Originally published: 04.02.15
The spaces that women can occupy are small and easily shrunk. For example, talk to a female comic and she’s likely to tell you that her job is substantially harder for being female.
Promoters are reluctant to book female comedians, because they assume audiences will be sexist and stay away (or because they impute their own sexism to the audience); audiences heckle more viciously and more explicitly, because a woman talking is still an offence against what women are supposed to be; and touring is essentially incompatible with the constant work expected of a mother, which means female comics with children have to negotiate career breaks and long absences from home in a way that male comics can generally avoid. TV panel shows are boys’ clubs – there have been some moves to improve the balance, but the default is still to book a single woman at best and then let the men talk over her – which means women comedians struggle to get the kind of recognition that shifts tickets.