Why Do Some Men Think Women Aren’t Funny?

I recently had a guy tell me that he thought I was funny and proceeded to tell me that a lot of guys don’t usually think girls are that funny. It felt like a back-handed compliment like he was trying to say: “you’re funny, for a girl.” It got me thinking, why do some guys believe that as a whole, the male population is just funnier? Why is it that women, who are desired and lusted after, get such a bad rep from men?

To begin, I know plenty of funny women. I don’t think I’ve ever met any guy who is funnier than my best friend. She is hands down one of the few people that can make me cry laughing and, on many occasions, we’ve talked about how in sync we are. She’s quick, witty and can make me laugh just by looking at me a certain way. It takes a special kind of person and a special kind of friend to have that capacity. Surely many men have met a similar woman, one that keeps them on their toes, bounces off their humour and overall just brightens up their life. Surely, men have to recognize that these women exist. My theory is that men don’t look for funny women even if they say that they want one. Men want an audience, not a competition. When men say they want a woman with a “good sense of humour,” what they really mean is that they want someone that will laugh at their jokes and find them funny. Christopher Hitchens tackled the issue in an essay he wrote for Vanity Fair. He argued: “Why are men, taken on average and as a whole, funnier than women? Well, for one thing, they had damn well better be. The chief task in life that a man has to perform is that of impressing the opposite sex, and Mother Nature (as we laughingly call her) is not so kind to men.” Hitchens theorizes that women don’t feel like they need to be funny, since they have the entire male species in the palm of their hands regardless. Well, yes, maybe attractive women don’t feel as much pressure to be as funny, but doesn’t that mean that an attractive man probably feels the same? Attractive people, and I mean the kind of attractive where it makes you think God must really have favourites, are just blessed with the ability to be able to walk in a room and captivate the crowd. I’m sure they don’t need to try as hard, no matter their gender.

There is also something to be said about humour and how it equates to intelligence. Women are often told that men find smart women to be threatening, damaging to their egos and downright unattractive. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to all men, only the insecure ones. If a woman is smart, capable, confident, attractive and funny, what does the man bring to the table? It’s as if some men believe they need to fit a missing piece of the puzzle because otherwise, they wouldn’t feel as needed. Hitchens brings up another interesting point in his essay that I never considered. Men are intimidated by the women’s ability to produce children, something that, no matter how hard they try, will never be able to accomplish. This fact alone puts women in a superior position, and humour has historically been used to mock authority. By essentially trying to “own” humour, men are trying to take back the power. They want something of their own that they can say is biologically theirs. Women will always have the magical ability to give life, and men want to feel like they have something magical to offer as well. Whether it be money, humour or sperm, men want to feel like they have something to provide, something to show for.

Hitchens goes on to say that “male humor prefers the laugh to be at someone’s expense, and understands that life is quite possibly a joke to begin with—and often a joke in extremely poor taste. Whereas women, bless their tender hearts, would prefer that life be fair, and even sweet, rather than the sordid mess it actually is.” Look, a woman can be the sweetest, most empathetic and motherly creature that can still find the humour in disgustingly offensive things. I promise that the two are not mutually exclusive.

The same guy that told me he thought I was funny later on said that he wished I was less funny so he didn’t feel like I was the funnier one in the relationship. There doesn’t appear to be a simple solution to the issue at stake, perhaps we need to start recognizing that men and women are truly not in competition the way some people think. The joy of finding the woman that can make you laugh until your stomach hurts is something that no man should ever let his fragile ego rob him of.

References:

Hitchens, Christopher. “Why Women Aren't Funny.” Vanity Fair, 1 Jan. 2007.