“No man is capable of being your best friend…”

Posted on 16 February 2011


“[N]o man is capable of being your best friend. A best friend is someone who goes to get their nails done with you, and I can’t respect a man who gets a pedicure.”

Chelsea Handler has a strange definition of “friendship”.

From Musings of an Inappropriate Woman

You said it, Rachel.

There are so many things wrong with this statement that I can only hope the context, given the quoted person is a comedian, was one of quipping on a talk show or something. Nonetheless, I thought it would be fun to geek out for a bit and unpack the wrongness, starting at the end of the statement and working my way backwards.

“I can’t respect a man who gets a pedicure.”

Sexist. If you can’t respect a person for engaging in a behaviour, especially one as simple and innocuous as getting your nails done, because you think it’s inappropriate for their gender, you are sexist. You can think it’s funny or unusual because it’s different from mainstream cultural expectations, but as soon as you use it as a reason to think less of a human being, that’s narrow-minded discrimination.

(Funny sidebar: when I saw a picture of Chelsea Handler I thought “She totally looks like someone who would be sexist. Her whole look screams ‘this is what a girl looks like’.” So, yeah, I jump to baseless conclusions too.)

“A best friend is someone who goes to get their nails done with you.”

I’ve had my nails done professionally twice in my life and both times I went by myself. Looks like I’ve never had a best friend. The shallowness and privileged-ness of this example (is it an example?) of what friendship entails are pretty unbelievable.

It’s shallow because it’s focused purely on appearance and a tiny detail of appearance that is pretty much the definition of unnecessary. I don’t mean I think everyone who gets their nails done is shallow. But to  use something patently superficial as the basis of true, deep friendship is to completely misunderstand the concept.

It’s clearly privileged because regular beauty treatments are out of the price range of a lot of people.  It’s hard to remember all the different versions of normal there are out there when all the people you know get their nails done every week I suppose. Sorry, all the women.

The use of the simple present tense which is used to describe a common action tells us that going to get your nails done is something that Chelsea does regularly.

Plus, she does it all the time but she can’t respect some other people who do it. Hypocrisy.

“No man is capable of being your best friend.”

A silly, blanket statement. Go ahead and feel more comfortable being friends with people of the same gender as you, but it’s a bit short-sighted to completely discount the idea that you could have a best friend of the opposite sex one day.

“A best friend is someone who… and I can’t respect a man who…”

I had to ellipsise a lot, but I did find a positive thing she has to say about what she looks for in a best friend: she has to respect them.

Thanks for reading my over-blown, over-earnest analysis of some random throwaway line some poor stand-up in the USA made. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it.