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Feminism and comedy: the bad news

Right ladies, I won’t lie, the bad news is that Jimmy Carr has been opening his mouth near a microphone again. In this article in today’s Guardian he attempts a defense of one particular instance of his oh-so-dark, so-edgy-it’ll-cut-your-ears-like-a-hungover-barber, like-totally moronic ironic sense of humour. The joke which has rankled Middle Britain to its Daily Express-reading core (and believe me, such an offender would usually be awarded 5-star ally status) is about amputee soldiers making a good paralympics team, a punchline which apparently didn’t translate when some journalists rang the parents of the said soldiers and recited it down the phone. Funny, that. Carr’s defense essentially consists of ‘well I say plenty of other awful things and noone seems to mind’, and ‘I was trying to make people laugh’, the latter being a bit like the designer of the Titanic saying, ‘I was trying to build a ship.’

Carr does say plenty of other awful things, though. And now he’s been taken to task on offending the soldiers upholding his right to say them, the interviewer deigns to question him on another of his favourite jocular hot potatoes: rape. An example of his utter hilarity and rapier wit on this subject: ‘what’s the difference between football and rape? women don’t like football.’  Geddit? Geddit? Do you see what he did there? Yes that’s right – expose himself as a misogynist asshat! Not that the interviewer makes this intergalactic leap, though; he notes that because there are women in the queue for the after-show signing, no harm has been done. And Carr himself is even less troubled: ‘I do a lot of jokes about rape, but it’s not a discourse on rape. I do jokes for laughs.’  Call me a humourless hairy feminazi, but a joke that’s truly funny is one which could be recited by anyone with half a modicum of comic timing to an audience who want to laugh. Any joke where you have to hope a certain set of people aren’t in the room when it’s told is clearly based on somebody’s expense. Now ask yourself how many female comics would ever use that joke, either on stage, or even with friends. Now imagine Jimmy Carr doing that joke at a women’s refuge. Now imagine Jimmy Carr having a reverse-Midas problem whereby every microphone he ever touches melts into some sort of rancid liquid marshmallow and we’ll all be happy.

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Fucking hilarious

Within the riflesight of this instalment of Thank Fuck It’s Feminism Friday is the spoof news site The Daily Mash, in yet another case of me picking a fight with Something I Generally Quite Like. When it isn’t being horrendously derogatory towards women, that is.

It is my firm belief that as long as this article is funny, women will continue to be the oppressed sex class whose degradation is taken as a sine qua non of male validity. You don’t need a degree in Women’s Studies to read from the headline (‘Press Stole My Dignity, Not Gang of Whores Thrashing My Bare Arse, Claims Mosley’) that the joke rests on the shared assumption that there could be few things more degrading than being beaten by a ‘whore’.  Not only does this represent a woman exerting physical power over this hitherto virile man, but also (imagine!) a woman who has the temerity to have had sex with several men, thus violating the sacred law that dictates a woman is the property of one man, to be used as his own personal meatsock. What could be more degrading to the patriarchal psyche than being oppressed by a member of the oppressed class, especially one who has disgraced herself  by proving herself unfit for the purpose assigned to her as exclusive property?

As if that weren’t enough womanhatred, the article goes on (under the guise of humour, remember, so any misogynistic tosspottery is, like, totally edgy or ironic or whatever): “I’d then be strapped to the chair with a pair of very dignified leather thongs before the most respectable of the whores started screaming at me in a well-educated German accent.” That’s right, folks. It’s funny because prostituted women aren’t generally respectable or well-educated! They’re disenfranchised and often living in complete poverty! Can you imagine a privileged woman ever agreeing to something so degrading? The hilarity!

From one article which relies on the degradation of women for its humour to another, this time from the Guardian’s Charlie Brooker. In his defense, Brooker is writing of the ludicrousness of stripping somehow being an empowering thing to do, but it’s very telling that he uses the example of men being forced to strip in order to highlight the absurdity:

Now Sky have gone one better by announcing a show called Credit Crunch Monty..in which a group of jobless men will be “laid bare in every sense as they reveal their background stories and their emotional journeys are captured – from overcoming the setback of unemployment to building up the confidence to perform a striptease”, ie a grand televised performance where you’ll presumably get to see their dicks and balls jiggling about, all empowered and that. Excitingly, it’s also being broadcast in HD, so if you’re still rich enough to afford a sparkly top-of-the-range TV you might just be able to make out the individual hairs bristling on their cringing scrota, thereby empowering them further.

Why is it that to talk of men stripping is to highlight their utter degradation as human beings, yet women who strip or have sex for money or any other nudity-related act can be dismissed as whores and mocked for being the paragon of degradation themselves? Oh wait I forgot, that would be assuming that we think of women as human beings in the first place.

Are you laughing yet?

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