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Dec 07 2006

Hilarious

In these troubled times widely published male polemicists are often unencumbered by thought (original or otherwise), but are nevertheless paid by popular periodicals to churn the stuff out. When a chap’s had one of those lost weekends and the deadline approacheth, not to worry; he knows he can always fall back on everybody’s favorite, the dudely essay expressing contempt for women. These give universal satisfaction.

Of all the rhetorical ploys used by men in essays written to express contempt for women, one of the hokiest and most dilapidated is the stale old “men are so dumb, women are so smart.” Other versions include: “my wife wears the pants in the family,” “I grovel at the feet of my goddess-like wife,” “Men control the world, but women control the men.”

Now, you take any widely published male polemicist who wants to defend some pet sexist theory he’s cherished since he and the Earl of Winknudge were lads together up at Oxford, slumming at the Bada Bing between cocktail parties for people who subscribe to the New York Review of Books. When the widely published polemicist applies his famous rapier-wit to the pressing issue that men are just so extremely stupid they can’t refrain from imbecilic, juvenile behavior, whereas women are too daintily intelligent to condescend to men’s degraded level, hark! It is a handy warning signal that he has jumped the shark. He is no longer a contributor of any consequence to enlightened discourse, and a concerned family member should buy him a nubby sweater and gently nudge him in the direction of a job teaching 200-level writing courses at some backwoods Christian college.

Coincidentally, widely published polemicist Christopher Hitchens, one of America’s most popular ‘ex-Trotskyites’, Cindy Sheehan-bashers and souses, uses precisely this men = dumb, women = smart gambit in an asinine Vanity Fair fluff piece entitled — and can’t you just picture the anticipatory drool pooling on the editors’ Aubusson carpet as they imagined the delicious hue and cry of today’s Prada-wearin’ ‘feminists’ over this sassy, transgressve un-PCness — “Why Women Aren’t Funny.”

What Hitchens actually writes, using the stupid/smart formula in explaining why men are so much more fucking hilarious than women, is “Wit, after all, is the unfailing symptom of intelligence. Men will laugh at almost anything, often precisely because it is — or they are — extremely stupid. Women aren’t like that.”

There is no reason to refute Hitchens’ “argument”; it reminds me of one of those jokey emails sexist asshole bosses love to circulate around offices (“How many men does it take to open a beer? None! It should be open when she brings it.”). Which is to say, his argument’s so stupid it refutes itself. But of course you’ll be curious, so here are a couple of excerpts:

It begins slipping into insignificance by the second paragraph with “Why are women, who have the whole male world at their mercy, not funny? Please do not pretend not to know what I’m talking about.”

It rounds the bend into hackneyed jagoffery with “As every father knows, the placenta is made up of brain cells, which migrate southward during pregnancy and take the sense of humor along with them.”

It formally relieves itself of any relevance to an even barely sentient audience by the time it gets to “There are more terrible female comedians than there are terrible male comedians, but there are some impressive ladies out there. Most of them, though, when you come to review the situation, are hefty or dykey or Jewish, or some combo of the three.”

I wish I could say that Hitchens, in mistaking useless bong-scrapings for words worth reading, merely failed to debug his joke-writing software when an Eisenhower-era stereotype virus crashed his hard drive, but the truth is, he’s just a fucking knob.

In any event, I mention the Hitchens piece not to ignite some big, obvious “but of course women are funny” discussion, but I do like to take the opportunity of Hitchens’ embarrassment to remind the enlightened blamer that the ‘men = stupid, women = smart’ schtick is dude-code for “what follows is a lot of hilarious misogynist chick-bashing and glorification of our glittering male privilege, but it’s cool because chicks dig it when you pretend you notice their brains at all.”

Forget feminist critique; even by the traditional patriarchy-approved standards of good writing, to which widely published male polemicists ought at least to pretend to adhere, the device is a tired, wheezing cliché with a collapsed lung and a grey complexion.

[Gracias, Kugelmass]

36 comments

1 ping

  1. norbizness

    I disagree with your diagnosis, Dr. Faster.. in this patient’s case, the cliché and its jaundiced progenitor clearly a petrified liver and near-toxic levels of Beefeater in the surrounding tissue.

    I especially enjoy hefty Jewish dyke Margaret Cho. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  2. norbizness

    “…clearly suffer from a…”– sorry, all that talk of Beefeater has led me to partake in an early afternoon cocktail. OK, it was just a shot glass of Listerine with an olive in it.

  3. stacy

    Have been following Heart’s blog fun these past few days and today thought about the power of laughter. If men have actually told us what they fear most and if what they fear most is our laughter, then we oughtta be laughing more — and I mean, point our fingers, laugh out loud, long and hearty kinda laughter. ‘Cause they are funny – in a loathsome, peculiar, wierd-bug kind of way. I am reminded of Dale Spender’s book Nattering on the Net in which she very early on made a strong pitch to women to stop being wimps about the internet and take it over! (I think this was early-mid 90′s).

  4. saltyC

    Hitchens should know funny. He wrote a book about three minutes after Bush invaded Iraq, saying it was a “long short war”, long because it took so long to finally go there and short because it took no time to win. LOL!

  5. cycles

    In any event, I mention the Hitchens piece not to ignite some big, obvious “but of course women are funny” discussion …

    Thank you. It should go without saying that there are plenty of examples of … but then I’d be saying it. Me shush now.

    My favorite part is when he makes the mistake of confusing what imaginary people may say in an offhand conversation with, for lack of a better word, reality.

    However, there is something that you absolutely never hear from a male friend who is hymning his latest (female) love interest: “She’s a real honey, has a life of her own … [interlude for attributes that are none of your business] … and, man, does she ever make ‘em laugh.”

    Perhaps, blockhead, that is because the patriarchy does not value comedy in women, so men don’t name it among a woman’s charms. The imaginary girlfriend could be unbelievably hilarious, but the exemplar above fails to notice it because he’s too focused on his own entitlement to be funnier than her. To admit otherwise would be slightly emasculating which, I’m told, is tantamount to being a Holocaust victim.

  6. saltyC

    It was spelled out in the infamous “The Rules” dating guide a few years ago, about how to make a man fall in love with you: Don’t be a knee-slapper, don’t be a “funny lady”.

    Humor is reserved for humans.

  7. GenderBlank

    Hitchens is fulla shit. There are more terrible male comedians than there are female comedians at all. And most of the “good” male comedians still rely on misogyny and homophobia far too often to get the laugh. Just because people will eat that shit doesn’t mean you should serve it.

    And apparently if one is hefty, dykey, or Jewish, she either ceases to be truly funny or ceases to be a woman at all in Hitchens’ world. I’m two of the three, so I guess I’ve fallen completely off his radar. It’s just as well – he wouldn’t appreciate jokes about the patriarchy, I’m sure.

  8. B. Dagger Lee

    Totally. Give that man a ticket for bloviating while sucking the patriarchy’s cock. That’s dangerous! He could run over someone. Why, he could run over some women and children!

    yrs, BDL

  9. cycles

    Speaking of hefty, dykey and Jewish: can you name any famous mainstream-style sexyhawt male stand-ups for that matter? Generally, you have to be quirky-looking (read: unattractive) to be a successful stand-up. It’s part of the bit.

    The catch is, if you’re a woman in entertainment who becomes famous, you have to work pretty damn hard not to get shoehorned into the glam plastic surgery factory that cranks out sex-receptacle clones for Entertainment Tonight’s red carpet poodles to piss themselves about. When you eventually succumb to the forces that make you an object of sex, your grasp on being an object of comedy loosens.

    When the patriarchy does combine comedy with female beauty (I’m weaning myself off scare-quotes, please bear with me), the laffs come when the woman says or does something genuinely stupid and becomes an object of derision, not when she stimulates your mind. Example: The Simple Life.

  10. danthelawyer

    Hitchens long since became utterly unreadable. Plus, in this case, he’s empirically wrong.

    Apart from that, I hadn’t really thought of the duality in the way you describe before. Thanks.

  11. Aussie Liz

    My father used to do that to my teenaged self – “isn’t it interesting how feminists have no sense of humour”. Then he’d laugh at me when I got apoplectic with rage.

    Reading your essay, full of side-splitters on that very topic, is like having someone jump through the window of that memory and make it dance.

  12. Pinko Punko

    He needs a hammer to his choad. Like getting hit in the neck for him.

  13. antelope

    Well, Twisty is absolutely right that the Hitchens piece wasn’t worth the pixels it was momentarily imprinted upon.

    On the other hand, since she didn’t bother to take it apart herself, we are left with some room to do our own work for a change.

    My favorite part is where he says, effectively, “Yes Jewish women are funny, but it’s a male schtick. Why is it a male schtick? Because it’s funny, and women aren’t funny.”

    He almost got a laugh outta me with that one.

  14. Buttercup

    Could some hefty Jewish dyke just go and kick his ass, please?

    Thanks.

  15. saltyC

    Anyone wanna start a pool on how long before the hitch shoots himself? Look at his career: he went from Trotskyite, Viet Cong supporter, to liberal to neocon imperialist, and now sorry old woman-bashing. What’s left for him?

  16. Sandi

    The fact that women actually ARE funny is a big threat to most guys. I submit for your examination three instances of an occasion when I was hanging out at a female friend’s home, having an uproarious time, only to have her husband say that just maybe we were having “TOO MUCH” fun. This occured just last weekend, when I went to pick my daughter up from a birthday party. I had a fine time talking with the dad about various subjects. But then when I was talking and goofing with the mom, “dad” got all bent and made the same old comment. Of course I glory in my role as the “bad influence”, having my irreverent moments…but really, the uptightedness from the dudes is the biggest joke of all…

  17. CafeSiren

    I hate that “women are smarter than men/what would we do without them” shit. It usually precedes some sort of lame-ass “therefore, you can’t blame us for being assholes because, hey! We’re guys!”

    Faugh.

  18. mearl

    Hitchens got it right somewhere in there when he said that men don’t find witty women attractive, because they don’t like intelligence in females, and don’t want female rivals (too scary). I would add that they are so focussed on toilet humour that they likely don’t get the subtlties of women’s jokes. Or maybe they’re too busy thinking about having sex with whatever woman is cracking jokes, or too busy being horrified at how she hasn’t made herself up to be a male sex toy (the nerve!) to notice that anything is actually coming out of her mouth.

  19. Urban

    “the Earl of Winknudge”. Twisty, you are brilliant. Brilliant.

    The formula Twisty describes reminds me of two things: firstly the common legal drafting technique of giving with the first clause, and then nullifying all benefit using follow-up (sub)clauses, and secondly, the age-old “I’m not a racist, but…[insert racist bullshit here]“, Same faeces, different day.

  20. saltyC

    who was it that said a man’s worst fear is that a woman might laugh at him?

  21. CafeSiren

    I remember hearing this, saltyC. Unfortunately, I think the second half of that goes: “…and women fear that men will kill them.”

  22. Kugelmass

    Cheers, Twisty. Glad to have thrown something blameworthy your way. It’s absolutely true that the “right to be a Neanderthal” is another form of privilege, one that concedes nothing. Good for you for making the larger point.

  23. deciduousfruit

    man, I poured my heart and soul into 15 minutes of compelling argument and carefully documented research about feminisms and women’s movements in the Middle East and North Africa… only to be met by silence! not a single question, eyes as glassy as lambs to the slaughter. I can’t be sure that my point was entirely missed, but I’ve nonetheless taken recourse, in my despair, in the solace of a 2001 Chianti Classico.

  24. Pinko Punko

    mearl,

    please, throw in a “many” or a “some” to your statement and I’ll all set to agree.

  25. scratchy888

    And the really sad thing about the males who need to collectivise their opinions, forming a consensus about their feelings, in order to get money/get popular/get social power is that there’s very little, in the traditional symbolic sense, masculine about this behaviour. Current mens movements all seem to me to be knitting circle stuff, with the occasional grunt or oomph to act as a smokescreen. This comedian is not different from that psychological trend. Where is the writer with the truly original thought? Where is the male who has such a good understanding of himself that he doesn’t need to compare himself to the women? What has happened to the rugged individual?

  26. darkymac

    Ex-Trots with the dts and no muse: can’t laugh with’m; can’t laugh without’m.

    Does my brain look big in this?

  27. Mar Iguana

    saltyC and CafeSiren, I believe it was Margaret Atwood.

  28. FamousSovietAthlete

    Hitchen says, “While Jewish humor, boiling as it is with angst and self-deprecation, is almost masculine by definition.”

    Right, sure, because women never boil with angst and self-deprecation. This leads me to the logical conclusion that there are no Jewish women, as women don’t boil.

    Boil?

  29. Ron Sullivan

    Back when he was posing as a lefty, this mitten wrote a column in The Nation that suggested his solution to athe Ab@rtion Question: “We” draft men to join the army, so “we” — “society” was the inflatable condom he pulled over that one, IIRC — can and should draft pregnant women to carry to term. He might have followed that with some mumbling about awarding the resulting children to deserving couples, but it was an afterthought, if we pretend the rest qualifies as a thought to be after.

    And then, the gossip goes, he maxed out his wife’s credit card to pay for his girlfriend’s aborton.

    Never mind sexbotulism: the reason women wear makeup is for the plaster effect when we need to keep a straight face. The older I get the more time I spend suppressing guffaws, if only to keep from swerving into some muddy slough when I’m driving.

  30. saltyC

    It’s pathetically easy to make a male laugh. Just say something about getting hit in the balls, that gets em every time.

    I never understood why that’s funny.

  31. Hawise

    I don’t know about the sense of humour thing but I do know that if a man says something and you double over in laughter, tears running down your face and chortling “you actually believe that!” over and over, he will not be amused.

  32. norbizness

    Salty: Especially if it’s a movie with George C. Scott getting hit in the balls with a football, because his overacting scream is priceless.

  33. johnieb

    I, too, enjooyed the “Earl of Winknudge.”

    As to Hitchens, I would be thankful for the recommendation to avoid the article, but I gave up reading his boil-brained slop some time ago.

  34. johnieb

    I must quit spraying the keys with syrup, apparently.

  35. goodyproctor

    This is my favorite part:

    “Funny? He wouldn’t know a joke if it came served on a bed of lettuce with sauce béarnaise.”

    Oh snap, Hitch! The man is CLEARLY not a dubious authority on humor and CLEARLY hasn’t been sweating hooch for the past eighty years.

    This is my first comment in this forum, but I have been giddily lurking for months.

  36. Naomi

    This has just re-inforced advice I always gave to the women I was training to be truck drivers: We don’t have the strength to do some of things that the men do. So–we just have to study the problem to see a different solution. Men force things; women finesse them. I call all men “graduates of the School of the Bigger Hammer”!

    My trainees were more successful than women who trained by a man. (*smugly polishes nails on vest*)

    Naomi

  1. And the name of the album at Three Bulls!

    [...] was Critical Beatdown. Twisty Faster is Kaopectate for your Hitch(ens) sitchens. [...]

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