When those people who I stupidly accepted as “friends” on Facebook or who follow me on Twitter have responded to things I’ve posted with misogynistic remarks, I’m supposed to let it roll off me. Like when I posted a link to a show I’m on that has more women on the line-up than men and some web designer from Georgia that I’ve never met in real life used my comments section as an open mic, writing, “What is this, The Lilith Fair of comedy?” and “I’ll come to your show if you promise one of these bitches gives me a BJ.”
When I speak up and say that something is not right, or fair or funny I’m told I need to lighten up, to learn to take a joke. I’m told, “Wow, for a comic you sure don’t have a sense of humor.”
I love jokes, when they are clever, smart and FUNNY! Calling women sluts, cunts, whores, making light of domestic violence and rape, responding to an outspoken woman with “go make me a sandwich” — those are not jokes. A good joke adds something new to the mix, makes a statement, tells a story, is original. Saying women are dumb twats who deserve to be hit and raped. only know how to suck dick, clean a kitchen, and bleed from their vaginas is misogyny masked as hack humor.
I’ll figure out how to write about it for real someday, but I love this article. I don’t find the parts about downing Whitney and Chelsea to be all that helpful, because it seems to me that in a story about how more women need to be on television, we shouldn’t shit on any of them who are - but I haven’t seen the shows, because I don’t watch much television, so I can’t comment on the statement.
I’ve got two key stories about ridiculous sexism in college, and this is one of them. I was one of two women in a 19 person design studio. For five years, we all shared the same walls together - the dynamic established itself pretty early and there wasn’t much room to change it. One would not describe me as overly feminine, I suppose, but who am I to decide what feminine means? I make more dick jokes than probably all of my male friends combined and I bet I’m better at swearing than you. If that takes away from my femininity, so be it, but I’ve always bristled at the suggestion that someone should “act like a lady”. (I take similar offense if I ever hear a man telling another man that he should “sack up”, at least if he’s being serious about it. I also don’t surround myself with those sorts of men.)
But the problem with being a lady who doesn’t “act like a lady” is that men don’t always know how to react to you. My good friends have never managed to have a problem with interacting with me, but that might be a chicken and egg situation. Regardless, there was one particular boy in my studio - and we’re talking year five here, it’s not like we were strangers to one another - who made it a point, over and over, to remind me that women were to be seen and not heard, that the men were talking, and so on. You’ve heard it before. And for the most part, I would let it roll off my back, because this guy was an asshole, and if I spent all my time letting assholes ruin my day, I wouldn’t have very many good days. I learned quickly that fanning his fire just made the flames bigger, so what was the point?
And one day, he launched into some particularly hateful rhetoric as I was standing up to give a presentation in front of everyone, including our female professor. I was nervous about the presentation and, again, he’s an asshole, so I had just about enough by that point. I ripped into him, and I can’t remember what I said, but I do remember what he said in response.
“Jesus, you don’t have to be such a bitch.”
Yeah? That might be true. But you know what else is true? If any of the sixteen other men in the room had said a single thing, he wouldn’t have told them to stop being such a bitch. Probably wouldn’t have said shit, because men get to put one another in their places, and the message to me was that I wasn’t a man, I was a bitch. Rough.
And good lord, you should hear some of the things that come out of my mouth. Try it during a sports event. Ask my friend Patrick what sort of words I used the day he called me to ask if I had seen the article about LeBron being willing to return to Cleveland. Threw out so many expletives I nearly blacked out. I say stupid, insensitive shit all the time. It’s sort of a character flaw that I’ve never really been sure how to tackle. (My other character flaws get priority first.)
I like to think I’m funny. I have people to back me up on that. People ranging from close friends to bartenders I just met tell me that I should try standup comedy, and I immediately tell them that I’m too nervous and anxious of a person to do it because it’s easier to blow them off than to actually think about getting in front of a group of people and putting myself on display. But I do think I have a pretty solid delivery, and I’m a very good storyteller. And somehow, I manage to pull those stories off without needing to talk about my period, or talk about how my vagina is feeling that day. Just like my incredibly funny male friends are capable of telling me stories without reminding me that they have a dick. It’s amazing, you guys; we manage to have conversations for hours without directly highlighting our gender differences. I don’t know how we do it either!
If you’re sick of hearing women make jokes about their periods, well, you should stop listening to those women. Just like if you’re sick of hearing dick jokes, you should stop listening to the men (and often women) who tell them. I’m looking forward to the time where we decide all these conversations about “funny women” and “women’s humor” are really insignificant, and we all just get on with making something great together. And thankfully I’m surrounded by strong, funny women who convince me that time is coming sooner than later.