an injunction barring defendants from engaging in unequal treatment of consumers based on sex, an order requiring them to undergo sex discrimination sensitivity training and statutory damages. None of the defendants — Shlesinger, United Talent Agency (UTA), and Largo at The Coronet, have responded to a request for comment by The Hollywood Reporter on the lawsuit.
Here’s how the media is reacting
The Hollywood Reporter dubbed the lawsuit “hyperbole-laden” and notes how the suit likens the show to a kind of “old-fashioned sexism.” The lawsuit makes one powerful claim, in particular, calling what happened to St. George and his friend as “best … described as being akin to the Montgomery City Lines bus company in Montgomery, Alabama circa 1955 morphing into the Woolworth’s Department Store lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1960,” effectively comparing his experience to the Civil Rights struggle of black people in the United States.
One important thing to note …
Well, two. First of all, according to Variety, St. George has been the plaintiff in multiple suits, like his against Shlesinger, which challenge “ladies nights” at bars and otherwise public establishments.
His attorney, Alfred Rava, has arguably built a career suing companies for gender discrimination. He previously told CNN that he had filed 150 complaints accusing California businesses of violating the Unruh Civil Rights Act of 1959. “At no time should an entertainer of an entertainment venue require female patrons or male patrons to sit in the back of the theater based solely on their sex,” Rava said via email.
There have been plenty other recent complaints of sexism by men
NPR’s Edward Schumacher-Matos reported years ago of complaints from male listeners regarding casualty breakdowns that presented female fatalities in a controversial way, almost as if they were more devastating than male casualties. “I had been receiving complaints from other male listeners about what they see as anti-male sexism in general on NPR and in all the mainstream news media,” he wrote.
He went on to reference the San Diego-based advocacy group called the National Coalition for Men, for which Rava used to be secretary. The coalition’s website highlights false rape accusations and the “myth” that men do not do their fair share of housework. They have also commented on what they refer to as “the current sexual abuse hysteria.”
A recent male protest in Europe focused on similar issues
Last June, a group of boys at a private academy in England protested their school’s pant-only dress code. The students asked if the academy would modify the dress code to include appropriate shorts in the summertime, as girls could wear skirts. “We’re not allowed to wear shorts, and I’m not sitting in trousers all day, it’s a bit hot,” one of the protesters told the BBC.
The boys took matters into their own hands and borrowed the girls’ uniform, which includes the option to wear pants or a skirt. They showed up to school in the latter, but unfortunately, their head teacher did not concede at the time. “Shorts are not currently part of our uniform for boys,” Aimee Mitchell said. A parent of one of the students expressed how proud she was of the boys. “People are always talking about equal rights for males and females and school uniform shouldn’t be any different,” Claire Reeves said.
So, what’s next for the Shlesinger case?
On the Largo website, Shlesinger’s show, “Girls Night In,” is described as “a hybrid stand up show and interactive discussion between Shlesinger and the female audience. It aims to give women a supportive and inclusive environment. “She invites women of all walks of life to come, laugh with her and at her and be ready to share and feel safe for an awesome night of comedy and love.”
Many publications, including Rolling Stone, The Hollywood Reporter, and Variety, said that Shlesinger’s representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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