Feminist Agenda: Taylor Kirby

_DSC4429I grew up poor. Most often, this only meant I couldn’t attend the same field trips as my friends. Sometimes it meant we lived in our car or a gritty hotel flush with the interstate.

When I got my first minimum wage job, I felt positively affluent. My family was on the up and up at the time, and I realized that income could sometimes be expendable. Later, when an employer first offered me a double-digit pay rate (I’m talking $10 an hour) I played Drake’s “Started From the Bottom” in an embarrassingly non-ironic way.

Poverty can be ostracizing, especially to a kid. I was embarrassed to bring friends home and answer their questions about why we didn’t have cable, internet, or food that wasn’t canned. I lied about large breakfasts I’d eaten at home rather than admit I was enrolled in our elementary school’s free breakfast program. If I’d talked about it, I probably would have found out this was a shared experience between many of my peers. Because I didn’t, my only outlet was found through fictional characters.

Roseanne was years past its series finale by the time I started watching it in the early 2000s, but this didn’t make it any less accessible to me. Through it, I saw humor in jobs lost and normalcy in nights spent without electricity due to outstanding bills. Flash forward to college, and I learned to love the show as more than a piece of comedy in one of my first women’s studies classes, where we studied a Halloween episode as a text that challenged gender norms. The show was enduringly progressive, and I realized then that the character of Roseanne was a sort of primer text for my developing feminism.

To sit front row at Roseanne Barr’s comedy set last week was something out of a dream. I’ve encountered a lot of celebrities I’ve admired, but none for as long or as significantly as Roseanne. Yeah, she’s kind of crazy now, but it’s a kindred kind: I understand her sardonic bitterness and determination to find something to laugh at during hard times. That kind of craziness is very much missing from mainstream media, and I’d love to see a new domestic goddess find her place in the public eye.

Taylor Kirby
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