Gender, Humor, and (Im)maturity

“But something like ‘propriety’ kicks in at some point for teenage girls, as part, I think, of the demands that they police their sexuality (that’s what propriety means, right?), and propriety clearly excludes all that gross-out humor and stuff. All that stuff never leaves boys’ culture though! Comedies like the Hangover (sic), or Wedding Crashers, that teenage boys and young men flock to in theaters, are full of the same sorts of silly, gross, ridiculous humor as boys’ cartoons. (I have not read it yet, but I suspect that Halberstam on Dude Where’s My Car would be compatible with this — again, lots of placeholders.) One of the criticisms leveled at BRIDESMAIDS was that the puerile humor of diarrhea and sandwich sex was masculine, so rather than finally having a comedy written by, starring and for women audiences, you get the same old puerile non-romcom humor that movie comedies always have. (The link is to the Spectator (sic) because its anti-feminist perspective is exactly the one that’s relevant here.)

“But what’s more, precisely because the gross-out humor of puerility is so concerned with genitals, puerility ends up being this thing that (straight) boys can embed their sexuality in. So while girls are supposed to be asexual children and then, all of a sudden, sexual but proper women, with any grey area being grounds for huge freakouts and moral panic, boys get to work in the comfortable field of puerility for their whole lives. Puerility seems to provide a sort of scaffold for boys, from childhood to adulthood, where they can build on what they already know. And that means, I think, that there are fewer moments when they or their parents find themselves thinking about being ‘between’ anything, which means that there’s less utility in media and consumer products that are addressing the particular desires of ‘tweens.'”

Tyler Bickford, “Puerile boys and tween girls?”

POSTSCRIPT (10-14-12): “…. Farting, belching, and nose-picking convey a similar failure–or refusal–to restrain the body. While boys and men can make controlled use of such ‘uncontrollable’ bodily functions to rebel against authority, such an avenue of revolt is generally not available to women. But, as (Nancy) Henley suggests (in BODY POLITICS: POWER, SEX AND NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION), ‘if it should ever come into women’s repertoire, it will carry great power, since it directly undermines the sacredness of women’s bodies’ (91).”

Rowe, Kathleen Karlyn. THE UNRULY WOMAN: GENDER AND THE GENRES OF LAUGHTER. Austin: The University of Texas Press, 1995. Print. 64.

  1. via trackback, this from Rowe is great!

  2. Glad it seems to fit!

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