"Women aren't funny." How many times have we heard that? When I hear it now, it's like seeing a laserdisc player. I think, This still exists?
Recently, it wasn't some sexist dummy spewing such nonsense. It was Google. That's right, the thing that tells you that the weird mole on your junk is probably herpes.
My friend Richie sent me a recent article about an ad campaign created for U.N. Women, a United Nations organization dedicated to female empowerment. Using Google's autocomplete function (that's the thing that automatically fills in your search query), the ad campaign shows how gender inequality is still prevalent, despite Beyoncé's efforts.
For example, when you begin to type "Pizza in," Google will automatically add "San Diego" based on a variety of factors. The ads show women of different racial and ethnic backgrounds with a search bar displaying the most common Google results based on what people usually search for.
Here are some of the results the ad shows, and that I got when testing it out:
· Women need to shut up.
· Women need to be put in their place.
· Black women are easy.
· Women aren't funny.
Google's autocomplete function basically provides a snapshot of how backward the world still is with regard to race, ethnicity and women. These are the beepers of gender bias. Women have come a long way, but there's still a lot of work to be done and a lot of assholes, both male and female, making the road to equality difficult.
So, what can I, a Mexican woman who won't shut up or be put in her place, do? I challenge the archaic, sexist attitudes Google tells me are still common with actions. This time, I did it by attempting stand-up comedy.
A huge comedy nerd, I'm often disappointed by the lack of diversity in comedy. Just last week, Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels succumbed to media scrutiny and backlash from his black employees over the lack of diversity on the show and emergency-hired three black women to join the cast and writing team. It's been five years since a black woman was on the show. If no one had protested, who knows how much longer Michaels would have gone before rectifying this gross imbalance.
I won't pretend that my delving into comedy was entirely an act of defiance, though (Women are selfish). I've always wanted to do stand-up because funny people, particularly women, are some of my heroes, and I'm a natural-born bonehead.
Still, I was a nervous wreck the day before I was set to take my first stab at stand-up at Downtown's American Comedy Co. It's no secret that comedy is a total sausage party and that, for the most part, those sausages are white. Even before walking up to the comedy club, I knew that women and minorities would be underrepresented, but that only pushed me more. While I may not be able to challenge a man in a having-a-penis contest, I'm positive I can take on any dude in a having-balls contest. You have dick jokes? Oh, honey, your worst can't beat the hilarious, disgusting things my friends and I say while drinking wine in our stretch pants.
I worked on a three-minute set with the help of my insanely funny friend Michelle and practiced repeatedly, recording myself each time to track my improvement. When open-mic night came, it was, indeed, more lobster than clam, and I was probably one of five people of color there. I stood quietly while the comedians one-upped each other with their jokes while waiting in line to sign up.
We all wrote our names on tickets and placed them in a bucket. Only 25 would be chosen to perform. I nervously sipped a beer surrounded by my amazingly supportive friends and boyfriend, anxiously waiting to hear my name. After an hour of digging my nails into my boyfriend's knee, the time came. I clumsily trampled over his feet as I made my way to the stage. Once I got there, I looked out to the crowd and felt a surge of electricity run through me, and I went for it.
Here are a couple jokes from my set, edited for space:
On my unwillingness to be a gold digger: For the most part, rich men are racist perverts who want to do weird sex stuff. Honestly, there aren't enough yachts or chinchilla bikinis in the world to make me feel OK with a leathery pervert sticking a Coke bottle up my butt while calling me a beaner. Cesar Chavez fought so I didn't have to do that.
On compromising that stance for a guy with a job: With time, I realized money is an important thing to consider when dating. I'm almost 30, and I want to be with someone who has their shit together. When I found someone who did, I was like, ìHoly shit! You have a job with health benefits and a 401k? Here's 50 photos of my vagina filtered to fuck so it looks like the Virgin Mary's pussy pre-Jesus. I am down for whatever for a man that has a job. I will dress up this pussy like Paul Walker and let you wreck it in your car.
I spent that evening hearing mostly white dudes joke about sex, race and the like, and then I did the same, only I'm brown and have a uterus. Some people think "funny" shouldn't have gender or color, but I disagree. Comedy is an incredible opportunity to address issues of race, sexism and culture, especially when coming from someone directly affected by those issues. Women should not shut up; women, black or otherwise, are not easy; women are definitely funny. We've got the dick jokes and balls to prove it.
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also bug her on Twitter.