During the interview which aired last week, Hughley spoke openly about his new book, I Want You to Shut the F#ck Up: How the Audacity of Dopes Is Ruining America, his upcoming comedy special, and his views about politics. But it was his views on women, and specifically black women, that really caught my attention.
Although Hughley’s been married for 26 years and has two daughters, he admitted to Martin that he doesn’t really like women.
MARTIN: Speaking of saying what you mean, I’m just going to read – and as I’ve said, that the book is wide-ranging. It talks about your personal history. It talks a lot about politics and your rise, and exactly how you kind of got where you are. And you don’t pull any punches on yourself. I do want to say that, at least from what I can see, not knowing you personally.
But let me just read from one of the reviews, OK? This is from Kirkus. Although he almost always finds a nuanced angle in presenting his outspoken opinions, it’s sometimes difficult to know where comedic provocation ends and deadly earnestness begins. Yet his views on marriage, women and kids seem strangely unhinged and harsh compared to the cool approach that makes the book so appealing throughout. For example, I’m reading from Chapter 17. Being a dad to daughters is very different from being a dad to sons. The dangers are different and the way they listen to you is different. I’m sure every father feels the same way that I do about his daughters. I love them, but I don’t like them. Who likes women?
HUGHLEY: Really, darling. Really.
MARTIN: You don’t like women?
HUGHLEY: I don’t like the way they process – no, I don’t. I enjoy their company. I do not like the way that they reason. You can’t understand them.
MARTIN: Well, for a man who has been married for 26 years and has two daughters – you have three children overall, two daughters and a son – you don’t think you’ve figured it out?
HUGHLEY: Do you think any man has figured it out? Anyone? Anyone? Name me a man who says I’ve figured women out, I got it.
My daughters, who I love immensely, are so certain, like if a man can have a face only a mother can love, then women can have personalities only fathers can love.
MARTIN: OK. That’s fine. But I have to ask you, though, and throughout the book, though, you do make some impassioned discussions about just how cheap you feel black life is viewed in this country.
HUGHLEY: It is viewed.
MARTIN: OK. But then to go on and in many parts of the book have some very harsh things to say about black women – African-American women.
HUGHLEY: Like what do you think is harsh?
MARTIN: I have to ask, you don’t think that’s a contradiction? Well, this argument that you’re saying that….
HUGHLEY: I don’t – I think my life has been a contradiction.
MARTIN: …black women is – the only black woman you could be married to is your wife.
MARTIN: …black women are so messed up? I mean what – or because she’s so great?
I mean I’m sure she’s great but…
HUGHLEY: Well, in her ability to kind of tolerate my – it’s her ability to tolerate me, A) and B) I’ve never met an angrier group of people. Like black women are angry just in general. Angry all the time. My assessment, out of, just in my judgment, you either are in charge or they’re in charge, so there’s no kind of day that you get to rest(ph).
MARTIN: I have to ask whether is it because black women are an easy target?
MARTIN: And so you can say these things because nobody is going to…
HUGHLEY: Do you think black women are an easy target?
MARTIN: Well, I mean I’m thinking you or – one of the ways you came to public attention is your defense of Don Imus for calling the Rutgers women’s basketball team nappy headed ho’s…
MARTIN: …and I understand that your defense was free speech, which I think many people understand. But if you think he’d said that about another group of women, that that would’ve been considered funny?
HUGHLEY: I can’t, really, that’s like, I can’t disprove or prove a negative, but I can say this: that I have defended any number, I have defended Michael Richards for the N-word. I’ve defended Tracy Morgan for his comments. I defended Rush Limbaugh. You know, to me, you know, what people are talking about has never really kind of worked its way into my mindset. It is the idea that they have the right to say it. So I think that’s really kind of an unfair – optically, that looks different than the way I see things. But…
HUGHLEY: …I don’t think black women are easy targets at all. I respect them great – a great deal. I think that to pretend like I don’t see things the way that I do is to do a disservice to them.
(Listen to the interview & read the longer transcript on the NPR site).
I tried to view Hughley’s words without atomically getting angry. With so many negative views and messages hurled toward black women it’s a little hard to NOT get defensive. But I tried.
While Hughley’s words will definitely inflame some women, what troubled me most was the fact that he continued to pedal the notion that women are “unknowable,” that we are some rare creature that defies logic or comprehension. This type of thinking makes it easy for some men to not only be abusive—because how can you rationalize with them—but also prevents both men and women from communicating effectively.
Look, people are complex. And despite his assertions that women are somehow beyond understanding and reason, the same can be said for a man who–although he was raised by a woman, is married to a woman, and has two daughters–still doesn’t like women.