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They Used to Call Me Snow White . . . But I Drifted

Women's Strategic Use of Humor

Gina Barreca

Publication Year: 2013

Published by Viking in 1991 and issued as a paperback through Penguin Books in 1992, Snow White became an instant classic for both academic and general audiences interested in how women use humor and what others (men) think about funny women. Barreca, who draws on the work of scholars, writers, and comedians to illuminate a sharp critique of the gender-specific aspects of humor, provides laughs and provokes arguments as she shows how humor helps women break rules and occupy center stage. Barreca's new introduction provides a funny and fierce, up-to-the-minute account of the fate of women's humor over the past twenty years, mapping what has changed in our culture--and questioning what hasn't.

Published by: University Press of New England


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pp. 1-2

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 3-8


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

Sometimes the demands of a linear argument are even worse than others: there is no way to order these acknowledgments so that everybody comes out in the right place. Everybody, to be honest, deserves to be first on the list of thanks. ...

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Snow White Grows Up

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pp. xiii-xviii

Depending on your age, background, and politics, either everything has changed—or not very much at all. Over the past twenty years, women’s autonomy and visibility have increased. And if we agree with Elizabeth Janeway that power can be defined as the ability not to have to please, ...

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1. Getting It: Strategies for Recognizing and Using Gender Differences in Humor

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pp. 1-38

I grew up watching The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game and soon became aware of the differences between the way men and women deal with humor (I called them boys and girls then, but the theory still holds). On The Dating Game, answers could be sort of dirty; on The Newlywed Game, answers could be really dirty, because the couples were already married. ...

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2. Do Good Girls Laugh with Their Mouths Open?: Why Making a Joke Is Like Making a Pass

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pp. 39-70

It's a wonder we didn't lose our minds, given the outrageous premise of a TV program that promised identical cousins. What isn't surprising is that the producers made sure the song prefaced every episode of The Patty Duke Show, since it explained the relationship between the two girls. ...

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3. Putting a Punch in Your Punch Line: Strategies for Dealing with Aggressive Humor

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pp. 71-100

When a man looks you in the eye after telling you an offensive and not even particularly funny story, and says, "It was only a joke," what he is really saying, according to Joanna Russ, is "I find jokes about you funny. Why don't you find jokes about you funny?" He might be genuinely puzzled. ...

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4. The Laughter in the Kitchen: Growing Up Female and Funny

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pp. 101-122

There were maybe ten to fifteen women between the ages of eighteen and eighty-three in that basement kitchen every Sunday afternoon. Only women. The men would be upstairs doing whatever they did; nobody expressed much interest. ...

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5. Laughing All the Way to the Bank: Humor and Strategies for Success

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pp. 123-144

When Margo Shaw began her job as a systems analyst for a major publishing firm in Chicago, she believed in a number of myths. She swore by the following maxims: 1) For a woman to be taken seriously, she must be serious at all times. 2) Business and pleasure do not mix. ...

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6. "It's Hard to Be Funny When You Have to Be Clean": Sexual Differences in Humor Appreciation/ Differences in Sexual Humor Appreciation

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pp. 145-170

Nicole Hollander, whose "Sylvia" cartoon series is widely syndicated, has drawn a two-frame summary of the differences between what men and women find funny. The first frame shows, simply, a clipboard with the phrase "Gender Differences in Humor" written across it. ...

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7. How Many Feminists Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb? Power, Politics, and Women's Humor

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pp. 171-192

When I started my first year as a student at Dartmouth College, there were four men for every woman. I thought I had it made. Dartmouth had only recently admitted women, and the administration thought it best to get the alumni accustomed to the idea by sneaking us in a few at a time. ...

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8. She Who Laughs, Lasts: The Importance of Defining and Using Our Own Humor

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pp. 193-202

Women are said to "have trouble" with endings—that is one of the ways women's humor and women's talk in general differ from men's. One of the cliches applied to women is that they get halfway through a joke and then can't remember the punch line. In several episodes of l Love Lucy, for example, Lucy tries to tell a joke but cannot keep the story straight. ...


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pp. 203-216


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pp. 217-224

E-ISBN-13: 9781611684469
E-ISBN-10: 1611684463
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611684452

Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2013