Abstract

Despite the perception that feminists lack a sense of humor, women have long used ridicule and other comic tactics to subvert conventional norms. In fact, post-structuralist perspectives on power and knowledge give us reason to suspect that forms of humor or irony might be a more appropriate means of philosophical suasion than fact or argument alone. Given that social norms shape cognitive habits, the disrupting of social norms through ridicule might free our thinking as well. In this interdisciplinary essay we seek to untangle the often hidden history of feminism and humor, revealing aspects of the history and influence of feminist humor on knowledge and power, and glimpses into where humor has played a key role in the success of social movements. In Part One, we provide a brief history of the impact of comedy in second and third wave feminism. Part Two provides an elaboration of key philosophical elements towards a genealogy of feminist humor. There we discuss the aim, figures, conception of power, and the cathartic effects of an erotic politics of laughter. We call on future waves of feminism to recall the use of humor in past feminist movements and to incorporate humor into their core.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-768X
Print ISSN
0037-783X
Pages
pp. 217-246
Launched on MUSE
2014-04-30
Open Access
No
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