Jen Kirkman: Getting on Stage is a Feminist Act

Oct 31, 2016

Comic, author, and actress Jen Kirkman comes to Iowa this weekend as part of the Witching Hour Festival. On her latest special on Netflix, I'm Going to Die Alone (and I Feel Fine), Kirkman dives into the topic of her decision to not have children.

"Even the movement itself is called 'Childfree by Choice' and choice to me illustrates, you know, Coke or Pepsi, you sit there and you weigh the options. To me it was a non-instinct. It never dawned on me to even want children, ever. It wasn't even a choice."'

But to others, that non-instinct was unthinkable. People confronted her constantly at parties, in public, asking why in the world she wouldn't want children.

"The humor to me is it is so something I never think about and now I'm being forced to think about it because of other people's reactions. And I think that's what it's all about."

Kirkman originally conceived of the title, I'm Going to Die Alone (and I Feel Fine), for her first book. When her publishers didn't allow her to use it, she repurposed it for the comedy special.

"It got so desperate for people to try to convince me, that they had to scream out 'You're going to die alone!' at a party. I hadn't even put my coat down yet. So I think that, to me, is where it feels so empowered, is I'm truly exasperated. Like, what am I supposed to say in these moments? I never really thought of anything good to say back. I said it all on stage."

In her comedy and through social media platforms, Kirkman unapologetically discusses her divorce, her childlessness, and harassment, so she isn't too surprised that people have labeled her as a feminist voice.

"It's a feminist act. Sadly; it shouldn't be; but it still is, to get up on stage and talk. So I guess in that small way, it still is. I always trying to be conscious of, I'm a white woman so I'm not speaking for everybody. I try to be intersectional but I can't speak for every woman's experience."

Her next Netflix special, which she just finished taping and will air in 2017, will tackle those subjects more directly.

"It's a little more on-the-nose feminist: I talk about street harassment. It's all about women kinda going through the world on their own. I'm actually anxious about the response that I will get about that. I always worry I'm not smart enough for the smart people and that the people who don't want to hear comedy about that stuff will think it's too challenging. I worry about it. It’s great; I’m glad that people think I have something to say, but I feel like I’m just saying what all women have been shouting forever which is basically ‘Please let us make our own choices,’ and ‘We’re human.’”

Jen Kirkman will be performing at the Englert Theater in Iowa City Saturday, November 5th, at 9:00 p.m.