John Oliver's Best Feminist Moments

by Alex Gladu

There are few things more rewarding than watching John Oliver make your point for you. The comedian and late-night talk show host takes on a variety of topics, ranging from credit scores to beauty pageants, but when it comes to issues faced primarily by women, Oliver has a way of saying what the world needs to hear. Last Week Tonight won't air another new episode until late September, but revisiting Oliver's epic rants on feminist issues should hold you over just fine for the next month.

Part of what makes Oliver's rants so epic — on all topics, not just the feminist ones — is his ability to have an impact. He has energized viewers to take action on issues including net neutrality and women's scholarships. He pointed out the flaws with for-profit colleges and bail money before the government took action. And, let's not forget, he turned "Drumpf" into one of the most-Googled terms of the current presidential election cycle. Clearly, Oliver's way with words is about much more than late-night entertainment — and while that's not a good thing for Donald Trump, it is a good thing for women. Just watch how Oliver takes on the need for paid family leave, the pro-choice argument, and those horrible comments left on women's social media posts.

The Wage Gap

In 2014, Oliver pointed out that if you look at statistics, in order to make the same amount as men, women need to remain unmarried, childless, and younger than 45 years old. The irony of the wage gap clearly isn't lost on him: "Classic: Women are paid less because they choose to have children, although to be fair, they didn't technically choose to be the sole gender biologically capable of pregnancy," Oliver joked.

Paid Family Leave

In a fitting Mother's Day episode, Oliver highlighted the lack of paid family leave in the U.S. — a void that doesn't exist in other countries. He shared the story of a woman who gave birth prematurely on a Wednesday and returned to work on the following Monday because she couldn't afford to take her unpaid leave early. Then, he shared the stories of lawmakers who think paid family leave is too expensive. Your move, lawmakers.

The Importance Of Choice

Last week, the topic of school choice headlined Oliver's pre-end-of-summer-hiatus episode. (Reminder: School choice is the notion that charter schools should introduce competition to the public school system.) In a segment on the validity of charter schools, Oliver managed to sneak in a zinger about another kind of choice: the pro-choice argument. He shared a clip of Ohio Gov. John Kasich calling for school choice and followed the clip with: "It's a little hard to hear the man who just defunded Planned Parenthood talk about the importance of choice."

Online Harassment

"It could potentially affect any woman who makes the mistake of having a thought in her mind and then vocalizing it online." That's how Oliver powerfully explained the risk that women face of being harassed online. As Oliver demonstrated in this 2015 episode, the problem ranges from offensive tweets to full-on revenge porn.

Abortion Laws

Abortion was one of the most-anticipated issues of Oliver's third season and, in February, he tackled it head on. He blasted states like Mississippi and Texas for using unfair laws to shut down abortion clinics. And, in case you were wondering, there's apparently no medical evidence that having an abortion leads to an increased risk of breast cancer.

Although Oliver won't be back on the air until September 25, Last Week Tonight will post web exclusives throughout its seasonal hiatus. When Oliver does return to television, let's hope he brings his poignant and well-researched feminism with him.

Images: Last Week Tonight/YouTube