A Feminist Defense of Dave Cappelle

Eurydice Eve
4 min readAug 4, 2022

In the Wars of Meaning vs Meaning, Nature Matters.

Dave Chappelle is a professional satirist. The original, ancient Greek satyr was a drunken rapacious woodland god whose job was to offend our effete sensibilities by ridiculing all that civilization represents. With the head of a horse or a goat, the tail of a goat or a horse, and a telltale erection, the satyr was irreverent and foul for the sake of foul irreverence. His insults reminded audiences that none of us could escape our nature, despite our riches and pretenses. Aristophanes was the most famous ancient satirist who lampooned his fellow Athenians, desecrating their sanctimoniousness which had persisted even after they lost their empire to Sparta. Irreverence is a healthy antidote for a society in crisis.

Dave Chappelle got in serious trouble when he said, “Every human being in this room… had to pass through the legs of a woman,” he used a neo-Lysistrata rant. In that same show, “The Closet,” Chappelle pitted cishetwomen against transwomen. He mocked patriarchy’s appropriation of feminism when he marveled that Caitlin Jenner won Woman of the Year on her first year being a woman. He denigrated White, Black, Asian, lesbian and assault surviving women alike, reducing them all to body parts. But he was not vilified for that. He was vilified. for saying, “Gender is a fact.” That line cut to the core of our procreative difference. Gender is our patriarchal inheritance, seeded into our language.

Mr. Chappelle was saying that our nature predates our culture. Nature did not program us to treat girls and boys differently. Nature did program our procreative functions, but not the binarized meanings we gave them. Following the scientific developments in artificial insemination, birth control, and the recent updates in family and reproductive law, we outgrew notions of two “opposite genders.” Gender became fluid because there was no reason not to. Science had separated sex from procreation. Our sexual orientations no longer affected our reproductive roles. Gender became irrelevant.

Mr. Chappelle was met with criticism when he called attention to these facts of nature. He was criticized for referring to the trans comedian Daphne Dorman as a woman and also a father. Despite numerous public protestations to the contrary, calling Daphne a father didn’t reduce her to her anatomical body parts and did not dehumanize her. Our procreative jobs humanize us more than anything else we do. Sex and procreation simply no longer overlap.

Ms. Jenner too is a woman and a father — a privileged past role that, memorialized as it has been on TV, can’t be erased by her transition. The continuum of our lives, from first breath to present breath, makes us who we are. We are all parts of one DNA chain. Mr. Chappelle reminded us that transition isn’t amnesia.

The reason our language makes it sound odd that the same person is a woman and a father, is that it’s a novel concept, especially given the age of our common language. But our newborns accept us for whom we are and that is the goal of nonconformity: to be a mother who’s a man and a father who’s a woman. The contradiction was implanted in our patritrained minds by old patriarchy. A cheap paternity test is why motherhood no longer needs to be jailed in the norms and confinements of domesticated and sequestered womanhood.

Sexual anatomy is not procreative anatomy. We should separate gender from procreation culturally, as we have done legally and medically. Or we risk marginalizing the most marginalized people of all: mothers. Liberated briefly, and conditionally, since their hard labor remains unpaid, mothers incubate, carry, birth, breastfeed, nurture. Mothers become two or three or four in one. With each birth, mothers restart our algorithms and our cultural sequences. Mothers regenerate us. We should not conflate mothers with women, since not all women are mothers. If we do not conflate mothers with women, we liberate their gender. Our procreative work is unaffected by our social gender. We conflate gender with procreative function out of habit of signifier, but we separated sex from procreation via genetic sequencing decades ago, and thus demolished the raison d’ etre of patriarchy. Patriarchy is dead. Which is why men can marry men and be mothers and transgenders.

As a woman, I feel like a gender refugee in this culture. But I would feel it natural to be a father if that were what my body was programmed by nature to do. We acquire our procreative function before we are out of the womb, before our culture forms our consciousness and sense of self. It’s natural, not culturally enforced. We should respect it as we respect nature — as we respect our sister sequoias and our brother animals, many of whom are near extinction because of our cultural choices — by updating our language to liberate motherhood from womanhood, and fatherhood from manhood. And we should forgive Mr. Chappelle for bringing to light our inconsistencies and our cultural blind spots.

So I propose we leave Nature out of our culture wars. In the war that culture wages on nature, I bet on nature.

Eurydice Eve is the author of Satyricon USA https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Satyricon-USA/Eurydice/9780684862491 and other books. She is the host of Eve Eurydice podcast and the founder of Art Against All and Universal Mother Income. She writes regularly at https://Eurydice.substack.com and https://Eurydice.net

Dave Chappelle



Eurydice Eve

is a feminist author, artist, scholar, podcaster. Founder of Universal Mother Income and Art Against All. Satyricon USA, f/32, Procreativism. More: Eurydice.net