Why aren’t women funny?

Well, they are, of course.  It’s just that many men don’t find them funny.  Which is why many stand-up clubs (those managed by men) (that is, almost all of them) actually have a rule: only so many stand-ups on any given night can be women.  Too many and they kill the night.

But, of course, that’s so only in clubs where most of the audience is male.  Because, as I’ve said, men don’t find women funny.  Partly, this could be because men find farts and burps funny.  (Except, of course, when women fart and burp.  For some reason, they find that horrifying.)

The other mainstay of comedy (for both sexes) is ‘(heterosexual) relationship humour’ – so men laugh at the caricatures of women presented by men (and women laugh at the caricatures of men presented by women).

But my guess is that even with sex-neutral comedy, women comedians fare more poorly than men.  A woman tells a socio-political joke, and people (men) just sort of stare at her (as if they’re seeing a dog walking on its hind legs?).  Give a man the same material, and the audience will respond.  Ironically (given my topic), I think this is so because men don’t take women seriously. To laugh at someone’s joke is to accord them some sort of authority, if only the authority to make some sort of comment through humour.

Either that or they’re just not interested in women (except as sexual possibilities).  (I’m reminded of a brilliant skit I once saw, on “A Bit of Fry and Laurie”: a woman was giving a business presentation and all present, mostly men, were paying such close and supportive attention – I was, frankly, surprised (that had certainly never happened to me!); then the woman casually mentioned that she’d come up with her proposal on the weekend when she was out with her boyfriend, and their attention turned off as quickly and as completely as a spotlight – a woman is either a sexual possibility or she doesn’t exist.)

This would explain why, for example, Susan Juby didn’t win the Leacock Medal of Humour with I’m Alice, I think.  It’s a hilarious coming of age story.  But it’s about a girl.  So while generations of girls have had to read about boys coming of age (The Apprentice of Duddy Kravitz, A Separate Peace, Lord of the Flies, Catcher in the Rye, The Outsiders, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, and on and on), boys have only had to read about Anne Frank (no doubt, it was ‘saved’ by the wartime setting) (oh, well, put guns in it and…).  When a boy comes of age, that’s important, because, well, he’s becoming a man.  But when a girl comes of age, well, she becomes a woman.  Unimportant.  In fact, the Medal has been won by a woman only twice in 30 years.  I wonder if the panel of 17 judges consists mostly of men (the judges aren’t named on their site, but the President and Vice-President are, and they’re both men, whereas the two secretaries and person in charge of the dinner? they’re women).

Sex and Gender Conflated

I recently spent some time at another blog (someone had linked to one of my posts and invited me to the discussion), and I discovered that several of the discussants conflated gender and sex.  I was shocked.  (And in fact, that possibility so didn’t occur to me that I continued the surreal discussion for some time before I realized they’d made that mistake: the moderator objected to my suggestion that we do away with gender, claiming that that was what made us, or at least him, human; another commenter said something like the species couldn’t continue without it).

They seemed to be intelligent people (the moderator was intelligent enough to use the word “incumbent” and to demand evidence for a claim).  So why—how—given the 70s—how is it that the distinction between sex and gender has not become common knowledge?

The Little Birdies

So I’m out walking today, and as I pass a neighbour tending his bird feeder, I wave.

And the guy calls out to me “I’m feeding some seed to the little birdies!”

The little birdies?  What am I, twelve? 

No, I’m female.  (I have a hard time believing that he would’ve said the same thing to a middle-aged man.)

And (many) men talk to women differently than they do to men. They talk to us like we’re children.  Idiot children.

Police urge riders to use caution after second sexual assault by fake taxi driver.

Right, that’ll work.  Women should use caution.

Okay, as long as we’re putting the responsibility on the women (sigh), how about a women-only taxi service?

Anyone out there looking for a job?  Someone with a BBA could prepare a business plan, someone else could prepare a Kickstarter proposal to get funding (I offer my editing services if need be), and a lawyer to set it up as a franchise or whatever you call it so it can be in every city, and away we go!

Women taxi drivers picking up women customers.  We could grab half the market overnight.

Sex and So You Think You Can Dance

When So You Think You Can Dance first started, they had one winner. In season 9, they decided to have two winners: one male and one female. I thought it was because they realized the odds were stacked in favour of male dancers since most of the viewers/voters were female (and, presumably, heterosexual) (and, presumably, not voting for dance ability as much as for sexual appeal). However, in the preceding eight seasons, there were four female winners and four male winners. The runner-ups were a bit more skewed, with two female and six male.

Then I read in an interview about the change, this comment: “Girls dance totally differently than guys.” Yeah, if that’s what their choreographers demand. (Who may, in turn, be providing, what Nigel Lythgoe and the other producers demand.) I have to say I am so very sick and tired of almost every dance being a presentation of the stereotyped (i.e., gender-role-rigid) heterosexual romance/love/sex scenario, right down to the music, the costumes, and, of course, the moves.

But now, they’ve reverted to one winner – suggesting that sex is irrelevant to dance. Does that mean they’re going to make the dances – the music, the costumes, the moves – as sex-independent? Not likely.

Pity. Because I, for one, would love to see more like Mark Kanumura’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” audition piece and Mandy Moore’s “Boogie Shoes” (the latter was, like the former, pretty much just asexual fun with music and movement despite the gendered costumes – cutesy skirt/dress for one, long pants for the other, pink shoes for the one, blue shoes for the other – yes, yes, we must must MUST separate, distinguish, the girls from the boys, the patriarchy depends on it, the subordination of women depends on it!). (And that’s another thing: would they PLEASE stop calling 18-30 year-olds ‘girls’ and ‘boys’?)

They (the So You Think You Can Dance people) really should make up their minds. If sex is important to what they want to be doing, then they should have best male and best female dancer awards, continue to pair in male/female, and continue to insist the males look and dance in a hypermasculinized way and the females look and dance in a hyperfeminized (which in our society means in a pornulated way).

If sex isn’t important to what they want to be doing, then they should have best dancer award, and pair at random – actually, since the heterosexual mating concept would no longer be the central motif, they wouldn’t have to be limited to pairs at all – and let the dancers dance with strength, balance, coordination, musicality, and skill, with beauty, drama, fun, and quirkiness, regardless of their sex.

I’m not a feminist. Feminism is so over. We live in a post-feminist world.

It used to be that men pressured women to have sexual intercourse with them.  And despite the fact that it meant risking years of unhappiness for us (unwanted pregnancy, unwanted children), for ten seconds of bliss or relief for them, we’d do it.  How stupid was that?

Of course, without the weight of the patriarchy, fewer of us would’ve done it, but still.  (And by ‘the weight of patriarchy,’ I include the social bit of being raised to yield to men and the economic bit of having to marry one in order to have children.)

But now?  Nothing’s changed.  Damn right you’re not feminists, as all you young things proclaim with revulsion.  Because you’re still servicing men.  Only now it’s with blow jobs.  You’re still trading your pleasure for theirs.  (Your clitoris isn’t in your throat.)

When a boy makes a girl come and keeps his own pants on, when a boy becomes popular (or a professional) because he knows what to do with his hands and his tongue, then you can say it’s so over. 

Parents furious? Please.


I’d be uncomfortable around any child who enjoyed pretending to kill–anything.

Especially if that child was going to grow up to be a man, was going to be flooded with testosterone for several years.

I’d also be uncomfortable around any adult who considered that behavior “a game”.



Bare Breasts: Objections and Replies

[I wrote this piece back in the early 90s when Gwen Jacobs did her thing (yay, Gwen!), but apparently it all still needs to be said.  A couple years ago, I was ‘spoken to’ by a neighbour for taking my shirt off on a hot summer day when I was out kayaking.  Most amusingly, I was ‘spoken to’ again when I did the same thing just last year, post-bilateral-mastectomy.  Which brings to mind Twisty’s hilarious “Cover ’em up if you have ’em and even if you don’t” comment.]

In response to the moral outrage about women going shirtless in public, I offer the following. Continue reading

“Royal Male”

Noticed the headline while I was standing in the check-out at the grocery store today: “ROYAL MALE”.

Right.  It could have half a brain, but hey, as long as it’s MALE.


Impoverished (male) Scientists

To read the science journals, one would think animal life consists of nothing but predation and reproduction, both thoroughly competitive in nature.  The absence of any capacity for pleasure, or at least for non-competitive pleasure, is frightening.  Lining a nest with warm and soft material is not for comfort, but to “increase the survival rate of offspring” and arranging for others to watch the baby during long and deep dives is not from affection but to “maximize reproductive success”.

This is of concern for two reasons.  First, to judge by my own life and that of the dog with whom I live, that view is, to say the least, narrow and thus incomplete.

Second, what does it reveal of the scientists?  Do they really see nothing but predation and reproduction – nothing but competition for food and sex?  If it’s true that we see what we want to see, well, why do these people want to see nothing but that?  Is it a projection of their own view of life?  How awful –  how impoverished one must be –  to see life – to live life – as nothing but a competition – and, worse, a competition for nothing but food and sex.  Or does it provide some sort of vicarious satisfaction?  Either way, there’s the possibility of an ever tightening and dangerous circle: if that’s all we think there is, that’s all we’ll see, and if that’s all we see, that’s all we’ll think there is.  Socializing not as a reproductive strategy, but for companionship; playing not as practice for evading a predator or capturing prey, but for fun; lying in the sun not to regulate one’s body temperature, but simply because it feels good – why are these things so unthinkable?

Or perhaps these things are thinkable, are visible, but are considered unimportant, trivial.  What a value system that reveals!  Not only that food and sex are more important than beauty and laughter, but that competition is more important than cooperation.

These are our scientists.  These are the people who are collecting information, amassing knowledge, constructing our view – or rather, imposing their view – of the world.  Surely a little more responsibility, a little more maturity, is called for.


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