2013 Oscars: A Few Thoughts About Gender and What’s NOT Funny

I have been quite surprised by the amount of serious debate and discussion that has been sparked by something as light and fluffy as the Oscars. Who knew that this annual glitter fest would ignite so much passion about gender inequity? When a friend posted this thoughtful article, it resonated with me. I re-posted said article and have been gratefully surprised by the conversation that have ensued…the personal realizations that have resulted. So…here are my thoughts…

While the old adage: “It’s funny because it’s TRUE!” may accurately describe many topics, there are so many issues that I have difficulty thinking of as “funny.” For example, I think I’d be hard pressed to laugh at any joke about starving children, rape, or genocide. Some of life’s truths are just too painful to be funny. Thanks to the thoughtful discussions prompted by Seth MacFarlane’s performance at the Oscars this week, I think I will be adding “misogyny” to the list of topics that I personally find very unfunny.

First, let me state that I DON’T hate Seth MacFarlane. I think “Family Guy” is nothing short of genius. Having said this…I DON’T think that his jokes about women’s breasts, mistreatment by boyfriends, eating disorders, and men dating inappropriately young girls were funny or appropriate. I think these things very sadly represent how devalued women STILL are in many segments of our society.

Because I grew up in a home where women where shushed when the game was on, where I was told over and over that only men should be in positions of authority–it’s hard for me not to take stuff like this to heart. I spent too much of my life struggling to find my worth, to believe that I deserve equality and respect. So I apologize if I’m just not able to “lighten up” and laugh along on this particular occasion.

As the mother of two boys, I take very seriously my responsibility to teach them that women are humans with hearts and brains to be valued rather than empty vessels to be objectified. There are many things in the world that are TRUE but (at least in my opinion) are NOT funny. I guess the objectification of women and jokes about said objectification are categorized–at least in MY brain–as “NOT FUNNY.” Because I believe in democracy, it’s truly OK with me if others don’t share my opinion. I fully recognize that my reaction is coming from a very deep personal place. I hope that those who don’t agree can see where I’m coming from and perhaps even believe that my perspective is legitimate–even if they don’t happen to share it.

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