Reader Response Essay
January 26, 2011
Why Aren’t Women Funny?
In his Vanity Fair essay, “Why Women Aren’t Funny” (2007), author Christopher Hitchens purports that women are not as funny as men because they don’t have to be; that men must be funny in order to attract women, but women don’t need to be humorous to be appealing to men because they are already alluring by simply being women.
In the essay, Hitchens comes off as quite the chauvinist at times (and maybe a bit anti Semitic), inflaming many the feminist with comments like “(the most impressive female comedians) are hefty or dykey or Jewish, or some combo of the three.” While most of the article is somewhat thought provoking and even humorous at times, perhaps Mr. Hitchens could have gotten his point across in a more tactful manner by leaving the misogynistic rhetoric out of the piece. On the other hand, controversial remarks and inflammatory comments are often a part of Hitchens’ repertoire.
Hidden away in his rhetoric is a deep respect that Hitchens has for women. It comes to light in his recitation of Kipling’s poem. It comes out when he talks about the “unchallengeable authority” given to women by being the child bearers. It is evidenced in his comparison of men to the slave’s “ancient annual festivities of Saturnalia” where the slaves would play master; men pretending that we are the masters over our women in our “subversive male humor”. In no place is it more evident than his comments regarding childbirth and the potential loss of a child. Hitchens says, “Those who risk agony and death to bring children into this fiasco simply can't afford to be too frivolous”.
I couldn’t agree with him more. The thought of bearing a child and the constant threats posed to that child are things that we males rarely ever think about. We are much too busy making burp and fart jokes while drinking beer in the garage to concern ourselves with such...