There is comedy and then there is something trying very hard to be comedy. So-called comedy sketches about ‘What women want?’ falls into the latter category. These aren’t funny and are downright boring and insulting to women.
As entertainment value, ‘What do women want?’ is a joke that is as old as the hills. Tired repeated formulas lack entertainment value after sometime. When lost for comedy content the ‘cherchez la femme’ ploy is the low-hanging fruit. It is as lazy as it is misogynistic.
Making women the butt of comedy as a gender based joke is disrespectful too if it is executed via the use of socially constructed essentialisms. The jokes are built on a premise that women are difficult, mysterious and devious one half of the population who are out to trip the other half up.
The inbuilt exasperation in these ‘jokes’ is meant to elicit empathy from men who are assumed to be suffering from the same affliction as the comedian in trying to understand what it is that women want. These ‘jokes’ are conveyed as being half-truths.
The narrative plays into the patriarchal construct of women being mysterious creatures to be wary of because they possess powers to confuse and confound you. These ‘jokes’ are repeated with an intensity as if a stream of them will eventually result in a key being unearthed that will help men unlock all this mystery.
Over time these ‘jokes’ become layered on top of each other to become so commonplace that any feminist who doesn’t laugh at them is accused of not having a sense of humour. Again, the women bears the fault. First we are so complex that jokes have to be invented to help men cope with us. The least we can do is laugh goes the reasoning. When we don’t laugh we are accused of not having a sense of humour.
The fact that the jokes are unfunny is neither here nor there to the accusers.