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At Slate, Amanda Marcotte doesn’t want movement feminism to suffer from a few humorless feminists. She writes of the negative response to Nike’s “Gold Digging” t-shirts:
Sadly, there are many in the media constantly on the lookout for any scrap of evidence whatsoever to shore up roughly every negative stereotype about women ever concocted. This means, of course, that they’re eager to pounce on any story about women and especially feminists displaying an utter lack of humor.
A couple of other feminist websites that missed the joke: Shakesville, Miss Representation. And any number of search terms return websites having a conversation over whether or not this shirt is offensive to women. And if these websites generally wrongly assume that feminists would be outraged over the shirt, they could be forgiven given how feminists respond to comedians’ stand up routines or how they respond to scenes in popular movies.
The fact of the matter is that if you get any group of people together, some of them will have been at the end of the line when they were handing out senses of humor. That’s true of dog catchers, ballet dancers, and in-laws; some of them just don’t get humor. That’s also true of feminists; as with every other group, the overly earnest, like humidity, will always be around to make things damp and unpleasant. Holding all of feminism accountable because a small minority of feminists can’t catch an obvious and frankly anti-sexist joke is simply unfair.
That’s a cute argument, but it doesn’t fly. Though Marcotte wants feminism to get credit for ironic anti-patriarchal humor, she wants to delink feminism, the movement, from individual humorless feminists. But it is feminism itself that has set the groundwork for the outrage, wherever it exists, over this shirt. Feminism is partially about limiting what people can say about other people or about limiting what images scan across our eyeballs. In order for feminism to achieve its goal it must be heavy handed in judging what is humor and what isn’t. It is their essential lack of humor that has caused them to be painted as stiff school marm types.