Last week’s Feminism Friday post was on why Rape Jokes Just Aren’t Funny, based on a series from Melissa McEwan of Shakesville, and at the crosspost on Hoyden About Town Bernice made a telling comment.
Humour – the final frontier of colonialisation. You really now you’ve co-opted someone into the frame of dominance from which you work, when you can get them to laugh at jokes insensitive at the least, vicious in the usual. Which is why it’s so important to berate those humourless one who fail to laugh or worse still dare to complain – they’re obviously not with the programme.
Liss, via an extended photo-essay (warm up your scrolling finger), provides the hook for our Feminism Friday post again:
For the Discerning Gentleman: You, Too, Can Decorate Your Life With Disembodied Boobs
(Some pictures may be NSFW)
After the “fun” part, Liss gets down to the point, which echoes Bernice’s comment.
On that note, one of the most common themes among the emails I get is gratitude for expressing frustration or contempt or anger at something of which, women have been told in explicit or implicit ways, our jovial and uncomplaining acquiesce is expected. Thank you for saying it’s not funny. That something has always bothered me. It’s an expression of relief that someone has said publicly what they’ve felt privately—and maybe never said to anyone for fear of reprisal, for fear of being told they are humorless, hypersensitive, over-reactionary, boring.
For fear of hearing in those words, “Oh, you’re such a girl,” and feeling that thing, that awful thing, in your gut, the shame of being a girl—and then the twisting horror at the realization that you’ve let self-loathing grip you.
It’s a terribly effective silencing strategy, which is why the conveyance of patriarchal norms is so often closely associated with humor. Anyone who dares complain is just No Fun—hence, we find ourselves mired in a culture in which women who don’t laugh at seeing parts of their body routinely used as demeaning gags, and the men who are disgusted by such objectification of people they’re meant to love and respect, are the ones considered weird.
It can be really daunting to go up against all that, especially in one’s everyday life, on one’s own, just one woman against someone(s) equipped with such an effective institutionalized mechanism for shaming and silencing.
All this is, of course, why Lauredhel’s Anti-Feminist Bingo Card has the central “free” square as Can’t You Take A Joke? We’re meant to be shamed and silenced by the myth that jokes don’t matter, and Liss’ conclusion is worth memorising.
It’s so very girly to get all worked up about novelty boobs. Oh, you’re such a girl.
You’re fucking right I’m a girl.
I’m a girl with no sense of humor about anti-girl things—go figure.
I’m a girl with absolutely no interest in participating in my own subjugation, thank you very much.