Humour and Feminism in the Same Sentence

There have been a couple really awesome posts lately on the subject of humour and feminism:

TIGER BEATDOWN FOR DUDES PRESENTS: That’s not funny, no, seriously, Dude, it’s not

OMG! Boys! They are so adorable, right? For example, here is an adorable thing boys like to do: sort of deny or dance around the presence of misogyny, no matter how blatant it happens to be, when it comes from somebody they want to like!

Oh, wait, that’s not adorable. That is some lily-livered bullshit. Yet people do it, particularly when they’re boys: name a famous misogynist (Updike, Roth, Tarantino, Polanski, Apatow, LaBute, etc.) and I’ll name you an article or appraisal that contains some cowardly, passive-voiced admission that “some have called his work misogynist.” Um, some? Who are these “some?” What were their grounds for leveling this criticism? Can you, the professional critic, give us a well-reasoned argument for or against? Oh, never mind, that sentence is totally over and we’re back to talking about how this dude is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Because misogyny, whether or not it exists, is not a serious issue, because women aren’t important. Gotcha.

Go read the rest. NOW.

We also have the wonderful Feminism 101: On Language and the Commodification of Sex Via Humor from Shakesville:

“Geez, can’t you take a joke?” That’s all it takes—the implication that the woman who objects to public expressions of misogyny, who doesn’t find funny the means of her own subjugation, or doesn’t find amusing being triggered by careless “jokes” about a brutal event she has experienced, is humorless. Uncool. Oversensitive. Weak. (As though standing up to bigotry is the easy way out, and laughing along is somehow strong.)

Again, get with the reading of the rest. What are you waiting for?

These posts both touch on a subject dear to my heart: humour. I’ve always loved comedy, one of the many things I wanted to be growing up was a stand-up comic. I was raised on Monty Python and Mel Brooks, it was one of the things my father and I shared and share.

But it is well-known that feminism and humour cannot exist in the same fragile human form. Why is that?

Well, if I had to guess (and for purposes of this blog, I do) I would suggest that a great deal of humour (especially the varieties discussed in the above articles) relies on misogyny and hate, and no, I don’t find those funny. And once you start separating the comedic wheat from the chaff, yeah, I find a lot of stuff a lot less funny than I used to.

Do I wish I could shut off the awareness? Sometimes, when it seems as though nothing I encounter isn’t somehow going to piss me off by treating women or others as subhuman.

I try to think of it as improving my sense of humour, for not letting anyone get away with the “easy” jokes. Because when you can’t rely on rape-is-funny, men-and-women-are-different, oh-those-women-are-wacky-and-wow-they-like-shopping, you have to work a lot harder. And that’s no bad thing.

I just wish more comedy would try harder. Because it’s harder, and not because it’s “politically correct.”

Y’know, the problem with political correctness isn’t the one most people suggest. The problem is that it seemed to falsely expect that by simply making it clear you couldn’t be overtly assholish about a minority/any non-white-males, the actual problems of people being covertly assholish and bigoted would go away too. I am a great believer in making it clear that we as a society don’t condone some crap. We shouldn’t. But too many people seemed to assume that removing certain words removed the ideas and prejudices that went with them. And then others got upset that their God-Given Right to mock others who were different was being interfered with.

Seriously, if the worst problem you have in your day is whether or not the joke you’re about to tell might insult someone, you’re having a damn good day.

Also seriously, what the hell is wrong, exactly, with having to worry that you might offend someone? That you should be expected to treat everyone else as full human beings?

And if you can’t be funny without doing so, you’re not that funny in the first place.


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