A Feminist Sets It Straight
“I was a musical virgin until now,” quipped the eccentric, silver haired woman on stage.
“Have you ever heard the song ‘My Neck, My Back’?” she asked the audience. “I played it for a friend of mine, and her 16-year-old daughter yelled at me, ‘You can’t play that for my mother!’”
There was no silver bell tinkling laughter from the women in CCSU’s Alumni Hall; there were bold, thunderous shrieks and wails.
“Silver bell tinkling laughter happens when we’re around men,” Regina Barreca, author of “Babes In Boyland” and “I’m With Stupid” explained.
Acting out a man who had a terrible, absurd joke to tell, she then switched roles to the woman being forced to listen. Out of her mouth came a squeaky laugh that Disney princesses perfected.
Barreca, a professor of English and feminist theory at the University of Connecticut, is dedicated to focusing on women’s trials and tribulations, yet she fails in coming off too feminist. Barreca combines her wit and knowledge into a comedy routine that can make the most uptight woman or impossible man unravel.
“Real laughter from women has a slightly less feminine sound,” Barreca said. “Some definite signs are bust holding, mascara wiping, and the exclamation, ‘Don’t make me pee my pants!’”
Her topic of the afternoon was exploring women and comedy; how men find it difficult to believe that the opposite sex has a sense of humor. For 20 years, Barreca has investigated why men don’t find women humorous. Narrowing it down to three reasons, she showcased ridiculous pop culture references that, while men find them funny, women are turned off and reject them completely.
“Women don’t like the ‘Three Stooges’, the fart scene in Blazing Saddles, or Jackass: the Movie,” she said.
Mentioning the scene in Jackass when one of the men is walking over an alligator pit with a Perdue chicken in his pants, Barreca asked, “Can you imagine a woman putting chicken fingers in her brassiere? No, women don’t do it.”
While some women might contest to actually enjoying atypical male-driven antics, realistically it is because they want to be ‘one of the guys.’ There is nothing wrong in this, but women need to understand that enjoying it doesn’t automatically make them a hit at the water cooler.
“Men torture each other,” she said. “Women nurture. We don’t insult other women; we compliment each other. Then we explain why the other is wrong for complimenting us.”
Barreca explained how making things up is unnecessary in our everyday lives that are filled to the brim with hilarious anecdotes.
“Women make a story about everything,” she said nonchalantly. “We don’t tell jokes, we’re not genetically inclined. Women being forced to be funny is like cross-dressing.”
“We’re lying and being disingenuous to ourselves,” Barreca said, singling out her gender in the audience. “We try to minimize; we tend to think we’re too much.”
To be meek and modest is not in Barreca’s profession. When interviewed recently by BBC about the global economy, Barreca’s solution was simple: “Allow middle-aged women to spend money on clothes that fit them!” she said as a matter-offactly. “That will bring a flood of liquidity back into the market.”
A side note that sent the audience into a fit of gender seperation was the accusation that women can’t handle money.
“I googled ‘men can’t handle money’, but it just comes up with how women can’t,” Barreca said. “Haven’t we seen the former evident in the economy currently?”
Diverting her animated character into another story, Barreca spoke of an interesting moment in her life when she tried something just to have a comical story to tell. Living in London for two years when she was a young adult, Barreca was a freelancer, and had an attractive British boyfriend in tow. She was approached to be a contestant on a television show called “Mastermind”.
“’We’ve never had an American on before,’ they told me. ‘You’ll make a fool of yourself,’ my boyfriend contested. I accepted.” Barreca said. As they fired questions at a young Barreca, she realized she didn’t know the answers, and would utter ‘pass’ after each.
“They were watching this American girl setting herself on fire,” she told Alumni Hall. Sensing how uncomfortable it was, the show’s host switched subjects and asked, “What animal is a guppy?” “It’s a fish!” Barreca yelled at the top of her voice, and the crowd went wild; she said little old English ladies approached her in the supermarket the next day, fawning over her television appearance.
As embarrassing, awkward, or odd it may have been, Barreca wanted to reach out to the audience to urge them to do anything and everything; that life is just a series of hilarious anecdotes and situations. “It’s a story,” Barreca said. “Do it. Go out.”
-Karyn Danforth, Lifestyles Editor: firstname.lastname@example.org