Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Tribute To Christopher Hitchens

 Christopher Hitchens died recently and many writers mourned the death of the man who introduced them to famous people and made them feel important. His alcoholism was celebrated and his death-mongering was feebly regretted. Or was it the other way around? Either way, the world celebrated his intellectual achievements and diamond-cut prose. For example:

Now, why is this? Why is it the case?, I mean. Why are women, who have the whole male world at their mercy, not funny? Please do not pretend not to know what I am talking about.

All right—try it the other way (as the bishop said to the barmaid). 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.
"Hitch" goes on to explain that evolution made men funny but not women. Women do not compete for men, they just stand there looking stunning and men compete for them. Of course this only works if you are stunning; if you are not you do not matter, most especially to "Hitch." After all, who wants a plain woman that nobody will envy you for sleeping with? Ha ha! "Hitch" did not become an elite to sleep with ordinary women!

And if you need proof, a study at Stanford that looked at 10 women's response to a cartoon gave you all the proof you would need.

Slower to get it, more pleased when they do, and swift to locate the unfunny—for this we need the Stanford University School of Medicine? And remember, this is women when confronted with humor. Is it any wonder that they are backward in generating it?

But "Hitch" does allow that some women are funny; ones who are not "real" women.

In any case, my argument doesn't say that there are no decent women comedians. There are more terrible female comedians than there are terrible male comedians, but there are some impressive ladies out there. Most of them, though, when you come to review the situation, are hefty or dykey or Jewish, or some combo of the three. When Roseanne stands up and tells biker jokes and invites people who don't dig her shtick to suck her dick—know what I am saying? And the Sapphic faction may have its own reasons for wanting what I want—the sweet surrender of female laughter. While Jewish humor, boiling as it is with angst and self-deprecation, is almost masculine by definition.

I can see why "Hitch" thinks women are not funny; when you redefine every funny woman out of existance, of course you are left with no funny women. But fear not, "Hitch" gives us lots of more reasons why women are not funny. They don't like to appear smart before men because then men won't want to sleep with them. (Which manages to insult both women and men.) But most (and worse) of all, they have....WOMBS!!

But "child" is the key word. For women, reproduction is, if not the only thing, certainly the main thing. Apart from giving them a very different attitude to filth and embarrassment, it also imbues them with the kind of seriousness and solemnity at which men can only goggle. This womanly seriousness was well caught by Rudyard Kipling in his poem "The Female of the Species."


Men are overawed, not to say terrified, by the ability of women to produce babies. (Asked by a lady intellectual to summarize the differences between the sexes, another bishop responded, "Madam, I cannot conceive.") It gives women an unchallengeable authority. And one of the earliest origins of humor that we know about is its role in the mockery of authority. Irony itself has been called "the glory of slaves." So you could argue that when men get together to be funny and do not expect women to be there, or in on the joke, they are really playing truant and implicitly conceding who is really the boss.

And we all know how powerful women are, how men only seem to be the ones who rule countries and religions and societies. "Hitch" says so, and he has to be really smart because he name-drops Kipling and Mencken and Thurber and Nietzsche all in the same article! And none of them are women, which proves that women aren't funny.

Humor, if we are to be serious about it, arises from the ineluctable fact that we are all born into a losing struggle. Those who risk agony and death to bring children into this fiasco simply can't afford to be too frivolous. (And there just aren't that many episiotomy jokes, even in the male repertoire.) I am certain that this is also partly why, in all cultures, it is females who are the rank-and-file mainstay of religion, which in turn is the official enemy of all humor.... And because fear is the mother of superstition, and because they are partly ruled in any case by the moon and the tides, women also fall more heavily for dreams, for supposedly significant dates like birthdays and anniversaries, for romantic love, crystals and stones, lockets and relics, and other things that men know are fit mainly for mockery and limericks. Good grief! Is there anything less funny than hearing a woman relate a dream she's just had? ("And then Quentin was there somehow. And so were you, in a strange sort of way. And it was all so peaceful." Peaceful?)

For men, it is a tragedy that the two things they prize the most—women and humor—should be so antithetical. But without tragedy there could be no comedy. My beloved said to me, when I told her I was going to have to address this melancholy topic, that I should cheer up because "women get funnier as they get older."

Observation suggests to me that this might indeed be true, but, excuse me, isn't that rather a long time to have to wait?

Happily "Hitch" must wait no longer, what with being dead and no longer anxious to sleep with beautiful but humor-deficient women, who, now that "Hitch" is gone, are getting the last laugh after all.


fish said...

Science, especially evolutionary science, should not be attempted by amateurs. It can only cause harm to both the writer and the reader.

Susan of Texas said...

I wish somebody would have explained all this to me (slowly and carefully because I'm a woman) before I started trying to be funny. I could have saved myself a lot of time and effort.

Ufotofu9 said...

That's the dumbest thing I've ever seen (Hitchens article, not your comments). Seriously.Or maybe the dumbest thing masquerading as intellectualism.

fish said...

I wish somebody would have explained all this to me (slowly and carefully because I'm a woman) before I started trying to be funny. I could have saved myself a lot of time and effort.

Yeah, well at least you have womb power.

Time Served said...

I don't agree with Hitchens' conclusion about women and humor but I will miss his eloquence and iconoclastic writings.
I guess Hitch never listened to Stephanie Miller or Ellen Boozler.

Coldtype said...

For the long and short on this particular subject I highly recommend this 2006 post from former Hitch intimate Dennis Perrin who got to watch the man up close before his post-9/11 hard right turn to respectability.

Anonymous said...

Hitchens was the sound and the fury.

Kathy said...

Sounds like a cynical effort to get lots of comments by writing something "controversial". For a supposedly intelligent person,his arguments weren't very smart, let alone clever & funny.


Kathy said...

... and another thing! He was probably riffing on the popular-for-a-while gag about men having evolved brave strong Hunters who now like football, and women silly, easily distracted Gatherers who like to shop.

Double Bleah.

Pete said...

Perrin informs us that Hitchens asked for and appropriated his knowledge of British comedy. I remember that someone else reported a call begging for information, similarly used, about an obscure midwestern singer trading as "Bob Dylan." Hitchens was a self-promoting hack, and I am delighted to see the reaction to attempts to eulogize him.

Pete said...

Sorry about the double post — no idea how it happened. Do delete if possible, please.

Anonymous said...

Sarah Silverman.

OK, we're done here.

satch said...

I'm wondering if Hitchens was as widely regarded in England as he was here... after all, history has proven time and again that Americans will buy the most unbelievable bullshit imaginable if it's presented in a British accent.*

*See also: Blair, Tony;
Gecko, Geico

Pete said...

Hitch pulled a version of the transatlantic cross-ruff, originated by Raquel Welch (who went to the UK pretending to be a US starlet and returned as one). He combined his increasingly famous British friends and his supposed fame on US TV to score some pretty good gigs back in Britain. But I think he was actually more notorious in the US.

Pete said...

Is Google messing with me?

Susan of Texas said...

Heh. Yes, it is.

Unknown said...

though he isn't a woman, this neal pollack piece captures hitch quite well.