Thursday, August 18, 2011

Slutwalk and "Humorless Feminists"

Recently, I was talking to acquaintance about how much I love the internet.

"What do you do on the internet?" he asked.

I said, "I read a lot about feminism."

Cue shocked look. I could see him mentally formulating every interaction we'd had and him trying to reconcile it with the idea of HUMORLESS FEMINIST. To ease his calculations, I added, "Yes. That's right. I'm a humorless feminist."

Where does that idea come from, exactly?

Last night the AAUW (American Association of University Women) hosted a panel discussion called RE: Action - A debate on Slutwalk. Much has been written about the Slutwalks and the original Toronto cop who sparked Slutwalks already, but what struck me about last night was how easy to laugh the panelists and entire room was, even though they were discussing something extremely serious.

Slutwalk itself is tongue in cheek; it takes the Toronto cop's words and shows exactly how ridiculous they are.  Obviously: my short skirt does not tell a person I want to have sex with them. My skirt does not have a louder voice than I do.

Alexandra Petri, who was on the panel, told a joke that I'm going to paraphrase:
A man rapes a woman. Later, she has a job interview with him. They go through the entire interview, but unfortunately, at the end of it, he tells her that she did not get the job.  
The next morning, she shows up bright and early at 9 a.m., ready to work. He is taken aback. "I told you that you didn't get the job!"
"Oh," she said, "I thought that no meant yes."
She said that it was the only rape joke that she'd ever heard that was funny. Well, because its one of the few that focuses on how ridiculous the excuses for rape are. Petri pointed out that all the other jokes about rape are actually very serious and not funny. Prison rape, for example, is something that gets joked about all the time, and that is disturbing.

It reminded me of this clip from Chelsea Peretti:

Feminist Film points out:
Chelsea Peretti’s rape jokes are basically about how she recognizes that there is nothing you can do to realistically prevent rape, but how we’re expected to be really afraid of it all the time anyway.  And she does a really good bro impression 
Rape itself isn't funny: its the excuses, the societal bullshit that is funny. Feminists aren't humorless, they just don't laugh at not funny jokes.

Another panelist, Aiyi'nah "SimplyNay" Ford, was all around hilarious. She explained that she wants to reclaim the word 'slut' because she knows her own power, and those words do not hold power over her. She also explained her swearing habits, which lead her to call people "motherfucking motherfuckers."

RE: Action - A Debate on Slutwalk was on a pretty serious subject, but that does not mean that there cannot be a few life-affirming laughs.

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