It’s been said that feminists don’t have a sense of humor. In fact, it’s a pretty commonly accepted stereotype. Feminists are seen as didactic, self-righteous and completely unable to laugh at themselves.
It’s been said that feminists don’t have a sense of humor. In fact, it’s a pretty commonly accepted stereotype. Feminists are seen as didactic, self-righteous and completely unable to laugh at themselves. We’ve probably all been in a situation where the self-proclaimed feminist in the room never seems to be laughing along with the rest of the group or is always pointing out how something is sexist. They’re serious, they’re scary, and they’re not any fun. Right?
Wrong. Some of the funniest people I know are hardcore feminists. And it isn’t a coincidence. Their quick wit is without question linked to their daily rejection of sexism and oppression by an acute perceptiveness and great sensitivity. Their appreciation of humor, though, may on occasion be bested by their intolerance of societal norms that would minimize or perpetuate any form of oppression.
And so the stereotype is born: feminists are rigid and humorless.
Fortunately for us, Miranda Williamson of PSU’s Women’s Resource Center has created an opportunity to confront that stereotype head-on. Along with former WRC employee Carmen Trineece-Anderson and four other local stand-up comedians, Williamson is putting together an evening of feminist comedy at the Food For Thought Café with the intention of tackling the notion that feminists can’t be funny.
“Yes, we are serious about sexism, racism and oppression,” Williamson said, “but that doesn’t mean that we lack a sense of humor.”
The feminist comedy show is an exciting and much-needed addition to the PSU events calendar. It not only celebrates a side of feminism we don’t usually see, but it also highlights a community most of us might not even know exists: female comedians who actively promote and engage in feminist humor.
The show’s headliner, local stand-up comedian and activist Belinda Carroll, is one such feminist comedian. Carroll believes that humor “loses its fun when it is directed at folks who are the ‘other’.” Carroll wants to be funny without targeting certain kinds of people, mocking people’s differences or making light of oppression. “Things in life can be funny without being sexist or oppressive,” Williamson said.
The comedy can spring from your own life and experiences.
Let comedy be introspective, not critical. Find what’s funny in your own life instead of poking fun at others. Some of the best stand-ups I can think of are loved for their ability to see the hilarity of their personal experience, choosing not to capitalize on the pain or humiliation of others. This is exactly what the ladies at this show will be doing.
Not only will this event prove that feminists can have a sense of humor (and can actually be funny), it will show that feminists are able to laugh at themselves. As Carroll observes, “The only way to get through the seriousness is through laughter.”
Feminism is serious business, for sure, but the goal of any activist should be to try and promote self-awareness and the ability to self-evaluate. Feminists must be willing to hold a mirror up to themselves from time to time—not only to society at large.
Most importantly, these feminists are teaching by example. “By not making rape jokes and still being really funny,” Williamson said, “they are indirectly sending a message about what is and isn’t funny.”
Feminists are known for coming down hard on insensitive and oppressive humor. Now finally we get to see what a feminist’s idea of comedy really looks like. It’s also interesting and important that the women involved in this event aren’t only concerned with humor that is sexist or degrading to women, but also humor that targets any minority.