While there are currently no women hosting late night comedy and variety shows, the male hosts are aware of these limitations and even appear to feel guilty, and want to do their best to celebrate women and give them opportunities on their shows. Stephen Colbert wrote an amazing feminist essay in Glamour, in which he pledges to "create a Late Show that not only appeals to women but also celebrates their voices."
"It has been pointed out to me that I, like other late-night TV hosts, am a man. And while I'm happy to have a job, I am surprised that the world of late-night TV lacks a female presence, unlike sitcoms, which are packed with smoking-hot wives who teach their doughy husband a valuable lesson when he slips on a pizza and falls headfirst into a porta-potty full of beer. Check your local listings," he jokes, both calling out the misogyny in the lack of female shows, and the misogyny on the shows that exist now with females. Colbert gets meta at the end, proclaiming, "Female viewers need more than a pretty face. They need someone who will represent their voice. And I think this essay has proved that I have an authentic female perspective, because most of it was written by two female writers on my staff."
Colbert's promise is another exciting moment in his years of feminist allyship. Here are his best moments from The Colbert Report.
1. On Thigh Gaps and Impossible Beauty Standards
"Young girls are obsessed with having thigh gaps... I blame the impossible beauty standards set by Spongebob," he jokes, while explaining the media's toxic expectations of women's looks, "Society has intrinsically linked a woman's value to her outward appearance, thereby undermining her status and strengthening the patriarchal hegemony."
2. On Birth Control Subsidies in Health Insurance
"If we give your daughters and granddaughters access to birth control, they will instantly turn into wanted harlots, who have an insatiable sexual appetite," he says sarcastically, "Because as you know, women are always on the edge of nymphomaniacal orgiastic abandon!"
3. On Gamergate
Colbert brought on Feminist Frequency's Anita Sarkeesian, giving her the opportunity to voice her opinion. It is arguably more important to give women the opportunities to speak for themselves as well as be an ally.
4. On "Cooking with Feminists"
Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem. GLORIA STEINEM. Colbert hilariously embodies sexist attitudes while having Fonda and Steinem discuss the current state of the feminist movement while cooking in the kitchen.
5. On Equal Pay
Colbert takes on conservative icon Phyllis Schalfly, who said that the pay gap should remain constant because it "helps to promote and sustain marriages."
6. On Marriage
In this clip, a few years later, Colbert takes on another conservative voice, a Fox News columnist who said that liberated women are making themselves unattractive to men. "Sisters are doing it to themselves" is the world — if men do not want to get married, it is their fault. He jokes that by this logic, women should stop voting or stop talking, and then they can live out "every woman's wildest dream... marrying a man who wants you to achieve nothing."
If this is Colbert in his pre-straight up feminist days — when his monologue was confined to the conservative character — it was already very feminist, so we have a lot to look forward to in the new era.