I meant to write about this one before Christmas, but what with all the lurgy we’ve had and everything, it just didn’t happen. Still, it’s so inane it’s worth a late post.
Professor Sam Shuster, yes an actual university professor, conducted the following experiment (which I assume involved no taxpayers’ money, because otherwise things are really going downhill).
He rode his unicycle in public and recorded the reactions of passers by, specifically for the purpose of identifying how women and men reacted differently. He found that “Women tended to make encouraging, praising comments, while men jeered. The most aggressive were young men… The difference between the men and women was absolutely remarkable and consistent… At 11-13 years, the boys began to get really aggressive. Into puberty, the aggression became more marked, then it changed into a form of joke. The men were snide.”
From which he concluded?
That humour is used by men as a mask for aggression, and that therefore (since aggression is linked to testosterone) that humour “comes from testosterone”. And therefore, if we follow this to its logical conclusion, that women have no sense of humour because they are women and lack the necessary hormones. Nothing to do with your rubbish jokes then, chaps. Breathe easy.
This reasoning is so crass that I’m not sure where to even start.
OK, so this “study” (although I’m really not convinced that it deserves the name) shows us that immature men tend to react to a unicycling man aggressively, more so during puberty. Possibly there is testosterone involved because, yes, studies do suggest a link between the hormone and aggressive behaviour. The “study” shows us also that as men mature they are more likely to react with mockery than open aggression. Perhaps they have indeed learned to use mockery as a mask for aggression, since aggression through mockery is so much safer and more satisfying.
What Professor Sam assuredly does not and cannot prove is that mockery = humour. Mockery quite plainly ≠ humour – although many men seem to have been trained to believe the contrary. Mockery is a means of attack. Too often, it is a subversion of humour, a disguise for cruelty and aggression. Sometimes it is also funny, and sometimes it is an effective and legitimate weapon against those in power who we cannot attack in any other way. But, mockery isn’t always funny; and humour isn’t always mockery.
Nor can Professor Sam prove from his curious experiment that there is any link between mockery / humour and testosterone. His “study” may show that men – with their bags of testosterone and consequent raging aggression, which of course they cannot be expected in any way to control or modulate – respond to a man-on-unicycle scenario with mockery / humour while women do not. However, unless it is suggested that a man on a unicycle can somehow stand in for all possible funny situations (a man on a unicycle? I mean, come on!) that doesn’t prove anything at all. It proves only that men laugh at men on unicycles while women don’t.
So there we are, we have finally got to the nub of what this “study” actually proves. It proves that men laugh at men on unicycles while women don’t. Possibly because of their manly testosterone-fuelled mockery urge.
So remind me, what does two and two make again? Is it a humourless feminist with no biological capacity for the mockery of idiots? Or is it: