I’m not funny.

2 03 2009

The tired theme that women aren’t funny gets some new life in today’s Guardian, with Germaine Greer trying her hand at the famously explosive topic. Greer’s strategy seems to be to mitigate the objections of ladybloggers and assorted other wimminfolk by following each absurd assertion (“Women are about as funny as a botched colostomy”) with some half-hearted apologia (“But that’s only because they don’t want to be!”).

“Women famously cannot learn jokes,” Greer writes. “If they try, they invariably bugger up the punchline. The male teller of jokes is driving towards his reward, the laughter of his mates. The woman who messes up the same joke does so because her concentration is not sharpened by that need. She is not less intelligent, simply less concerned.”

Oh Germiane, you caught me. Try as I might to tell a good chuckler, my lady brain invariably gets distracted by more pressing issues, like hairstyles and sewing notions.

Wait, though. Greer then backpedals a bit and asserts that women actually can deliver jokes, we just can’t think them up:

“Given an opportunity to perform a finished comedy routine, a female comedian will make you laugh as hard as any man. Put her in an improvisation situation along with male comedians, and she is likely to be left speechless.”

Where the logic of Greer’s argument falls apart is when she moves from moderately fact-based Assertion One, “There are more funny men in entertainment than there are funny women” to unsupported, overreaching Assertion Two, “Men are naturally funnier than women.”

I think that if it is true, at least on average, that a woman is less likely than a man to get a laugh, it’s because boys are raised to attract attention, while girls are brought up to deflect it. All jokes, gags and innuendos basically say the same thing: Look at me. And on the whole, men are more comfortable in the spotlight, possibly because they don’t have an entire entertainment industry firing mortars at their self-worth from the time they pick up a crayon.

I wish there were more funny women. There certainly are a few. It isn’t easy being a woman who’s more piss and vinegar than sugar and spice in a society that still values doe-eyed deference far more than we’d like to admit, and given the choice, I’d much rather laugh than drink, cry and cut myself.

I just hope I won’t be laughing alone.


Breakup 2.0

17 02 2009

Breakups have never been simple affairs. No matter how quickly we try to tear off the Band-Aid, there’s the inevitable period of disentanglement between the initial conversation (“We have to talk…”) and the final separation (“Kthxbye”). And generally, the longer the relationship was, the longer this period lasts. We return each other’s things*; maybe bid farewell to each other’s families; and if you happen to have been living together, well, that’s a whole other fistful of horrible.

But now there’s a new step. In addition to the tears, the drama, the fights over furniture and real estate, there’s the Social Media Separation. It’s hard to end a relationship quietly or privately when the entire saga is played out in news feed updates and little broken-heart icons on Facebook. It’s the electronic equivalent of standing up in front of everyone you know and shouting, “Hi. My relationship failed. Just thought you should know.” And then taking questions.


Of course, there’s often something to be said for public humiliation. Particularly for those tender souls who feel things like “shame” or “remorse,” a good calling-out can be a good way to administer punishment, modify behavior, or just stir up some resentment, if that’s what you’re after. But breakups are hard enough without the digital self-flagellation inherent in social networks.

Really, there is no moving on in the world of social media, or if there is, it isn’t easy. Are you supposed to un-friend your ex? If so, who goes first, the dump-er or the dump-ee? What about friends of theirs who you’ve friended? Do you give them the boot too? Awkward.

How about Twitter? Even if you stop following your ex, you’re still able to see his Twitter feed, and you know that in a moment of weakness, you will go there. Do you really want to see him flirting with other users? Do you want him to see you?

I’m not suggesting that anyone sit digital Shiva for weeks after a relationship ends; We’ve all got lives to live, jobs to do, beers to drink, bad decisions to make, over and over and over again. It’s just that for all the advantages of living in a hyperconnected world, it’s also hard, when all you want to do is disconnect.

*Unless you break up with me via text message. Then I’m giving your shit to the homeless. You know who you are.

I’m back (sort of)

15 02 2009


So apparently I write a blog here or something?

Sorry about the lack of posts lately; I’ve been dealing with some stuff in the past week. We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming soon.

On the bright side, Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish blog on TheAtlantic.com referred to this post on Saturday. Neat!

You will never hate me like I hate me

5 02 2009