Women, War, And Other Big Jokes (Naomi Weisstein) Women, War, And Other Big Jokes (Naomi Weisstein)

Women, War, And Other Big Jokes (Naomi Weisstein‪)‬

Studies in the Humanities 2006, June, 33, 1

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Description de l’éditeur

In the early 1970s, with the surge of Second Wave feminism rising, the women's movement in the U. S. was by any measure an important force. Not the least of its accomplishments was its ability to generate new communities, new publications, and even new forms of address, all of these feats summed up in the establishment of the successful mass-market periodical titled Ms. Yet within a year of the magazine's founding in 1972, one contributor, Naomi Weisstein, insisted that a truly serious analysis of feminist progress would have to take into account the status of women's relationship to the comic. Writing for the November 1973 issue, Weisstein, a neuroscientist and professor of psychology who was also a civil-rights and feminist activist, looked at the state of women's comedy, and she despaired. Where were the inspiring examples of what she called "women's fighting humor" (Weisstein, "Why" 139)--of "people fighting back, retaining their dignity" and ridiculing "those who oppressed them" that she found in abundance within the masculine traditions of Black and Jewish culture? (135). Everywhere she turned, there were media representations, especially in advertising, of women laughing and smiling, but these were images of acquiescence and submission. Where instead were the instances of "independent, mocking humor" exercised actively at the expense of "the objectified role" that women "were meant to fill"? (137). These, said Weisstein, were nowhere in sight, and without them, women remained enchained by "the shackles of self-ridicule, self-abnegation," shut out from their full "rights to self-expression and collective enjoyment" (139). Yet Weisstein claimed to see reason for hope. If women had not managed to overcome the "extraordinary obstacles to the development of a women's fighting humor" or to the "public presentation of such a humor," they had at least made a start (139). They had stopped pretending to find their own subordination funny, as the very title of her essay, "Why We Aren't Laughing ... Any More," (ellipses in original) made clear. Answering male journalists, critics, and colleagues who complained that "You women can no longer take a joke," Weisstein pointed out the political function of such joking, which served "as a weapon in the social arsenal constructed to maintain caste, class, race, and sex inequalities" through "ridicule of the powerless" (133). Her explanation for why women with newly raised consciousnesses refused to collaborate with misogynist joke tellers came in language far from the neutral tones of academia:

GENRE
Ouvrages de référence
SORTIE
2006
1 juin
LANGUE
EN
Anglais
LONGUEUR
24
Pages
ÉDITIONS
Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Department of English
TAILLE
349,9
Ko

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