There are these enduring images of what a “feminist” looks like in our collective consciousness. Let’s see... She is not terribly attractive. She is not wearing make-up, or a bra. She’s in loose clothing, but if you get a glimpse under her arms, you will see that her pits are hairy.
Most importantly: She is angry. Her fist is waving in the air and she is shouting.
Well, ladies and gents, there has been a lot to be angry about, and to some extent there still is. But this does not mean that we should be angry all the time, and I also admit that sometimes the message gets across better when made in a funny way.
This is something I have discovered recently to my delight: funny feminists. I read Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman not too long ago, ready to be disappointed after all the reviews raving how hilarious it was. To my surprise I discovered that it was... hilarious. Here is a pretty good portrait/review that gives the gist of some of the stuff. I also found my current favourite feminist rant site Bitch through a link to this LOL-worthy “review”. What better way of saying it than with pictures of cats?
Then there are of course women whose job it is to be funny, and even when not “feminists” in the deliberate sense, they are in fact trailblazers in an industry where not having a penis is a real disadvantage, as a recent interesting, but rather depressing study shows:
“Gender determines the proportion of speaker and audience laughter. Whether they are speaker or audience (in mixed-sex groups), women laugh more often than men. ... Neither males nor females laugh as much with female speakers as they do with male speakers, helping to explain the paucity of female comedians.
On average, men are the best laugh getters. ... Laughter is sexy. Women laughing at men are responding to more than their prowess in comedy. Women are attracted to men who make them laugh (ie, "have a good sense of humour"), and men like women who laugh in their presence.”
In this mildly depressing context I will simply bow to Phyllis Diller, a pioneer in the field who recently passed away. Here is a good obituary from the NYT, and here a sample of her work... ok, TOTALLY un-PC, but fat jokes are just too funny!
But now I come to the crux of today’s rant. It is great to have women cracking it in the funny business, and even better to have feminists laugh at themselves, the patriarchy and the world in general. But the absolutely BEST part is when it is the women who’ve made it, the ones at the top of their game, whatever powerful stuff that game is. It made my day when I discovered this: A tumblr called “Texts from Hillary”, set up with pictures of famous (American) people texting coupled always with one of a stone-faced Hillary Clinton, both with captions of what was purportedly in the texts between Ms Clinton and whomever. Some of them are funny, some less so, some I didn’t get. Most of the funniest ones involve Clinton ostensibly responding with a thumping, sarcastic putdown. What made the boys that ran the tumblr (that had gotten hugely popular within merely a week) stop? “Hillz” herself submitted an entry. Chapeau, Madam (former) Secretary of State.
So ladies, next time you find yourselves in a tight spot – make a joke of it. Gents, next time a lady says something even mildly funny in your vicinity – have a loud, guffawing laugh at it. You kind of owe it to her, since she’s probably laughed at much less amusing pronouncements of yours in the past.
Jokes welcome in the comments section...