Now and then I watch the popular, some say feminist, some say b%$#ch fest, TV show, The View. It was launched in 1997 by the American broadcaster and journalist, Barbara Walters. Co-hosts included Meredith Vieira, Star Jones, Debbie Matenopoulos, and Joy Behar. Only Joy Behar, a feminist, comedian, writer, actor, and resilient woman remains.
Behar interests me for a number of reasons. She models some of the characteristics I am still developing. Yes, a woman in her seventies can continue to learn, develop and grow. Before I launch into my Joy Behar insights here is some background information.
Joy Behar’s Background
Behar was born in 1942, which makes her four years older than me, and a good-fit role model. She grew up as an only child with working class, Italian parents. Behar is divorced and remarried, has a daughter and a grandson. After a short career as an English teacher, Behar entered show business. She was a producer of Good Morning America, appeared in The Vagina Monologues, has been a comedy club stand-up comedian, and had minor roles in a number of movies.
In addition to The View, she has been featured in The Joy Behar Show and then Late Night Joy. She has a compilation of her humorous quips in Joy Shtick — Or What is the Existential Vacuum and Does It Come with Attachments? and recently a book, which I have mixed feelings about reading, The Great Gasbag: An A-Z Study Guide to Surviving Trump World.
Here is what is noteworthy of Behar’s strengths and behaviours:
Joy Behar demonstrates courageous honesty:
She shares her truth and this often rouses controversy. I have too often stayed silent when my ethical voice wanted to yell out. I want the guts to interrupt and scream, “I don’t like that!” or “That’s not ok! That’s crazy!” Behar does and she makes it clear what she likes and dislikes. Here are some of her statements:
- “I don’t want to see a movie showing Sally Hemings in love with Thomas Jefferson. I just don’t buy it! She was his slave. She has children with him. I saw a movie; I think it was with Nick Nolte. It made it look like she was into him. He was old. She was young. She was a slave. He was the president. No! Don’t depict it like she was into it. That annoys me.”
- “Someone came up to me after I attacked Sarah Palin and said, ‘I hate you!’ and I said, ‘F %&$#?@!’ . . . I’m not proud of it but I did it.”
- “(Rapping song lyrics) ‘The way you grab me. Must wanna get nasty. Go ahead, get at me. You know you want it.’ I don’t like that song!”
- “When I was young and I was a virgin I wanted to make it (sex) special. It wasn’t that friggin’ special!”
- “It’s a completely useless emotion, jealousy. I don’t go there.”
Joy Behar demonstrates assertiveness:
At one time I taught women assertiveness training, helping them move to assertive rather than aggressive, passive or passive/aggressive behaviour. My style tends to be more passive–tentative and gentle. Yet, there are times I’d like to be more challenging in my approach. One of the other hosts said about Behar, “She carries a bold lip” as in:
- “What’s a white lie? You look thin in that tie?”
- “I believe the poorest people in the world should be taken care of. . . If that is a democratic socialist, that’s what I am.”
- “I like it when politicians are on the show. I particularly like it when I disagree with them.”
Joy Behar demonstrates a feminist perspective:
I consider myself a feminist and have written about why I am comfortable with the label. I’d probably faint if I was given a tribute, as Behar did, by the feminist icon, Gloria Steinem, who said, “Joy has certainly moved the needle on feminism by being herself, by being on camera, by representing honesty.” Here are some examples:
- “I remember in my early twenties, when I had nothing going on. You know, I was just married. I’d have a little job or something. Those years went by fast because there was nothing in the day. The secret to aging, I think, and being happy is, you fill the days up with a lot of stuff. Well, with what you love. Then you’re ok!”
- When Fox News journalist, Bill O’Reilly was a guest on The View, she left the stage. Later she described the incident, “I suddenly felt my body rising from my chair. It was like, not a conscious thing. ‘I can’t sit here!’ I said, ‘Come on, Whoopy’ and she followed me and we left.” Later sexual harassment scandals surfaced about O’Reilly.
- “My feet are stunning!” Yes, I see this as a feminist statement, especially with the amount of body shaming women experience.
Joy Behar demonstrates spontaneous humor:
While I have taken workshops on stand up comedy and crafted a few jokes, I’d like to respond more often with funny. Behar is a master at this:
- “I want a man in my life, not in my house.”
- “The male rhino has 30 days of foreplay. So, that’s my kind of animal.”
- “I’m probably the oldest person in the room. Oh! Maybe not. (Pointing at a man in the audience) I see a guy there.”
- “You want to get married when you’re old so you have someone there to step on the air hose during an emergency.”
Joy Behar demonstrates being human, making mistakes, and apologizing:
Behar’s bold lip sometimes gets her in trouble. It’s powerful to use humor and often risky. I tell a story of when my marriage’s sex drive had gone flat, I picked my hubby up at the airport dressed like a hooker. One audience member wrote me a four-page letter telling me how I had triggered the deep pain of her husband leaving her for a prostitute. Regrettably, the woman who wrote the letter did not sign it so I could not have a discussion with her. I probably would not have apologized because I did not make her a target of my funny. I made my hubby and myself the targets. I still tell it.
If you are going to be spontaneous and/or funny you will offend someone. But in Behar’s case, she did target some individuals and she did apologize.
- She carelessly made a critical comment about Miss Colorado, Kelly Johnson, wearing a stethoscope and nurse’s scrubs in the 2015 Miss America pageant. Behar later apologized by saying, “I was just stupid. I didn’t know what the hell I was talking about.”
Note: Johnson’s choice for the talent part of the contest was brave, authentic and unusual. She wore her nursing garb and told a story about one of her patients living with Alzheimer’s. She demonstrated a strong example of a woman in her power, acting authentically in a competition that traditionally has rejected women who do not meet stereotypical beauty standards and has reinforced women appreciated only as pretty objects. Times are changing.
- Another time, in reference to Vice President Mike Pence, she blurted “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus, it’s another thing when Jesus talks to you. That’s called mental illness, if I’m not correct, hearing voices.” Her apology included, “I think Vice President Pence is right; I was raised to respect everyone’s religious faith, and I fell short of that. I sincerely apologize for what I said.”
If you become curious and want to learn more about Behar, as I did, consider looking at Joy Behar’s Funniest Moments on The View.
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Patricia Morgan MA CCC helps her readers, clients, and audiences lighten their load, brighten their outlook, and strengthen their resilience. To go from woe to WOW call 403.242.7796 or email a request.