Marta Acosta forwarded me another link, this time to a Vanity Fair article by Christopher Hitchens attempting to explain Why Women Aren’t Funny.
Largely an examination of gender mixed with wit vs. humor, the upshot of Hitchens’ article seems to be that men will laugh at anything, and therefore have more material to draw from so as to create the funny-funny. Women are serious about most things, and expect to be entertained by men, and thus are more picky about what they laugh at.
Perhaps, says Hitchens, men do not want the competition from women in the funny department, but more likely, men like “childish” humor while women do not. Add to that the “authority” given to women by virtue of being the ones that reproduce and birth children, and you have the root of all that silly humor: the mocking of that authority – women.
I’ll be the first to admit: pregnancy is often funny. It’s not comfortable, and it’s bizarre and scary and incredibly moving at times (literally and figuratively), but be real, here. I have to stand on my head to empty my bladder, and rolling over is like steering a cruise ship. I can’t reach the faucet on the sink because my belly is in the way and my arms are too short. And we won’t even discuss stretch marks and how they make me scratch my gut like I’m on the back porch drinking a beer.
And afterward? Motherhood of a toddler? Or an adolescent? Or heaven help us all, a teenager? If you can’t find the humor in it, you’ll go bananas.
All these women he describes in the throes of maternal formality? I have no patience for them anyway. Even without discussion of motherhood and children, women in my acquaintance are pretty amusing. I think yesterday might have been one of the more serious things we’ve written about here, and even then some of the terms Candy used made me snort.
The spinning imbalance of power and authority in the article between men and women, humor and seriousness, political and familial authority – thinking about that article too much just made me dizzy. Men, the social and political authority in patriarchal societies, are subjugated under the authority of women, and therefore we are mocked and certainly aren’t funny? Amongst ourselves, we ladies are serious, self-absorbed, and have the funny drummed out of us during the absolutely formal experience of childbirth?
So what the hell is with this assumption that women sit around taking themselves too seriously – are you kidding me?
Edited to add:
Ann Althouse’s site discussed the article, as did Melinda, a comic who drew a very clear parallel between women and anger, and anger and comedy. Then, a group of comics do some dissection amongst themselves at Jenisfamous.