Editor's note: Welcome to Fresh Meat, in which Portland comic Amy Miller interviews newcomers about their hopes and dreams and the foodstuffs from their native lands that Portland fails to prepare properly. This week Miller talks with the brave Mens' Rights Activist who plans to protest this week's female-focused comedy festival, All Jane No Dick.
Matt âThe Loneâ Woof
This coming weekend, female stand-up comics from all over the country will descend upon Portland, to tell jokes over five days and multiple venues, in the All Jane No Dick Comedy Festival. The brainchild (and pun) of local comic Stacey Hallal, All Jane claims to âbridge the gap between female comedians, audiences and industry decision-makers.â (Disclosure: I am performing in the festival.)
In response, a faceless crusader began covering the festivalâs posters with his own, planning a protest of the event and calling the festivalâs creators the âFeminazi Organization of Oregon.â He warns fellow men that âall dicks will be severed on site.â A photo of his flier was quickly circulated amongst comics via social media, as well as a Craigslist ad placed by a man named âMattâ inviting others to join him in protest of All Jane. Some insisted the fliers were part of a misguided guerilla marketing campaign orchestrated by the festival. The Craigslist ad included a phone number, and after a brief internal conversation with myself about exactly what kind of skinsuit this person might make out of me (Three-piece? Tux? Maybe some lederhosen?) I texted Matt.
Walking into the downtown Whole Foods (very public), I expected to find a warty pile of goblin man whose penis had been burned off by an evil witch, and instead met âMatt,â a very standard-looking Portland dude, complete with a knit beanie and an accidental beard thing. He seemed slightly nervous about the meeting, and I hadnât even brought my dick-severing shears along. (Left them in the car.) He was indeed a real person with real concerns and no affiliation with the festival. In front of him sat the remnants of a small kale salad, one of All Janeâs festival posters, his own flier, and a notebook with a few bullets scrawled out that included âRock ânâ Roll Camp for Girlsââhis hitlist of all-female organizations in town that are chappinâ his hide.
Amy Miller: Iâm really surprised to find out that youâre real. Can you tell me your full name?
Matt: You can call me Matt âThe Loneâ Woof.
Itâs interesting that youâre using a pseudonym to organize a public protest. How did this plan come about?
I was going to do this last year but it was a little late in the game. And I got a little bit of cold feet this year because I took out the ad and didnât get any responses for a couple of days. And I didnât want to be out there without anyone backing me up. Then I thought, how hard is it to just stand out there and hold a sign? This was Plan B. Plan A was just to show up and protest. Then I thought well, Iâll take the passive approach and Ill just create these hardcore posters and thatâll make me feel better.
And do you you feel better?
I think so. Although Iâm a little bit concerned for my safety. You never know. Iâve seen some documentaries about things similar to this, where people needed police protection with them.
Some of us thought at first this was guerilla marketing on the part of the festival. Do you realize how many more people will probably attend the thing you hate based on your protest?
You think so? Well I guess itâs true what they sayâeven bad PR is good PR. How did people find out so fast? I only fliered on Alberta.
Someone took a photo of your flier and posted it on Facebook. Also, you took out an ad on the internet, Matt. Is your flier meant to be humorous?
Of course! To some extent. I mean obviously theyâre not gonna be slicing anyoneâs penis off at the door. Matter of fact, I even thought about wearing a jock strap outside of my pants when I show up to protest, just as a joke.
You may want to consider a codpiece or maybe a full suit of armor. And some of the ladies on the festival are concerned for their safety as well. Do you understand why we would feel threatened?
It seems like men would be more threatened by the severed dicks than women. Donât you think? A woman wouldnât have to worry about that. Where is the threat to the women involved? Iâm most certainly not going to bring anyone along who will even say anything irrational or yell at anyone.
I got some interest from women as well in joining my protest. Thereâs no guarantee that anybodyâs gonna show. Thereâs no guarantee I will. The way you make it sound, if Iâm seen as a threat to peopleâs safety, that could be a serious concern.
Whatâs so offensive to you about the festival?
I think that it says All Jane and then really specifies the âNo Dick.â
Do you get the pun, and the reference to the book series?
I get the pun but I think thereâs an ulterior motive, which is the anti-male connotation. It doesnât seem to be empowering to women, but rather slandering to men. Thereâs a tide going on of that more and more, especially in the Northwest. Itâs creating an environment of new segregation.
Do you think with a different name, or some different branding, that itâs possible to have a comedy festival exclusive to female-identified performers that is not threatening to men?
Well, no. The fact that itâs all female is sexist. Why does it have to be all female? Are there any all-men festivals? If you called it All Dick and No Jane, the feminists would be up in arms.
Are you protesting any other all-female organizations or events?
I might. This is my first time âgrowing a pairâ and stepping out to the limelight and expressing what I feel is a growing problem based on somewhat misrepresented facts put out by the feminist propaganda machine. Hereâs a weird random example. You go to the Country Fair, and they have an all-women meditation area. Why canât men meditate with you? Does a manâs thinking obstruct your aura? Itâs turning into segregation and segregation is not right.
But when youâre talking about an actual meditation group, based on the real and present physical threat that men pose to women on a regular basis, how do you mitigate that risk of danger AND maintain a climate of absolute equality?
I donât recall any women at the fair being assaulted, harassed or threatened.
Statistically there probably were. Most women are harassed in some way every single day.
Yeah well there were probably also some men there that got smacked around by their girlfriends. And some drunk guys whose girlfriends had sex with them while they were unconscious, which is still rape.
Iâm not questioning the existence of female rapists or abusers.
Of all the places, I donât think the Country Fair is the kind of place where men are threatening. Those hippie guys are not threatening. Theyâre totally non-threatening, passive, friendly guys. If weâre talking a subway in New York, OK then. I can understand why if youâre having a meditation area, maybe itâs a good idea to have women only. But at the County Fair, it struck me as odd and offensive. I donât think the kind of guys who are attracted to a meditation area are the kinds of guys who are going to harass women.
And you can always just have someone watching and if someone starts telling some really bad women jokes, they can say âHey, buddy, get outta here. Weâre trying to meditate.â
Do you think the same principle should apply to comedy then? That rather than having the occasional all-female festival, on an ongoing basis we should say, âHey buddy, thereâs no place for your sexist jokes,â or speak out in the moment about feeling marginalized as long as we are all going to perform together?
No, itâs a little bit of a different story with comedy. Because anything goes, otherwise itâs not funny. And sometimes itâs good to laugh at yourself. And if female comedy was nothing but slandering men it would get a little old. But you throw in some dick jokes AND some Jane jokes and now weâre talkin.
How do you feel about Gay Pride parades or Black History Month? What is so bothersome to you about an oppressed or minority group organizing an exclusive event to celebrate who they are in a supportive environment?
I think theyâre great. I would have a problem with them if they were worded differently. Itâs not called âNo whites month.â If it were advertised like that it would be offensive to a lot of people, but itâs not. So if this were called âWomenâs History Comedy Theater Festivalâ this whole thing would be another story.
Thatâs not a very catchy name for a comedy festival. But youâre saying if the name were changed and there were still no men allowed to perform, youâd be more comfortable with it after all?
Yeah. I guess itâs more the name and the presentation. As long as it didnât slander men, I wouldnât be bothered at all. Itâs about principle, really. Iâve seen a lot of anti-male segregation happening. Youâll see âAll womenâs workout gym,â and there are coffee roasters that only hire women to pick beans because they feel women pick a better bean. To me thatâs not so much empowering as it is segregating. I felt like, and I could be wrong, this festival was an example of that kind of segregation.
Youâve admitted to not being a comedy fan or a consumer of comedy. According to the All Jane website, fewer than 19 percent of all stand-up comics are women. At the top tier of comics, itâs probably closer to 5 percent. Weâre working in an extremely male-dominated industry. In that case, can you understand the motivation to organize an all female comedy festival?
Are you saying that comedy festivals and comedy clubs, that some of them just donât want women doing comedy? Can you mention a comedy club that discriminates against women?
I could, but I want to work in them. So, no. But they exist.
Well thatâs sexist and thatâs wrong and I would be down to protest that fact too, right alongside you. Itâs sexism that Iâm against. But I really doubt people have any problem with women. People will laugh at a man just as fast as theyâll laugh at a woman. Itâs just as good for business.
I have some hilarious female friends. I donât even think about the gender of a comedian Iâm watching. Itâs like a grocery checker. I donât care if theyâre a man or a woman. Even though most checkers in this town are women.
I find it hard to believe that women are being discriminated against in comedy. Why would they be? Whatâs the money in it? Who wants to have all men on a show? That doesnât make any sense.
You are preaching to the choir, son.
Well if that IS the case, then I can understand the angst in this event and branding it the way it is. But I still donât think itâs being presented right.
You take such offense to the tone, name, and exclusivity of the festival, but your flier is so totally over the top and completely anti-women.
How is it anti-women? Because I say âFeminazi?â Iâd say thatâs more anti-neo-feminism. What is called feminism today has taken a turn maybe in the past ten years. I look at a lot of magazines, and one had a cover recently called âThe End of Menâ and the Atlantic, another feminist-oriented magazine, was all about men this and men that and it wasnât about empowering women at all. Itâs just about men having depression, and not seeking help, and there was a story about another guy who got bullied as a child. And all this does is create an environment of hate, especially in impressionable young minds. And now girls feel like if they donât go to an all-girl summer camp, or join an all-girl rock band, or an all-girl play, then theyâre going to be in danger.
But we arenât trying to ban men from comedy all together. Male comics are our friends. The majority of them are not posing a physical or even social threat to us. But what is wrong with having one weekend thatâs only for us?
Donât you think weâre way past this extreme reaction phase? Weâre teaching young women they should be segregated from men. Iâm not saying what happened 30, 40, 50 years ago was good but women being born today are being born in a different environment. And for you to be resentful about the past and feed into this sense that men are a threat? Women can be a threat too.
Iâm not anti-feminism. What I really am is I guess you could call me a Menâs Rights Activist. Does that make sense? Is that a thing?
Oh yes thatâs a thing. You are not alone. Not sure if youâve Googled that phrase yet.
Well I bet Iâm the first outspoken one in Portland. Which makes me kind of brave if you think about it.