Maybe Chelsea Handler’s Video About Being Childless Is Cringe, But the Call for Her to Stay Barefoot and Pregnant Instead Is Worse
Chelsea Handler may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if she can inspire a 10-minute rant from Ben Shapiro about Family Values™ and cause a cacophony of crying outrage from Conservative Twitter over a video about being childfree, then she must be doing something right.
Handler wrapped up her guest-hosting stint on The Daily Show last week as one of the many hopefuls vying for the prestigious first chair of the legendary late-night program. She closed out her audition with a quick short about the lifestyle of a single, childfree woman — and the reaction by Shapiro and his conservative contemporaries was one of complete contempt for the idea that a woman would enjoy her life while being anything besides a baby factory.
The Daily Show sketch didn’t exactly break new ground from a comedic or content perspective with Handler’s rehashing of “childfree” tropes to exaggerated extremes, but she did manage to elevate the simple premise to the point where the video flew right over the heads of Shapiro and his buddies who are probably working tirelessly to find the man who allowed Handler to handle a camera and bring him to justice.
Handler’s video was a pretty tame summation of the boasts and brags that the “childfree” community have been making about their unencumbered lifestyle since the invention of tubal ligation — Handler merely heightened the bit to hyperbolic extremes in which she comically claimed that the time she saved by not having kids allowed her to discover time travel and kill Adolf Hitler. The reaction by Shapiro and those like him betrays the fact that they couldn’t get through the first 10 seconds of a woman not conforming to their preferred gender roles without furiously tweeting their disapproval.
In a video released by Shapiro titled “Chelsea Handler Is the Saddest Woman in the World,” the conservative mouthpiece railed against Handler for her promotion of a childfree lifestyle. The failed screenwriter who believes that misdirection in a mystery film is bad because “we’re actively deceived by the writer” also failed to grasp the extremely simple “game” of the sketch Handler filmed. Shapiro claims that Handler is clearly miserable because of her lack of children and calls her out for not actually doing many of the activities listed in her absurd comedy sketch on a daily basis — if we thought that Handler was earnestly claiming to have invented teleportation in a silly comedy video, then maybe we’d have a show on The Daily Wire.
“This lady is miserable,” Shapiro said of the smiling Handler. “It’s written all over her face how miserable she is because she doesn’t have kids.” Shapiro went on to espouse the benefits and virtues of raising a family while criticizing Handler for getting high and masturbating in the morning, as if the latter doesn’t sound orders of magnitude more fun than the former. Shapiro lists all the outrageous things that Handler does in the video before snarkily pointing out that she didn’t actually summit Everest as if it was some sort of “gotcha” and not the result of a baseline understanding of storytelling.
The reaction on Twitter was even more personal than Shapiro’s attacks — one user replied, “Chelsea is a prime example of the poisonous effect new age feminism has on women.” Many men accused Handler of “crying herself to sleep alone every night” because she doesn’t have children to tuck in and a husband to cook for, while one king of comedy tweeted a picture of an empty egg container. All of them repeated the ridiculous and misogynistic claims championed by Shapiro and his ilk that no woman could possibly find happiness except in a nuclear family structure in which she raises her husband’s kids and exists as an extension of him.
Whether or not the joke in Handler’s video is funny is subjective, but anyone who had the attention span to watch all 82 seconds of the sketch would recognize that Handler isn’t honestly claiming that not having kids makes her either a superhero or better than anyone who has them — the video is a silly celebration of Handler’s own freedom and her personal decision not to start a family. The idea that a woman could be a multi-millionaire TV star and attain personal happiness without getting knocked up by some bitter, sweaty nerd like Shapiro is so personally offensive to those types that they can’t help but repeat the same sexist attacks about Handler’s anatomy and her “old maid” status that have been hurled at childless women who dared to attain career success for decades.
In reality, childlessness does not guarantee happiness for Handler or any woman, but it couldn’t be any more miserable for them than being married to Ben Shapiro.