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Why Is There So Little Feminist Humor?
Is it that so much of feminism is really victimism? My personal problem with a lot of feminism is that it's not about equal rights for all but special rights for some -- those supposedly victimized by "the patriarchy" at every turn. The notion of victimization at every turn has to be maintained to keep the feminist industrial complex going. But, back to my question: Why are so many feminists so stone-cold serious (in the funniest way) and so incapable of laughing at anything?

Posted by aalkon at March 15, 2007 3:21 AM

Comments

Beats me, but then I'm apparently a sexist (according to a feminist friend for whom egalitarianism isn't going far enough).

Posted by: Melissa G at March 15, 2007 7:30 AM

Because they're humorless dykes, and fundimentally unhappy people.

Posted by: Casca at March 15, 2007 7:56 AM

I'm frequently accused of being a self-loathing woman by women who read my column -- most recently for my contention hitting a man is no more acceptable than hitting a woman.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 15, 2007 8:02 AM

There aren't any funny conservative women, either. Hitch did an article recently that said the problem is that women aren't funny.

Posted by: Crid at March 15, 2007 8:11 AM

The main premise of feminism is to sell a state of constant indignation about everything. You cannot have a sense of humor, if you are constantly pissed off or trying to find the latest insidious patriarchal conspiracy in the most mundane matter.

Posted by: Joe at March 15, 2007 8:31 AM

BTW, upon review, the CH piece in Vanity Fair was weak; disregard.

People can't stand being called humorless though... Speaks to savvy or lack thereof.

The funniest punchline you'll ever use: "Get it?"

Posted by: Crid at March 15, 2007 8:34 AM

Joe's right: People on the left use silly anger as a way to concentrate. Maybe people on the right use it as a silly way to find release.

Posted by: Crid at March 15, 2007 8:49 AM

Feminist humor? Try every TV commercial ever made.

Posted by: beansworth at March 15, 2007 8:57 AM

The commercials you're talking about -- those where men are made to look stupid -- aren't made by feminists (you really think there are a whole lot of angry feminist copywriters?) but by panderers trying to get female vote$.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 15, 2007 9:00 AM

Isn't it obvious? Having sex with a man is anti-feminism. Something about submitting to their oppression of women... Yada yada yada. I get pretty grumpy when I haven't gotten any in a while, I can't imagine how pissy I'd be if I couldnt/shouldnt/wouldnt for all eternity.

Posted by: christina at March 15, 2007 9:16 AM

"BTW, upon review, the CH piece in Vanity Fair was weak; disregard."

Good lad, Crid.

Hitch didn't do so badly, but it was as if he was writing it while vaguely mindful of some scandalously funny female chums. Kind of ruined his verve.

(Love Amy's point about the mythical, scolding feminist TV copy writers!).

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at March 15, 2007 9:52 AM

> while vaguely mindful of some
> scandalously funny female chums

Never scandalously; let's be clear, The theme of the piece holds.

Remember Richard Pryor burning at the stake on that album cover?

http://tinyurl.com/38ho22

He wasn't asking us to consider the trans-historical atrocities of racism, or the twisted exploitations from the Hooded Guys that brought us to that moment. What he was saying was "I am so fucked." Everyone can relate, even white guys. I've never seen a lady comedian do that without some backhanded intention.

The Hitchens piece just had the vibe of an assignment. The blowjob piece last year was the same way. Important topic, terribly, terribly important... But his heart wasn't in it, so there were no insights.

Posted by: Crid at March 15, 2007 10:26 AM

I think women, in general, are more squeamish about being unladylike, socially unacceptable, and hurting people's feelings.

(Not that many men would care about being unladylike.)

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 15, 2007 1:54 PM

I think women, in general, are more squeamish about being unladylike, socially unacceptable, and hurting people's feelings.

Sarah Silverman's comedy would certainly be an exception to this. Her stuff is weird and clever and really pushes all of these boundaries. But I can't quite figure out if she's funny or not.

Posted by: justin case at March 15, 2007 5:34 PM

That was funny before you noted not many men would worry about being unladylike.

Posted by: opit at March 15, 2007 8:22 PM

It's totally incorrect all to limit the definition of a Feminist to the militant, dykey, old-school stereotype. It's always shocking to me that people who beleive women should have the same opportunities as men don't think they should call themselves feminists. Last time I checked, that's what feminists started the fight for to begin with.

- A feminist who enjoys her share of sexist humor!

Posted by: Jina at March 15, 2007 8:26 PM

Wasn't Roseanne all about feminist humor?

Posted by: Radwaste at March 15, 2007 8:31 PM

It was more working class than feminist, Radwaste. Her big break came from Johnny Carson during the mid 1980s and not some stand up act in Berkeley. Yes, she did open the first feminist bookstore in Salt Lake City with her younger sister.

Posted by: Joe at March 15, 2007 8:54 PM

Ah Amy, you've reminded me of one of my favorite college-related "screw in the lightbulb" jokes:

Q: How many 'Cliffies does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A: It's *Radcliffe*, it's *women*, and it's NOT FUNNY!

Thank you. I'll be here all week.

Posted by: marion at March 15, 2007 11:14 PM

Marion, I don't mean to be confrontational or invalidate your experience, but I believe you may have forgot to spell it *womyn* in your joke.

It works slightly better that way.

(and couching this suggestion in those mealy-mouthed 'let's all get along, unlike those evil patriarchs' is my small attempt at humor)

(though, of course explaining a joke sucks all the fun out of a joke, unless you follow the link to the Wiki which must be a joke, cause it's seriously funny)

(but does explaining that you are explaining a joke in an effort to create a bigger joke then make the joke funny again?)

Posted by: XWL at March 15, 2007 11:55 PM

"... the best humour always comes from persecuted peoples ..." from Thought for the Day by the UK's Chief Rabbi. If he's right, and feminists don't have much humour, then a possible explanation is that females are not as persecuted as feminists would have us believe.


Certainly most of the feminist jokes are not so much funny as anti-man, eg "How do you save a man from drowning?" "Take your foot off his head." If you substitute "dog" for "man" you can see that this joke only works because it unexpectedly reveals the anti-man sentiment. Maybe it's really an anti-feminist joke.

Posted by: Norman at March 16, 2007 3:25 AM

> Certainly most of the feminist jokes
> are not so much funny as anti-man,

You are really, really on to something with this. Air America is unlistenable because they find no amusement in the world until it mocks Karl Rove. Then it's OK to laugh, however insincerely. But up until that moment, life is SERIOUS BUSINESS, and you're not being sufficiently respectful unless you carry yourself like it is.

See also, Robert Wright of Bloggingheads.TV.

In a similar vein, see also the entire career of Ellen DeGeneres. I've just never understood it. The ironies she fondles are so petty, and her insights are so slender... Why are people making time for such a person? FIVE DAYS A WEEK?

Posted by: Crid at March 16, 2007 6:25 AM

""... the best humour always comes from persecuted peoples ..." from Thought for the Day by the UK's Chief Rabbi. If he's right, and feminists don't have much humour, then a possible explanation is that females are not as persecuted as feminists would have us believe."

I would amend that statement a bit. The best humor always comes from persecuted peoples *who do not see themselves as victims*. There's a reason that there are a lot of Jewish comedians but very little Palestinian humor (yes, yes, I know there are complicating factors there). If you're persecuted and yet trying to find a reason to get out of bed in the morning, a sense of humor is a must. Once you start seeing yourself as a victim, your sense of humor goes out the window. Many women who strongly identify with the mainstream feminist movement see themselves as victims...as, I'd argue, do a lot of the people at Air America. (I don't think Ellen Degeneres does. I think she's just a very...gentle comedian and people respond to that, even if she's not all that funny, because they're sick of the insanity on other talk shows.)

XWL, I believe that that joke predates the use of "womyn," so I'm keeping it in its authentic form. But thanks for the suggestion.

Posted by: marion at March 16, 2007 7:01 AM

Wassup, Amy? Germaine Greer piss in your Wheaties again?

Posted by: deja pseu at March 16, 2007 7:07 AM

> she's just a very...gentle comedian
> and people respond to that

I like you, Marion.

I feel the same way about Sinbad. Listen, harshing showbiz figures is cheap. But sometimes you look at the people who get rewarded for being gifted entertainers and you realize that many folks in their audience are really, really lonely, and desperate to recognize a shared perception, rather than be offered a novel one.

> see themselves as victims..

Exactly, exactly. Laughing sincerely would imply comfort in your surroundings, and break the illusion that you're not responsible for your own outcome, and we can't have that, can we?

Posted by: Crid at March 16, 2007 7:21 AM

... womyn ... Private Eye (a satirical UK magazine) spelled it "wimmin." I always pronounce it with a very short "i." See examples for some biting humour. The Book of Wimmin cover is a great start to a book. Extracts:


  • We now allow men to attend our seminars, but we do not allow them to ask questions. This seems to be a sensible solution because however well-meaning or feminist a man may be, he is still sexist because he is a man.

  • Coitus is punishment, I say. I am a feminist, not the fun kind. Coitus is the punishment for cowardice, for the fear of being alone.


These are not meantto be funny, but it's feminist writing, and it has me hooting, so it must be feminist humour, no?

Posted by: Norman at March 16, 2007 7:55 AM

Coitus is the punishment for cowardice, for the fear of being alone.

I've been very, very, very afraid of being alone in my life.

And this question is in response to a letter I'm working on for my column from a woman pissed off that I dared suggest another woman be a bit sensible, and, as Crid put it, be responsible for her own outcome. I also suggested, in the column she's pissed off, about that it's as wrong for a woman to hit a man as it is for a man to hit a woman...imagine that!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 16, 2007 8:09 AM

"I feel the same way about Sinbad."
You know, back in the dark ages I saw a Sinbad standup special, and maybe this is my youth-at-the-time talking, but...he was good. Very funny. Sort of like a cleaner, less angry version of Chris Rock.

Wrong for a woman to hit a man? Amy, there you go with this crazy talk about equal treatment again. Clearly it's the drugs. Or the coitus. Or something. (When is someone going to develop an HMTL sarcasm tag? I need it.)

Posted by: marion at March 16, 2007 10:57 AM

I've been very, very, very afraid of being alone in my life.

And this question is in response to a letter I'm working on for my column from a woman pissed off that I dared suggest another woman be a bit sensible, and, as Crid put it, be responsible for her own outcome. I also suggested, in the column she's pissed off, about that it's as wrong for a woman to hit a man as it is for a man to hit a woman...imagine that!

You fucking sexist! :D

Posted by: Melissa G at March 16, 2007 12:57 PM

I don't think all feminists are humorless. I remember seeing a comic in an old journal called "Herstory" that was entitled "The Sylvia Plath Bake-Off." It depicted a roomful of women with their heads in the oven. Very cute!

Posted by: Lena at March 16, 2007 3:46 PM

Oh yes, now I'm rolling on the floor holding my aching sides.

Posted by: Casca at March 17, 2007 3:16 PM

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