Look, it’s no secret that men just aren’t funny. The comedy world is absolutely dominated by women like Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Maya Rudolph, and Tig Notaro, who bring the hilarity while speaking from an informed, progressive mindset. The men who make it big tend to try to emulate “edgy” comedy by being grating and bigoted, like Kurt Metzger or the cast of Top Gear.
This is most likely due to simple biology. Back in the Paleolithic era, men hunted while women stayed close to home to take care of babies and gather berries. Hunting requires absolute silence, lest you give away your presence and scare off your prey; therefore, men evolved brains that focus on staying quiet and listening.
Gathering, on the other hand, allows and even requires talking and socialization. This is how women of the Paleolithic evolved the ability to make funny jokes as a way to bond. Hence, the women of today produce comedy that is intensely enjoyable and which forces society to examine its biases and get better. Men who attempt comedy only end up pushing everyone away. Like Jeff Dunham. Who wants to be near that racist? Nobody. Not even other racists.
Anyway, today it has come to light that yet another group of men have attempted comedy at the expense of women, and failed miserably. The UK organization Entangled Bank is hosting a science event called Consensus. At first it wasn’t clear from their website what the consensus was, exactly, but luckily they had Frequently Asked Questions that spelled it out:
I am a fanatical, misandristic ‘feminist’. May I drone on about the lack of women in the line-up and despatch abusive, bigoted, mis-spelt, ungrammatical missives to the organisers and presenters?
No. Please save your talents for Twitter and Facebook, that is what they are for.
We’re actually very disappointed that none of our female invitees accepted, but that is just how it was. As scientists we have no choice but to accept reality. Wanting something to be otherwise does not make it so.
That could not be truer. Wanting the organizers to be the least bit funny, or at least decent people, does not make it so.
After women like Suzi Gage brought this to the attention of Twitter, Entangled Bank edited the page to delete the question (though Gage got a screenshot). When people noticed that and started complaining, Entangled Bank edited the page again to include this response:
Why are there no women on the panel?
We tried. We failed. The event was set up at short notice and as it happened, of all the excellent people we approached the only ones available on the day were men. We knew this wasn’t ideal and questions would be asked, so we tried to make a joke about it.
We tried. We failed. Should have been spotted by us, but as soon as our attention was drawn to it – via Twitter – we removed it. That only added to the confusion as some people saw the reactions without always knowing what was being reacted to.
So, sorry. It’s not through lack of effort the line-up is wide-ranging in the nature of their brilliance but entirely mono-gendered, but it is our fault the attempt at levity about it fell flat. And we do appreciate the efforts of all those who drew our attention to the error.
I know what you’re thinking at this point: but Rebecca, how do you know that the organizers of this conference are men? That is a very good, skeptical question, dear readers. Allow me to present the evidence:
1. As previously established, men are not funny. The FAQ was objectively unfunny.
2. As previously established, men rely on bigotry in order to “shock” their audience into not realizing they’re not being funny. The FAQ was aggressively misogynistic.
3. In their response, Entangled Bank states that the FAQ was there because they hadn’t “spotted” it. How can you not spot something that appeared in the official description of your own event on your own website? It’s simple: men, as hunters, did not evolve the ability to spot important things. Only women, the gatherers, evolved that ability. A woman would have immediately spotted that FAQ, if not while she was writing it then definitely when she was proofreading it, posting it to the site, or scanning the page to be sure all the text was formatted properly. She would have spotted that misogynistic blurb like a succulent berry hanging from a twig in a spotlight of morning sun.
So, clearly Entangled Bank doesn’t have any women on staff to help them write their jokes. With that in mind, here are three FAQ options that would have been funnier than the misogynistic choice they went with:
Why are there no women on the panel?
We asked several women to participate but unfortunately none were able to make it. Next year we’ll try harder, but for this year we will have a cardboard cutout of Jocelyn Bell Burnell that has a motion detector so when you walk past it says, “If we assume we’ve arrived: we stop searching . . . FOR WOMEN.”
Why are all your speakers older white men?
We asked several women and people of color to participate but unfortunately none were able to make it. We’re not sure why, but it’s a shame because we were planning a workshop with Richard Dawkins titled, “Things Marginalized People Should and Should Not Be Angry About: Everyday Bigotry (No) and Religion (Yes).”
How many women did you ask to speak at your event?
DUUUUUUH WHAT’S A WOMAN
These are all free for you to use, Entangled Bank! You’re welcome.