Funny and female
Lily is shocked at just how fast her first year at York University has gone. Now, as she embarks on life as a second year Politics, Philosophy and Economic student, it's time to buckle down - but that doesn't mean she'll be having any less fun!
An outing to a comedy club leaves Lily thinking about some of the prejudices that she might have to face around campus and makes it her personal goal to change female stereotypes.
A while ago I went to a student union comedy night. I don't have high expectations of this kind of thing; student-written comedy is hit and miss to say the least, but they have up-and-coming professional comedians so it's normally a good night out. That week, however, was an all-female line up as part of women's week. The turnout was appalling, which was depressing, but to be fair it wasn't nearly as funny as the usually all (or at least predominantly) male shows.
Afterwards I was the first to joke about the fact that the women weren't as funny, which we all found amusing. My male companions' laughter went some way to proving that women don't have to be inherently unfunny. But really, the whole show was pretty cringe-worthy. It wasn't back-to-back period jokes, but vaginas were mentioned more than once and the comedic highlights were mainly from the male host introducing each act. Do women have to resort to joking about their genitals to be noticed as much as male comedians? My friend jokingly offered me the cruel ultimatum; if I was funny (which he was suggesting I was) then I was clearly a man. If I wanted to maintain my femininity, I was going to have to stick to sincerity.
It got me thinking about the stereotypes facing me as I eventually head into the workplace, but more immediately around campus. Don't get me wrong, I haven't been sobbing into my knitting about my entirely un-hilarious prospects, but there is certainly cause for thought. Most professions, comedy included, are seeing a rise in female success stories, but isn't it about getting the right balance? Professional females shouldn't have to be power-hungry corporate skirts, all legs and womanly wiles achieving abnormal success. It's about time women could be average workers, somewhere between desperate housewife and power-crazed psycho bitch.
"Professional females shouldn't have to be power-hungry corporate skirts, all legs and womanly wiles achieving abnormal success."
On my politics course, which is dominated by men, political theory and philosophy is the most 'manly' module choice. Us girls tend to choose more 'real' current politics modules, which goes to show that female students want to establish themselves as serious and able to make a difference. With my head still stuck into books, or a little further from reality, I'm finding myself in the musky world of political philosophy. I refuse to be intimidated by the pomp and grandeur of Hobbes and his fellows. Give me a whisky and a smoking jacket and I'll prove that I know just as many long words as 'Johnny public school' next to me, and yet for being this way I'll become queen bitch. I get so incredibly bored of being seen this way, but I know from experience that a let up in the bitch act will mean many a boy taking the opportunity to walk all over you.
One philosophy student was the bane of my first year seminars. It took a while for me to pluck up the courage to contribute during class and I felt like I was a fraud who didn't know as much as the others. As I became more confident he was always there to smack me back down in my place. He interrupted nearly everything I said just to do me the 'favour' of explaining my point, like I couldn't do that myself. It drove me mad and the only reason for his behaviour, as far as I could see, is that I'm a lowly female. He spent his time interrupting the boys, but only to contradict their points and engage in arguments with them. I clearly wasn't worth engaging with, nor was the other girl in our seminar. Although she only said 10 words in as many weeks. I occasionally see him on campus. We smile at each other. He held a door open for me once and I nearly curtsied. Smug git!
Most of the struggling has already been done for us, but occasional moments of acute sexism will come back to smack you in the face. Feminism is a bit of a dirty word now, and I'm probably not going to be burning my bra anytime soon, but I will make it my personal mission to show that you can be a driven, articulate female, and nice!