I read an article in The Atlantic a day or so ago called: Plight of the Funny Female. It's all about why men don't like funny women. And, you know, something clicked. Really? Could this be the reason for all my dating disasters in my twenties? If I'd just stopped trying to be funny would I have been more desirable to men?
|Staff party 1985. That's not my real nose, by the way. ha.|
According to psychologists, the answer to that question is "yes." In study after study, all other things being equal, men find funny women less than attractive than women who are not funny. Wow. Who knew? I always thought that, other than being smart, and kind, and hard-working, being funny is the best thing you can be.
I come from a family where humor is deeply ingrained, and considered a most desirable trait. We laugh at everything. Quick, witty comebacks are our stock in trade. I still laugh at how my grandfather used to say my uncle, who had super curly hair, looked like he combed his hair with the egg beater. I love that line. Or the night when I was ten or eleven and at the dinner table, referring to my supposed lack of knowledge, my Mum said, "I guess it's time we had that talk about sex." And my older brother, then nineteen, quipped, "Okay, Mum. What do you want to know?" Ha. That line is legendary in my family. Actually, I've probably told you that story before.
And, you see, the women in my family are equally as funny as the men. My grandmother was just as funny as my grandfather. Even if her wit mostly took the form of sarcasm. She had a sharp tongue, my grandmother, but if you could survive the barbs, she was very funny.
My mum is funny. She doesn't always mean to be funny, it just comes out that way. We laughed on the phone today when I talked to her about this post. She says she can't understand why people think she's funny. But they do.
|Mum and my uncle Allie. 1945|
The razor made contact with his scalp, and, almost with a life of its own, it zipped up the entire back of my step-dad's head, creating a two-inch wide, shaved furrow. Like a reverse mohawk. I was horrified. My step-father was sanguine. What's a little hair? He'd be wearing his cap most of the time anyway. "No problem. Just even 'er up, Snooze. That'll be fine." And when I'd evened it up, we couldn't stop laughing at his little shaved furrow. The dangers of having a funny wife, eh?
Some of my closest girlfriends are funny, too
That's my friend Debbie and me, below, getting our picture taken in the photo booth at Zeller's in grade eight. Deb and I have been friends since we started school. Back when we were in our twenties, and single, we shared an apartment, actually a few apartments. Debbie is hilarious. She always makes me laugh. She's way more funny than I am. When we're together I'm always the straight man. I remember back in the early eighties, when we'd hit the Ottawa bars in our high heels and best party wear, Debbie was the queen of the one-liners. The empress of the witty "piss off" comeback to an unwanted come-on from some hapless guy. Come to think of it, no wonder some men are intimidated by funny women. They're dangerous. Ha.
|Debbie and me. Zeller's photo booth, March 1970.|
But, let's go back to Olga Khazan's article in The Atlantic. One of the studies she mentions says that, when quizzed on the qualities they would like in a long-term partner, men and women rate "having a sense of humour" equally high. But on closer investigation, "when asked to define "sense of humour" the sex difference became clear. Women want man who will tell jokes; men want women who will laugh at theirs." Why is that, do you think?
Well, other studies have found that being funny is linked to having a higher intelligence. Statistically speaking, anyway. And according to this study, men are less attracted to women who are smarter then them, finding them "less alluring" than women who are not as smart as they are. So does that mean that men steer clear of funny women, romantically speaking, because they are afraid they are smarter than them? Or do they just fear the witty put down?
And what about the man who actually marries a funny woman?
I'm beginning to think Hubby, who confesses that asking women out used to scare the pants off him, must have been really brave to come and sit beside me in the staff room at Glebe Collegiate that fateful day back in 1984 when we first met. Or maybe I just looked not funny. Or maybe he had enough self-confidence, in areas other than asking women out, to appreciate a woman who tries to be funny. I don't know.
I remember that after we'd chatted over lunch in the staff cafeteria, had coffee in the staff room a few times, I disappeared. Exams had started and there was no need for supply teachers. Hubby called me at home to say that the school clothing I'd ordered for my nieces back home had arrived, so I went into the school to pick it up, and stayed for a coffee in the Phys. Ed office. We were chatting, and when I was telling him a funny story about something, I looked at him, sitting with his feet up on his desk, chair tilted back, laughing so hard his face was getting a bit red, and I thought it was the best sight ever. I love a man who laughs at my stories.
We started dating a week or so later, well after Hubby knew that I thought I was funny, that I loved to tell funny stories, loved the witty comeback. Obviously he didn't think it made me "less alluring." Ha.
Well, I can imagine it, actually. And it makes me shudder and appreciate Hubby all the more.
P.S. About that first photo. When I first started teaching, one man on our small staff used to organize all our get-togethers and this one took place in the big room in the basement where the furnace was. As I recall, the head custodian would not be able to attend because he was on duty, so the organizer brought the party to him. That's why we're all in hard hats... health and safety rules. Ha. As for the Groucho Marx get-up... your guess is as good as mine. I do remember the Alfred Sung suit I was wearing, though. I loved that suit.
Now... how about you folks? Any thoughts? On funny women... or men... or wearing hard hats to a party... or whatever, really.
Linking up this week with Thursday Favourite Things, #fakeittillyoumakeit, Saturday Share Link-up, and Continental Drift.