Look around today, and you'll find no shortage of breathless praise of Joan Rivers describing how bold and funny she was. The thing is, when she was alive, some of those very same outlets were criticizing her as mean, vulgar, and offensive, writes Charlotte Alter at Time. Rivers joked about everything—her husband's suicide, her own death, celebrities' weight, Helen Keller, 9/11, you name it—and people were always getting offended and demanding that she apologize. Thankfully, she rarely did.
"In other words, she didn’t have boundaries, but boundaries are exactly what we pay comedians to break," writes Alter. Rivers explained over the years that laughter is how we humans deal with things, even dark things, so she wasn't about to shut up—even if a male comedian would have taken less flak for the same joke. "Where most women struggle to be taken more seriously, we needed to take Joan Rivers less seriously," writes Alter. "In a comedic career that spanned over 50 years, there was always someone who didn’t get the joke. But she wasn’t a 'bitch'—she was a comedian." Click for the full column. (Read more Joan Rivers stories.)