How To Be A Funny Feminist
“I’m really surprised you like the movie Anchorman,” my friend said, raising their eyebrows at me once more while I proclaim that I do, indeed, love lamp. “It’s not a very feminist film.”
As a woman who wants to one day write for comedy, takes comedy seriously, and is an avid fan of comedy TV shows, films, and movies, I’m often told I can’t be a feminist and be funny. “Humor writing is a guys’ world,” people are constantly emphasizing. “You’ve gotta learn to think like a guy.”
Look. I’m well aware that dudes dominate the comedy scene and that I’m fighting a bit of an uphill battle. But does that mean that I’m unable to have a sense of humor?
Let me answer that question for you – no. As a feminist, I can stand up for women’s rights and equality and take a joke. I can distance myself from the issues I am so passionate about in order to have a sense of humor.
I resent the notion that feminists can’t look past their political convictions or are just boring and have sticks up their asses. I appreciate the Hangover, even if there are a disproportionate amount of jokes about poop and penises (the two favorite P topics of the male psyche. AM I RIGHT LADIES?! ba-dum-tss!). The humor of Anchorman is funny to me because I understand that they’re just joking. They don’t really think women are inferior to men, they’re just having some fun with the sexism that used to plague the news.
To me, the biggest comedy injustice today is that female comediennes aren't given more of a chance to flex their chops and expand their horizons in mainstream comedy vehicles, like film or television. There are TONS of hilarious characters that could be based off of female stereotypes, characteristics, and traits without being offensive. The “man-child” heroine in every single comedy is beginning to feel a little old and outdated. Let’s have some ladies grab the reins – more characters like Kristen Schaal in Flight of the Conchords, the genius of Kristen Wiig’s Penelope on Saturday Night Live, or Mindy Kaling’s Kelly Kapoor from The Office.
So how do we get there? How do we, the hilarious feminists of the world, cement our place as rightful heirs to the comedy throne? We’ve begun to break through that “glass ceiling” but there’s still tons of room for growth and improvement. I’ve put together a few simple tips for every female to easily show off their comedy chops – without compromising themselves as feminists.
Laugh. Sometimes people make jokes that, while they may be considered offensive to some, are actually funny. Don’t be afraid to laugh! Some of the greatest comedians of all time have opened our eyes to social injustice by poking fun at it. Lenny Bruce was the first white guy to use the n-word in his routine to show how ridiculous our society’s ingrained racism was; and Mae West used her in-her-face sensuality to shake up our country’s puritan values. But if you sense the joke might come from an uneducated or intolerant place, always combine it with step number two … Educate! The next time a guy jokes around his buddies for you to “go make him a sandwich” joke back. “Oh right, I forgot - a woman’s place is a kitchen. It’s a good thing that feminism thing never caught on, because otherwise women would be educated and equals – but worse yet, men would starve!” Don’t forget to add a hearty laugh and eye-roll at the end. You’ll come off relaxed and cool and the jerk who implied that you belong in the kitchen will feel like an idiot. Be willing to poke fun at yourself. My friends like to chime in with a chorus of “FEMINIST ALERT” every time I do something like fan girl all over Gloria Steinem, talk about the importance of feminist publications, or explain the feminist values inherent in the latest episode of Chuck. If you’re willing to laugh at yourself, people will be more comfortable with your political and personal stances. Don’t be afraid to speak up! How will anyone know how hilarious you are if you never open your mouth? Be witty, be brave, be yourself!
Becka also writes for her own blog, Becka Tells All.
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