tim: "System Status: Degraded" (degraded)
[personal profile] tim
It is often said -- for example, by people who think "South Park" is funny -- that racist, misogynistic, homophobic, sizeist, other "-ist" forms of humor are acceptable if "I make fun of everyone".

But when you make fun of everyone, different groups pay different amounts for your negative or stereotyped comments. If I make fun of my female friend when she talks about how she drove half of I-5 at 50mph by saying "you're such a typical female driver", and make fun of my male friend when he talks about his twelve speeding tickets in the past year by saying "you're such a typical male driver", these insults don't have equal weight, because it's worse to be considered a "typical female driver" (cautious, easily intimidated) than a "typical male driver" (bold, daring). If I throw around stereotypes of black people as crack-addicted welfare recipients and stereotypes of white people as uptight and soulless in the same sentence, I'm not "making fun of everybody equally" -- the effect of my remarks on any black people within earshot will be felt far more strongly than the comfortable in-group joking of me teasing other white people.

Saying that "making fun of everyone" is egalitarian is like saying that a flat tax is fair. Tax rates are based on income because $1000 is a different percentage of your livelihood if you make $5000 a year than if you make $500,000 a year. Likewise, what seems to be the same joke costs a group that's already hated and marginalized more than a group whose privileged status is secure.

Offering to include a naked picture of a guy in your next talk doesn't make including a naked picture of a woman in your software talk acceptable; making fun of your own privileged group doesn't buy you the right to reinforce oppressive discourse.

"Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful. I only aim at the powerful. When satire is aimed at the powerless, it is not only cruel -- it's vulgar." -- Molly Ivins

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Date: 2010-07-22 11:45 pm (UTC)
etb: (disturbing)
From: [personal profile] etb
I think your first example might work better if "competent, experienced, aggressive" were substituted for "bold, daring" (taking the opposite of "incompetent, inexperienced, timid", which I think is the cultural stereotype of female drivers). To me, in the context of driving, being a bold and daring driver = being a dangerous piece of shit, which is not positive at all, and much more negative than being someone who takes a few extra minutes on I-5.
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Tim Chevalier

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