Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Humor and Gender

I’m an equal-opportunity hater, I guess, because a couple of days ago, I linked to a Cracked article that I agreed with and said so. 

Today?  Not so much. 

This article, about why we don’t find women to be as funny as men (a premise that I don’t necessarily agree with to start off, because I think many women are funny as hell, just in a different way than men) starts from so many false premises and incorrect assumptions that it is truly startling that the author didn’t see it. 

From the first point made, the author assumes that the reason that young boys tell more jokes, and are more often the class clown than young girls is because we “train” young girls to not be funny, not tell jokes, and not be the class clown, while we encourage that behavior in boys.  Of course, no evidence to this effect is presented; it is just assumed that because there is an actual difference, and because feminism requires that we don’t insinuate that there may be reasons other than social conditioning to explain it, that the explanation is obviously social conditioning.  The author never once stops to consider that this difference may occur simply because little boys and little girls are different on more than a physical level. 

Certainly, we can’t consider such nonsense, right?!  Everyone knows that boys and girls are exactly the same in every way, except for the ways society teaches them to be different!  Misogynist!

Except that they aren’t the same.  Not by a long shot.  The survival of our species absolutely depends on them not being the same, and to ignore the fact that there may be a genetic, evolutionary explanation for the “humor gap” between boys and girls ignores the fact that evolutionarily speaking, there must be one. 

I know that I’m treading thin ice here; that isn’t acceptable neo-feminist thinking, is it?  We aren’t allowed to consider the fact that women and men are different on any level other than the socially-conditioned level.  You know, the “patriarchy,” making women the weaker sex for eons because men suck and are evil and want to subjugate women and such. 

No discussion allowed about why a sex that is equal on every level would allow itself to be “subjugated” for so many eons, though.  Don’t even bring that up.  That’s grounds for public castration.

As if women were “subjugated” in general practice in western society, anyway.  Yes, they held different roles, but “different” does not mean “less.”  This is where so many people go off the rails  when discussing both gender and race. 

When the men marched off to war, for instance, and were slit, split, slashed, and flayed; dying in the bloody mud, in order to protect the women of their society (who weren’t required to do these things), one wonders how subjugated the women felt.  When women were watching the kids and gathering berries, and the men were off engaging in mortal combat with a fucking wooly mammoth using nothing sharpened sticks, one wonders how subjugated they felt.

When you start an article from the premise that boys get to do whatever they want, while women are forced into a burdensome gender role right off the bat, you start from an incorrect premise.  Men were froced into their roles, too, even more forcefully than women ever were.  A man who didn’t want to go to war went anyway, because he was a man.  His gender role required him to kill or be killed in order to protect his offspring.  Such has been the way of it for the entire history of mankind.  Each gender filled out the role that their unique abilities caused them to fit best, and for the benefit of the group or tribe, they were damn well expected to fill that role.

The reason for this is because men and women are different, not only physically, but mentally and psychologically.  There is no arguing against this point.  If you believe in evolution, then you absolutely have to believe this, because the survival and success of our species proves it. 

Given the different sociological, psychological, and resource-driven requirements of reproduction between males and females, why is it so hard to believe that women and men have different requirements in the reproductive game?  If you believe that (and let’s see, how could you not, given that women get pregnant and give birth and breastfeed, whereas men’s entire investment in a reproduction, should he so choose, is about 5 minutes of effort and a warm squishy feeling), then you have to believe that there are differences that run deeper than the skin or the genitalia. 

Or would you like to eliminate men’s and women’s professional sports, and just lump them all in together?  Even in feminine sports like figure skating, you’d see the last of the professional women’s athletes if you did that, because the men would dominate.  There are differences.  You cannot ignore that. 

So here’s the deal, feminists.  I know you aren’t going to like what I’m about to say, but I’m going to put it out for you to chew on here, and you tell me how wrong I am after:

Men are evolutionarily wired to be funny.  They are wired to more easily develop camaraderie, and create closer bonds with others, than women are.  They had to become this, because their lives and fortunes depended on the man standing beside them.  It was his spear that might kill the mammoth that is about to trample him some day, or skewer the enemy soldier who was about to kill him, and that man will be more likely to try harder and even risk his life to save yours if he is your friend.  Men did dangerous things.  They did this because it made sense evolutionarily.  Men are more expendable than women, because a woman’s ability to reproduce is limited to maybe five to ten babies in her life, where one man can sire hundreds of babies.  It is easier for a tribe to absorb the loss of a male, and so males evolved to do the things that were likely to get them killed.  They got stronger, faster, and more aggressive, and since these dangerous tasks required the help of other men to get them done, men are more predisposed to telling jokes around the campfire late at night in order to maintain and strengthen these necessary bonds.  Other men were not so much competition to a man, and so evolution favored men who were funny and genial, as well as capable and strong.  In fact, I think it was often an “either/or” premise, where the weaker men would make up for their physical lack of strength by becoming more valuable to the others by being fun to be around.  This, I think, is why you don’t see very many strong, powerful, athletic comedians, even today.

Women, on the other hand, are evolutionarily wired to see most other women as competition.  Her man, back in the day, would be disposed to promiscuity, and if he invested in another woman by having children with her, too, then his resources would be split between them both.  Any resources that went to other women and their children, would not go to her and her children.  While gathering roots and picking berries, whatever the other women picked, she generally did not get.  The friendship bonds that she creates would be with a few, and they would be tight, because the benefit of friendship that a woman gets is to have someone to share child rearing duties with; someone to watch the kid while she dug roots and gathered berries.  It was beneficial to create an “us vs. them” dynamic within that group, so that she would not lose her friend to other groups, and hence, the woman’s predilection to gossip and back-biting between groups. 

It is for this reason that we still see women generally having smaller groups of friends, with a few with very tight bonds, that gossip about other women for fun, while men generally have much larger groups of friends, generally with all of them being similar in closeness, and when they get together for fun, they drink, tell jokes, and fart on each other. 

If you look at the comics of today, you see a wide range of comedy types coming from male comics.  Some are innocent, some dirty, and some nasty.  Most women comics, however, base their routines on the shock value of being nasty.  I can’t think of very many that don’t.  Ellen, maybe, but a person could argue pretty handily that she’s wired more like a man than a woman. 

I know that to many of you, even to the non-feminists out there that have bought into the prevailing narrative, this will all be offensive.  However, I think if you ruminate on it hard enough, you’ll see that I’m right.  It will be a hard thing to accept, because you’ve been told your entire life that you’re not allowed to think such things, but the fact is, evolution does not care about political correctness.

Women are less funny than men because they are wired to be so.  It has nothing to do with societal conditioning, and everything to do with evolutionary game. 

One of these days, we’re going to get past this “different must mean better/worse” and accept the fact that differences don’t necessarily mean that one is better and one is worse.  It is fallacious thinking.  Our species needs both genders, filling out both gender roles, and to lose either one would result in ruin.  I think our society has reached  point where we can give individuals the choice of which role they want to fill, and to be honest, our “patriarchy” has always made room for great women (Joan of Arc, Marie Currie, etc.) when they rose to the top of the pile.  Great women were always allowed to cross gender boundaries.  It was generally the men who wanted to cross gender boundaries who were shunned and ridiculed.  We have room for that now, so we should be okay with it happening.  What I’m not okay with, however, is refusal to admit the truth.  A woman that wants to try out for men’s basketball needs to understand that it isn’t societally-induced conditioning that causes her to fail, it is her sex that makes her less physically capable than the men she’s up against.  This is the truth, whether you like it or not.  

1 comment:

  1. I tend to chuckle at the idea of the 'subjugated woman', because the stories I know don't bear that out. When you take enough anecdotes, it begins to look like the only people that REALLY believe women were EVER subjugated are certain clergy who categorically didn't deal with them and modern feminists. My own family history is filled with strong willed women, my wife's history even more so. A quick spin through enduring literature reveals plenty of firecrackers, from Dickensian urchins, to Rosalind in the forest, Lady MacBeth, to Elizabeth Bennett and beyond. Women of will, and strength, and drive are not some new developement, freed from the bonds of the Patriarchality. They've always been here, right alongside us, and I'm pretty damn confident they've always been sought after.