"…I started receiving messages from people (mainly men) suggesting that to use humour as a means of communicating feminist ideas was to belittle the severity and importance of the cause. The tone of my response, it seemed, was not angry or serious enough for them. And this is a common charge levelled at feminists – that they are being TOO FUN and should put on a frown and get on with the proper business of being the shrieking harpies they’ve so often been painted as.
There are two problems with this. The first is that it plays into the tired stereotypical notion that to be a feminist is to be angry, when in fact being a feminist just means believing that men and women should be treated equally. Realising just how unequal they are, however, is enough to piss anyone off. But the fact that some feminists do sometimes get angry doesn’t set them apart from anyone else in the general population, statistically speaking, and given the level of abuse they face, they’ve probably got more reason for it than most.
The second point is perhaps even more important. Every feminist should have the right to convey their message through whatever medium they choose, whether it be academic articles, performance art, short films or gut-wrenchingly funny jokes. I’ve never understood the stern Dworkin quote that has been adopted in so many social media bios: “Feminist: NOT the fun kind” (emphasis mine). Surely each method, from feminist literature to feminist standup, is likely to resonate with and engage a different audience (with some overlap of course), and don’t we need all the support we can get?
The strongest argument in favour of feminist humour, though, is the enormous effect to which it can be used. Laughing at a problem doesn’t just mean avoiding or belittling it – it can be one of the most powerful and effective ways to expose and tackle it. Since I started the Everyday Sexism Project, I’ve seen hundreds of women and men perfectly demonstrate humour’s ability to debunk sexism. Here are a few of my favourites…
“Once had a guy ask: ‘Would you mind telling me your bra-size?’ I replied: ‘No, but tell me first how big your cock is!’ Amazingly he was shocked and found MY comment highly inappropriate.”
"Apparently the answer to ‘Are you a legs or tits man’ is not ‘Sorry I’m not a sexist’."
"I was walking to college when a group of thirtysomething men approached me. One of them asked me: ‘Is it true you can get an orgasm from riding a bike?’ (I wasn’t even riding one.) I replied: ‘I’m more likely to get an orgasm from a bike than you.’ His friends all laughed at him as I walked away."
"Guy at work used to think it was OK to only ever address me as big boobs. ‘Morning big boobs’ etc. I started addressing him as ‘small penis’ – he soon realised that maybe saying ‘Morning, Kate’ would be a better way to address me."
"Tired of cold callers asking to speak to the ‘man of the house’, I now I put them on to my six-year old son … he sings them ‘Sexy and I Know It’."
"Guy on bus: ‘Do you know where the Playboy club is?’ Me: ‘Sure, it’s the next stop.’ That 25-minute walk’ll learn him. #haHA"
"Dear guy I caught jacking off in your car while staring at me on the sidewalk, please enjoy the giant dent in your door.""
honestly i just need a pokemon to protect me from the patriarchy