By Gabriella Bottoni
Once upon a fifth-grade lunchtime ritual, I was a round, thick-browed girl who inconspicuously ate her tunafish sandwich while all the other smooth-legged kids ate fruit-rollups. I eventually grew into my brows and discovered the Lady-Bic as well as friends who pretended to respect my lunch. Also, my face is now my mother’s and my boobs are there; so using that logic, I can say that, although I am no Julia Roberts, I am not half-bad to look at. Men, who haven’t heard me speak, have even testified to this. But it was during my adolescence when I learned something that would essentially determine my current fate as a young, very single woman. It’s a lesson I like to call: “Boys like farts, but not your farts.”
Max Turner* was just the dreamiest. That strawberry-blonde fuzz on his big head, those freckles that covered his pasty face, and those icy blue eyes that looked right past me…. I had to make him love me before my stupid, equally as freckled, cheerleading best-friend, Ashley*, got to him. One day in class, I decided to make my move. I’m a catch, I thought shortly before, during a bathroom break pep-talk with the mirror; we both like the rap song on Now That’s What I Call Music 11, and we both laughed at David* when he farted before, so this could work. Elementary school love apparently isn’t quite as simple as liking the same rapper or finding the same things funny. When I got back to class, I sat next to Max and tried to execute some of the flirty gestures I’d seen Ashley perform. He said something funny and I giggled enthusiastically – not laughed – as I gave him “the eyes” and a flirty lean. All my efforts turned to shit, not quite so literally, as the stress of attraction caused me to accidentally release a little toot. I laughed (I had to) and he laughed (too hard). He definitely heard that, I thought, but maybe he thinks it’s funny because he loves me…. And that might have been, had he not shouted, “you’re goofy, dude!”
I’ve never been ideal, but before I get all heavy and rant about how society holds these marginalizing ideals for women – that they should be hairless, submissive, non-farting, dainty dolls – I would like to instead point out that this was not the last time I have been denied by a male based on the sole fact that I did or said something overbearing or unladylike. While it’s no longer the farts, it’s now the crudeness of my particular humor that wards off the men.
Why can’t women be dangerously funny and still be attractive? Or, if we are both things, why are we considered to be some rare, exotic specimen? Since when has sexy and funny been at odds? Have we forgotten what a sex-muffin young Betty White was, or that her current sex life is probably significantly better than all of ours combined? As Liz Lemon would say, it’s insulting to have to compose a list. (Carol Burnett, Lucille Ball, Gilda Radner, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler – NO! I won’t do it.) It’s the same macho ignorance that brought you intelligently crafted ideas like, “women aren’t funny.” (I’m looking at you, ghost of Christopher Hitchens). His infamously icky 2007 Vanity Fair article, “Why Women Aren’t Funny,” equated making someone laugh to mating, and that men need only engage in this form of seduction. Because why would women benefit from seeing laughter from a man that is “real, out-loud, head-back, mouth-open-to-expose-the-full-horseshoe-of-lovely-teeth” if we have no penis to insert? Humor is a dominating force, and according to the heterosexual macho men of Western society (and Sir Ghost Hitchens), it is reserved for them (…and sometimes “hefty or dykey or Jewish” women). But the reality for all women – even the sexy ones – is that sometimes life calls for a little language that’s Sara Silverman-esque (and by that, I do not mean Jewish).
To the sexy women who want to say horribly funny shit: the more of us there are, the less rare we become. Eventually, I predict, more men will stop being intimidated and start being turned on. And to those men who might agree with Hitchens: please try to keep it in your pants as we laugh proudly and open-mouthed at 30 Rock – a seventeen-time Emmy nominated comedy show created by the sexy woman who has won seven Emmys, two Golden Globes, four Writers Guild of America Awards, and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Now, if you don’t think Tina Fey is sexy, then that’s where the real problem lies.
*Names have been changed.