It may not have escaped your notice that over at Comment is Free there has, of late, I know not where (sorry, that's Hamlet)....been quite a lot of what we might call - let's go for something approaching neutrality here - people making noisy noise about misandry. First there was the whole Tom Martin brouhaha, here and here (see also Sian of the Not-Straight Ribs here). And then Ellie Mae O'Hagan wrote a great piece last Thursday about the now infamously withdrawn Topman T-shirts, the ones that compared women to dogs (she's a bitch, geddit?), or gave a jaunty recitation of excuses for domestic violence. They're fucking hilarious. Given the apparent mood of the times, Ellie's credulity un-stretching assertion that the T-shirts indicate a disturbing normalization of misogyny met with a fairly predictable response.
First off there was the whole, crushingly depressing "it's just a T-shirt - jeez, don't you people with vaginas understand jokes"-fandango. To which I'll say what I've said before and suspect I will say many many times again:
1) 'Joke' and 'politically significant' are not mutually exclusive concepts...in fact, quite the opposite...humour can be used to subvert political oppression (hats off to you Mister Colbert) or to normalize it (thanks again Mister Hill). Comedy, is, in short, one of the most effective political weapons we have, and using it doesn't exempt you from an iota of political responsibility. Not a single drop.
2) I'm sick to the back teeth and half way down my oesophagus of the raggedy old 'women not having a sense of humour'-thing. First. Please. Get a new line. Second, we have a sense of humour. If we didn't have a sense of humour - living in this rampantly capitalist patriarchial ecologically-suicidal car-crash of a society - we'd have a hard job getting up in the morning and getting on with the business of working, and looking out for ourselves and trying to care for other people. The reason why we don't find this funny is not because the deity of humourless-bitches surgically removed our funny bones at birth but because:
3) Violence isn't funny. And nor is comparing people to animals. And violence and comparing people to animals at the same time. That never goes anywhere good.