Sunday, March 1, 2009

Where is the Feminists' Sense of Humor?

In a nutshell:
Why is it that feminists seem to lack a sense of humor? Should any chauvinistic remark by a man, even if pronounced as a private joke between friends, lead to a lawsuit?,


Photo source: Wikipedia

"Moi, je t'ai donnĂ© la tua donna" (I gave you your wife) – those were the alleged words that Silvio Berlusconi, Italian Prime Minister, whispered to Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France and husband of originally Italian Carla Bruni. These words were only deciphered through the help of a lip-reader hired by the French TV channel Canal+. The result was an announcement by two Italian lawmakers of the opposition (Anna Paola Concia of the left-wing Democratic Party and MEP Donata Gottardi), that they consider filing a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights.

So, where is the feminists' sense of humor?

This question reminds me of my childhood best friend. She had an older sister with which she constantly quarreled, and she used to talk badly of her to my ears. One day I myself said something, which wasn't very nice, about said sister. My friend was offended and upset with me. "But you say it all the time!" I exclaimed, surprised. "Yes", she responded, "but I'm her sister!"

How is this relevant to showing a sense of humor in accepting chauvinistic remarks? – My friend allowed herself to speak the way she did about her sister because she herself, me, her sister, and everyone else knew that she actually loved her sister very much. When I said what seemed to be the same thing it automatically WASN'T the same thing anymore. It is a known fact that much of Jewish traditional humor targets the Jews themselves. Should someone else try to tell the same joke, however, it would no longer be the same, and no longer be funny.

I'm not sure that this specific remark of Berlusconi is particularly worthy of the attention. It is, however, chauvinistic, and as for the feminists' sense of humor – it definitely exists (in general. Several feminist people have more of it and others have less, just like in any other population). But it is reserved to the feminists themselves. Otherwise, the joke, that feminists may share and laugh about, becomes a joke on them. And this is much less funny.

But wait: wouldn't feminism be more appealing to the masses were it presented as less hard headed? I think it would, much like Barbie or Playboy, for instance. Oh, right: but we're fed up with being either Barbie or a cover girl, a nun, a slut or a mother. So yes: when one wants to be taken seriously, one ought to suspend one's sense of humor. Especially when the joke is not even funny.
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