ERIC Number: ED318652
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1989-Jun
Reference Count: 0
Continuity and Change: The Cultural Context of Women's Humor.
As a technique of social control intimately associated with the display and control of power, humor reflects empowerment. Contemporary women have few traditions of using power, and a variety of covert factors have discouraged women's use of humor. The most significant of these is the way that the popular mind has defined humor as a male prerogative. Humor can only be achieved through use of symbolic and linguistic codes. Society has not fully recognized how jealously men guard the use of these codes. Because women's participation in humor has been alternately impeded and underestimated, it is important for social scientists and feminists to try to understand the factors responsible. This is not easy, partly because attitudes and beliefs are so deeply held that one may fail to see the very thing at which one is looking. An additional difficulty with humor is that its implicit symbolism enables meaning to coexist on multiple levels. Thus, it remains unclear to the critic whether a particular image or stereotype is being lampooned or upheld. And yet humor, perhaps more than other social measures, is a subtle indicator of the status of a subgroup. When the dominant group is ready to laugh at one's jokes, then one is a member of society. The document includes one table, one figure, and a 36-item bibliography. (JB)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Women's Studies Association (11th, Towson, MD, June 1989).