Skepchick Quickies 10.21

  • Sybil exposed: Memory, lies, and therapy – “Debbie Nathan’s “Sybil Exposed” is about psychiatric fads, outrageous therapeutic malpractice, thwarted ambition run amok, and several other subjects, but above all, it is a book about a book. Specifically, that book is “Sybil,” purportedly the true story of a woman with 16 personalities.” From Emory and Jim.
  • Men aren’t funnier than women but we’ll keep pretending they are – “When I saw a study that basically demonstrated that the men in the research group are no funnier than the women—but that the test subjects held sexist biases that caused them to believe men are funnier than women—I expected to see a round of coverage saying that scientists found men to be funnier than women.”
  • “Man-flu” is real to a fifth of British women – “One in five British women believe that the debilitating “man-flu” disease which temporarily leaves sufferers prostrate on the sofa watching televised sports is real, according to a new study.”
  • Alternative vaccination schedules – Mark Crislip on why we shouldn’t mess with a good thing.
  • Cute Animal Friday! From jes3ica, otters love leaves (the Daily Otter?! squee!). A cute squirrel photo by Jamie. And a man taking care of an orphaned baby dolphin.


Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

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  1. Amanda,

    That Sybil exposed book sounds interesting. Thanks for letting us know about it. Maybe I’ll get it out of the library, the next time I go.

  2. “Part of that is the raunch factor; a woman saying something filthy is a bad girl who gets disapproving head shakes.”

    I’m just wondering. As a man who likes raunchy jokes, is it part of the stereotype that I find certain women find my jokes offensive (not sexual innuendoes aimed at them, just raunchy jokes in general).

    For some reason I feel that I’m categorised as a “bookish guy” or an “intellectual” and vulgar language should be somehow “beneath me”, while in actual fact I enjoy it a lot!

    Oh and I also enjoy chatting with women who have no qualms about telling jokes like that themselves.

    1. As far as the raunch factor goes, I think that raunchy female comedians are not viewed disapprovingly at all: Sarah Silverman. She’s very popular, and raunchier than most men are even.

  3. Most women who have a sense of humor can tell you about a time they’ve told a joke, had it blatantly ignored by their friends and family, and then heard a man tell the same joke (having subconsciously stolen it from the ignored woman) to peals of laughter. That stopped happening to me after my career as a writer took off, which functionally gave me male status when it came to joke-cracking in various social circles…

    I can’t help but feel this undermines her point just a bit, she got more laughs now so she assumes it’s because she has a “functional male status” instead of she is more confident, or more outgoing, or has better material, or maybe she just got better at telling jokes. It could be for any number of reasons but “women aren’t funny” so it must be because they see her as a man. Or maybe it just proves her point by showing that even she believes she can’t be considered funny without her being thought of as a man.

    *She also accused men of (subconsciously) stealing her jokes. But I’ll just assume that’s a stylistic choice rather that a ironic subversion.*

    The study is interesting though.

    1. Happens to me fairly frequently with my husband, the raunchier it is the more likely it is to happen. It’s a pretty freqent occurence for many women.

      1. I don’t doubt that it happens, as I have seen it happen, I was just wondering why the assumption as to why she was now getting more laughs now was because she was seen as a man.
        It struck me as curious, that’s all.
        As for the appropriation of jokes by men who then tell it again and get more laughs, I’ve seen it go both ways (three ways actually).
        1)The woman tells a joke poorly and gets no response while the man tells a better version later to good effect.
        1)The woman tells a joke and get the response (good or bad) that she gets and the man tells it later to similar effect.
        C)The woman tells a knee-slapper that is later told poorly by a man to crickets.
        I’m not saying there couldn’t be unconscious bias involved, in fact I wouldn’t be surprised at all if there is, but I still think that the joke/story/anecdote teller as well as the mood of the audience involved is far more important.
        Plus spoken humor vs. written humor is a whole nother issue.

      2. It’s a “common” thing for a woman to tell a joke, and then men who hear it, but don’t find it funny, steal the joke, retell it, and get huge laughs? I find that hard to believe, but if you say so…

  4. I think it’s interesting how culturally bound humor is. During the two years when I first got involved in the LGBT and then skeptical and then atheist communities, that really changed which jokes I found funny. Some of it was due to in-group vs. out-group stuff (it’s harder to laugh at a joke that’s based on a stereotype you hate or that’s about yourself), and some of it was due to geeky changes in knowledge (jokes about Stonewall and homeopathy and Pascal’s Wager are not obvious to everyone).

    But some of it was stuff that I still understood in the same way, but just wasn’t funny anymore. If the funny part of a joke is “Surprise awkward gayness!”, that’s only funny if you find gayness surprising or exceptional. Even if it’s not explicitly homophobic, it’s boring. Sort of like jokes about male nurses are boring, because my dad’s a nurse and I never thought that was very weird growing up. Or context-less parodies of creationists are less funny if they sound exactly like some of the creationists I knew growing up (reverse Poe’s Law). Jokes are only really funny if they have an element of moderate surprise, either because they are about something strange, or they are about a common experience presented in a way that’s really eccentric, shocking, or “edgy”.

    Anyway, what I’m getting around to is that it shouldn’t surprise anyone that men and women can be equally funny. Funniness is governed by the whole relationship between the joke, the person making it, the audience, and the culture they are embedded in. That’s not to say that some people aren’t more talented comedians than others, but talent definitely isn’t everything.

    This whole topic reminds me of how feminists (or people who are seen as “politically correct” in general) often accused of being humorless or unable to take a joke. Sometimes a “joke” to one person is banal to someone who has had different experiences. Like all the comedies that rely on gender stereotypes that don’t remotely apply to people I know in real life. It’s not so much “Ha! I hate it when that happens!” as “What a surreal character. Why would anyone act like that?”

  5. My sense from my own experience in life is that men tend to be funnier than women. I am of the impression that it is cultural, though, and not genetic or hard-wired into our brains. Boys get more mileage out of being funny as kids, and I don’t think get the same positive reinforcement for being funny.

    I find male comedians overall funnier than female comedians. I think mainly that’s because of the subject matter.

    That being said, I think Sarah Silverman is as funny as any guy out there, and just about the funniest comedian around.

    1. I’m shocked to learn that you think men are better than women at something – shocked!

      What else are men just plain better than women at? I’m sure you have a long list of pronouncements about the breeding importance of everything men do. But not women. Because, duh, passive holes, guys!

      “I don’t know – Therefore, evo psych!”

  6. All of the, “Men are better at _____ than women” or, “Women are more ______ than men” Should be immediately thought of as false. They’re blanket statements.

  7. I won’t have time to read the man-flu article for awhile, but I’m guessing the cure is to have your wife serve you pizza, chips, and beer instead of the usual orange juice and chicken soup.

  8. This still doesn’t explain to me why Dane Cook is popular, which is one of the most important questions in all of comedy…

    1. Because people still find stupid stereotypes and cliches funny. Plus he appeals to their biases without challenging preconceptions.

      Kinda like Jesus and Mo’ for atheists.



  9. From the article about man-flu:
    “Over half of respondents admitted to self-diagnosis, using the internet to research their symptoms.”

    So? Is this supposed to be a bad thing? Now, if

    a) doctors were all extraordinarily well trained, and

    b) we all had access to a doctor without having to wait for hours in a clinic or to pay through the nose,

    then perhaps there’d be no point in using the internet to try to figure out what might be wrong with one’s body.

    But for those of us who have well-meaning but over-worked doctors without superhuman memories and with the normal range of human prejudices, and for those of us who live with a flawed health system, the internet is an obvious and useful resource.

    If I go to my doctor without a clue as to what might be wrong with me I will have no idea what sorts of questions to ask, and which of several potential treatments to choose.

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