Feminism

Leslie Knope Takes on MRAs

This post contains spoilers for the most recent Parks & Recreation episode, Pie-Mary. Proceed with caution!

Parks & Recreation has long been one of my favorite shows, and as we make our way through the final season, the show is in rare form. The permanently perky Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) is now married (with triplets!) to Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) who has decided to run for Congress! This poses problems for the power couple, as Ben’s campaign manager (played to perfection by Kathryn Hahn, who may be my favorite part of this season) tells them that Leslie’s intelligence and competence make her a hazard on the campaign trail. “It’s the smarties that freak people out,” she warns, while wearing a poncho to avoid being contaminated by Ben & Leslie’s kids (I feel ya, girl):

      

So when Leslie decides she may not participate in the Pie-Mary, a local pie-baking contest for the candidate’s wives, controversy brews. As so often happens in Pawnee, Leslie is damned if she does, and damned if she doesn’t. The media is appalled that she might decide not to take part in such a regressive tradition, but the Indiana Organization of Women says they’ll boycott Ben’s campaign if she does. To try and satisfy all parties, Ben decides to cook the pie for the contest… well, actually he makes a dessert calzone (HIGHWAY TO CALZONEZONE!). But then, a group of Men’s Rights Activists, The Male Men, show up to the Pie-Mary:

      

Why did they show up? I don’t remember. Why do men’s rights activists show up anywhere? Oh right, they were upset that Leslie made Ben participate in the Pie-Mary:

      

      

The satire is almost too real, with the head of the MRAs asking, “Can we have one conversation about feminism where men get to be in charge?” But by the end of the episode, Leslie lets the Male Men have it, in the way only Leslie Knope can:

Of course, real life Men’s Right’s Activists are up in arms. Between calling for a Parks & Rec boycott and quoting Gandhi, some took a more optimistic approach:

Actually that’s a sign of progress, I think. When you get attacked on mainstream shows, you’re going mainstream. I bet this happened to feminists in the 50s and 60s.

You tell ’em, Male Man.

Courtney Caldwell

Courtney Caldwell is an intersectional feminist. Her talents include sweary rants, and clogging your social media with pictures of her dogs (and occasionally her begrudging cat). She's also a political nerd, whose far-left tendencies are a little out of place in the deep red Texas.

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