Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Lesser Cut of Meat Speaks Up

Do you like jokes?  Do you have a sense of humor?  Probably not if you are a feminazi who uses armpit hair to make nets into which innocent misogynists stray, all the while staying straight-faced and glum.

But South Carolina State Senator Thomas Corbin (Republican, of course), he's a guy with a sense of humor!   I may have to explain his humor to those of you who are humor-deficient.

Begin with the context:  South Carolina Senate has only one female Senator, Katrina Shealy.  The rest are guys.  Within that context, Sen. Corbin directs stomach-hurtingly funny jokes of these types at Sen. Shealy:

Indignant at Corbin’s rank sexism, Shealy asked him where he “got off” making such remarks.
“Well, you know God created man first,” a smirking Corbin replied.  “Then he took the rib out of man to make woman.  And you know, a rib is a lesser cut of meat.”
He's a funny guy.  He even apologized for his comments, in the most masterful of ways:

After The State reached out to him for comment, Corbin said he’d stop, even though he claimed Shealy also teased him for being overweight and balding. They were both elected to the state Senate in 2012. “If it bothers her, I’ll quit joking around with her,”
That's what is called a non-apology (bolds are mine).

Then go looking for the excuses for these jokes (in a professional context, mind you), and you will find several, beginning with this:

“He makes comments like that all the time to everybody – including Senator Shealy,” said one legislative aide who spoke to FITS.

Are comments like that insulting jokes or specific sexist comments about women?  Assume it's the former.  Then the excuse is that the guy is just a general asshole, not explicitly just a sexist asshole.  It happens to be the case that his assholiness takes the form of sexism when the target is a woman.  It takes other forms in other cases, right?

Suppose that is true.  There's still a difference making cracks about all women vs. individuals.

 The second excuse is that Sen. Shealy also made jokes about Sen. Corbin's looks:

After The State reached out to him for comment, Corbin said he’d stop, even though he claimed Shealy also teased him for being overweight and balding.
The third one is that everyone laughed and laughed and laughed:

“We were all joking and laughing,” Corbin told The State

There you have it.  It was friends making slightly nasty jokes about friends, having fun while doing it, and if you don't agree you are a humorless asshole yourself.

Humor IS tricky, of course.  What is acceptable between friends who know each other well is a different kind of teasing than what is acceptable in a public setting or between individuals who don't know each other well.  When a joke falls flat the common defenses are exactly those listed above:  You did it, too!  You thought it was funny!  We laughed!  Well, if you can't take humor I'll stop!

But you know what?  It's not stupid jokes which ultimately matter, even when they consist of punching down, even when they consist of pinning the joke on, say,  a history of women's subjugation and the stories we tell about it as something hilarious.   What matters is what the jokes tell about Sen. Corbin, his likelihood for representing the women of South Carolina with proper respect and honesty.  That's what matters.

Incidentally, the way to check the "you have no sense of humor" counterargument is to have a large reservoir of reverse sexist jokes.  Just make a few of those to someone like Sen. Corbin and then accuse him of being a humorless sourpuss when he doesn't laugh.  Which he will not.