Laurie and Debbie say:
“Aw, come on! It’s just good fun!”
The folks at Keyboard for Blondes claim (and perhaps even believe) that “Don’t take yourself too seriously; don’t forget to have fun” is the motto behind their new product.
Q: Why do i want to buy Keyboard for Blondes?
A: Everyday life can be hard and boring, world may be chaotic and stressful… why not lighten up your or somebody’s day with cool, fun gift that is sure to put a smile on everybody’s face every time they look at it or work on it!
There’s just one problem: they’re wrong.
A little over fifteen years ago now, Debbie learned what “feminists have no sense of humor” really means. She was working in a medical office, with four or five other women. In the first couple of months, each woman in the office came in to her area one by one to tell some kind of horrible story about her history, and each one said, “I know I can tell you this, because you won’t laugh.”
As women, we are so surrounded by inappropriate laughter, and so pressured to engage in it. It’s unbelievably easy to deny the nasty edge behind the laughter, to “join in the fun.” But the nasty edge is there, and it gets sharper when we don’t hear it. Jokes about dumb blondes are jokes about women, the same way that jokes about Jewish mothers are jokes about women (and about Jews).
The dumb blonde stereotype has another ugly aspect; it’s not like we’re supposed to think that women with dark hair (let alone women with dark skin) are smart. Blondes are a little more stupid, or a little more obviously stupid, that’s all. And if a woman happens to be coded as smart, then she’s not sexy or attractive, and no man would want her. To paraphrase the old joke about Newton’s laws of
motionthermodynamics: as women, we can’t win, we can’t break even, and we can’t get out of the game.
Here’s the worst part: Men start these patterns of jokes, and then they use them as tests of women: can I get you to laugh at this one? This one is a little nastier; will you still laugh? What about this one? And sometimes these jokes about blondes, or Jewish mothers, or fat women, are truly funny. And sometimes women will laugh: partly because the joke is funny, but even more because the laughter says “I’m not like them.” I’m not a blonde, I’m not a Jewish mother, I’m not fat … or I am one or more of those things but I’m not like the one in the joke. I’m better than that. As women, we laugh … and we tell and re-tell the jokes ourselves, too.
When the jokes hit an edge where a woman says “That’s not funny!” the teller can always say, “See! I knew you didn’t have a sense of humor.” Meanwhile, we absolutely guarantee that for every joke of this nature there’s a woman (or ten or a hundred women) cringing in a corner, or biting her lip and acting like she isn’t hurting. It’s a very well-crafted trap, and the only way not to fall into it is to refuse to take the bait.
Many thanks to K. Tempest Bradford for the pointer. (And belated thanks to Aahz and Steven for distinguishing between laws of motion and laws of thermodynamics, which we should probably have known without being corrected.)