Are Men or Women Funniest? Germaine Greer & Ghostbusters

Germaine Greer once said women weren’t as funny as men. Paul Feig who directed Ghostbusters seems to think it’s men who aren’t funny. Are either of them doing a disservice to the sexes? The BBC now has female comic quotas on its panel shows to prevent all-male line-ups. Victoria Wood and Caroline Aherne were both great wits and are sadly missed. Sarah Silverman‘s acerbic tongue certainly does not hold back because she is a member of the “gentler sex”! Come and debate men, women, film, comedy, sexism, stereotypes, misandry, misogyny and Germaine Greer for good measure at Norwich Millennium Library GAS group Tuesday 2 August, 6-7pm.

Germaine Greer on Comedy & Gender

Germaine Greer was in Norwich last week talking about the “disappearing woman”, she didn’t have in mind the lack of leading female comedians, although she did say in 2009 that women were not as funny as men.

“The phenomenon of men’s dominance of the comedy realm is so conspicuous that all kinds of cod explanations have been given for it. According to one cracker-barrel psychologist, the pleasure generated by a response to a gag is patterned on the male orgasm rather than the female. Another wiseacre has convinced himself that making people laugh is exerting some kind of power over them. In my version, the man who opts for the role of joker in the male group is not looking for power but for acceptance; the other roles in the group are not accessible to him, perhaps because he is weaker or poorer or less imposing than his peers. His audience has, as it were, the power of life and death over him; if he fails to get his laugh, he “dies”. Men’s dominance of standup has even been attributed to the phallic character of the microphone, absurdly enough.” – Germaine Greer, Guardian

Sexism in Stand-Up

“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for another act. Now, it is a girl, so be nice because she could be a bit … well, crap.”

“No, it’s not a comedy routine, but a true introduction I’ve been given on stage before my act. It’s an attitude female standups have come to expect from insecure, chauvinistic hacks with little talent. But from Germaine Greer?” – Tiffany Stevenson-Oake, Guardian

Ghostbusters and Funny Women

In the rebooted film Ghostbusters, director Paul Feig disagrees and loves funny women, despite the film being initially panned as the most hated film trailer on YouTube ever with 1 million dislikes from 38 million views.

“Hollywood, start hiring these funny women and giving them movies, please.” Feig discussed Hollywood’s women problem with MTV last week, saying the industry was “having a very hard time catching up with the modern world.” – Daily Telegraph

“Why Men Aren’t Funny” Paul Feig’s Guest Article for the Hollywood Reporter:

“In the original movie, the bad guys weren’t actually the ghosts — everybody loves Slimer and the Marshmallow Man. No, the bad guys were the clueless bureaucrats in the government, who set off a supernatural crisis through bumbling and red tape.
In this film, by contrast, the enemy is all men, while the government ends up playing dad. Every man in the movie is a combination of malevolent and moronic…It’s an overpriced self-esteem device for women betrayed by the lies of third-wave feminism. Despite pandering to the kind of woman who thinks misandry is a positive lifestyle choice, Ghostbusters is remarkably unkind to its female leads.”

Sexist Stereotypes?

“Compare the female Ghostbusters with my favorite female character of all time, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy’s feminine qualities are part of her strength. She saves the world using her female vulnerability, not in spite of it. In fact, her femininity is the only thing that makes her capable of heroic feats.
The petty, two-dimensional feminist posturing of Ghostbusters is demeaning to all four of its leads, particularly when you consider how complex and interesting the film could have been with someone like Joss Whedon at the helm.” – Breitbart

Women’s Representation on Comedy Shows

Since 2014 the BBC has stopped panel shows such as QI , Have I Got News For You, and Mock the Week from having all-male line-ups. “All the regular comedians on the most recent series of Mock the Week were men and only five of the 38 guest panellists were women.” – BBC. But comedian Jason Mansford says they should not have announced the quota-based change publicly.

“I think that’s a boys’ game that works for boys,” Caitlin Moran said. “It’s not like they built it to screw women over, it’s just that boys built it so they made it to work for boys. If I go on there as a token woman, it’s not going to work for me,” she added.

Free Speech, Fair Speech, Safe Speech, Hate Speech?

Where does Freedom of Expression end, Welfare & Safety Begin?

Criticism Quote by VoltaireFrom politics to history, sex, gender, sexuality, race, disability and more, the subject of free speech continues to raise its banner and is countered by calls for safe spaces and freedom from hate speech. Is espousing hate, bigotry, religious or ideological beliefs, however extreme, ever palatable on the basis of freedom of expression? Or, should all speech be fair speech? Does freedom of speech come with a social responsibility not to hurt or harm? Do trigger and content warnings do more harm than good? Harm, that is, to exposure to all points of view and further education. Or, should education be a safe space, away from exposure to harmful points of view? Should comedy be an exception? Should extreme opinions be given airtime, so long as they are balanced with a variety of opposing views? Who defines extreme? What happens when repressive regimes occupy the role of policing speech and define freedom fighters as enemies of the state, atheists and agnostics as apostates worthy of execution, or women as required to be silent and absent from political life? Is safe speech a luxury of a free society – or the sign of one? Is freedom of speech the holy grail of a repressed one and the sign of an enlightened one? Julie Bindel says that:

“censorship is becoming the new normal?” – Julie Bindel

Stephen Fry tells sex abuse victims to ‘grow up’

Fry subsequently apologised but waded in with oversized feet to this issue prompting social media outrage.

Anorexia assertion apology

Joan Bakewell had to issue an apology after linking anorexia among young people with narcissism. Bakewell said she was “alarmed” by the amount of young people suffering from anorexia, “which arises presumably because they are preoccupied with being beautiful and healthy and thin”. She said: “No one has anorexia in societies where there is not enough food. They do not have anorexia in the camps in Syria. I think it’s possible anorexia could be about narcissism.” After mental health and eating disorders charities criticised Bakewell’s “unhelpful” comments, the Baroness tweeted to say that she was “deeply sorry” for any offence caused.

Can you ever joke about rape?

There’s a passage in Sara Pascoe’s new book, Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body, in which she debates whether rape can ever be joked about. While at a comedy festival in Melbourne last year, the 34- year-old comedienne witnessed the furore that erupted after a fellow stand-up made a joke about rape. An audience member lay down beneath a table in protest, and when social media caught on, an international debate was sparked about whether rape jokes should be banned. Pascoe doesn’t make her own view clear in the book, but in the meeting room of her publishers’ Bloomsbury headquarters she’s upfront on this and every issue.

“I don’t think there are any subjects you can’t joke about because human beings are forgiving of subject matter when we find things funny. That said there are definitely things I would never be able to make sound funny.” – Sara Pascoe

NUS Free Speech v Safe Speech protests

Hate Speech is not Free SpeechMarch saw a counter protest in retaliation to the Peter Tatchell Foundation’s protest with supporting organisations outside the NUS Headquarters which cited three basic principles:

  1. Freedom of speech should not include giving platforms to discrimination on university campuses.
  2. It should never justify the bullying of others.
  3. It should never support the discrimination and persecution of others.

Open Letter on Peter Tatchell, Censorship, and Criticism

University Censorship

Truth Quote by George OrwellUniversities are challenged to be a safe haven from censorship, a sanctuary of free speech and tolerance, rather than a health and welfare safe space from tough or sensitive debate, argues Peter Tatchell, Julie Bindel, Germaine Greer, Mary Beard, Rod Liddle and others. Should no-platforming be banned or practised?

“We are in danger of making censorship the standard response to anything that offends, argues Julie Bindel. Recent attempts to ban Donald Trump and pick-up artist Roosh V from the UK would have achieved nothing politically constructive, she says. Movements like civil rights and feminism made progress because they were able to hold people to account.”

Student responses showed solidarity with Fran Cowling, the NUS LGBT+ Officer who refused to share a platform with Peter Tatchell.

An Open Letter to Peter Tatchell Regarding Fran Cowling, Power, and Public shaming.

An article in the Independent challenges the free-speechers, that they might be the oversensitive ‘special snowflakes’:

“We are witnessing an attack on free speech, we are told. The right of activists and thinkers to express their convictions openly is being curtailed by an oversensitive mob – “special snowflakes”, to be exact.” – Independent

Out-argue bad ideas Quote by Barack Obama

Celebrity Gagging Order/Superinjunction

Mouth Gagging OrderShould someone’s private sex life be public news? Particularly when the Internet is impossible to police making localised injunctions farcical when compared to the power of globalised googling? More interesting was the disinterest shown once the celebrity couple were revealed to be husband and husband, not husband and wife, prompting gagged newspapers to switch to partner rather than wife terminology, and to be less worried about a straight celebrity threesome scoop.

Verbal Hate Crimes

Freedom of Speech and Hurt FeelingsIs psychological injury from freedom to criticise one’s sexual or gender identity from bigotry, phobia or religious condemnation, any less important than physical injury? Do differences of opinion on homosexuality, women, trans etc, based upon ideology or faith, grant free opportunity to judge and challenge, on freedom of expression grounds?


China has banned depictions of gay people on television as well as those portraying adultery, showing cleavage and more as content that “exaggerates dark side of society”

Freedom of Speech and Expression Amnesty International