I have no sense of humor.

So I’ve been told. Again.

It was to be expected. I even warned you in my “about me” section: I’m a serious person. I take things seriously, often looking for underlying realities or subtleties. And let’s be honest: women and others who want – who insist on and work for – equal rights for all people, have long been accused of lacking a sense of humor.

This time, the offense was an image posted to a design school forum in which I am required to participate. A sexualized pair of ice cream scoops, accompanied by a not-so-innocent invitation. Not a particularly clever design – any 14-year-old boy could have done it. Most probably have. In this case, it was posted by a female student. I asked that it be taken down, inappropriate to the class forum. That’s when I was labeled. No sense of humor. But not just that. I was also a bully for making the request, perverted for noticing the anatomical allusion, and moreover I was a clear representation of “what’s wrong with this country.” It was a big day for me. The epithets piled up. Even my female classmates joined in, labeling me and defending the post, calling it funny, clever, hilarious.

Later that evening, in another arena of my work, I interviewed students for summer internships. One student, a serious young engineer who wants to dedicate her life to making clean water available in impoverished and exploited countries, indicated she’d also applied for engineering internships, but didn’t expect to get hired. “They said they aren’t hiring women this year; they have enough.”

And in the news, Ashley Judd is considering a run for the U.S. Senate. Rather than critiquing her approach to social problems – the foundation for which has come from her childhood in poverty, her graduate education in the Ivy League, and her extensive travel to deprived and forgotten areas of the world – the recent conversation has focused on her movie career (she’s merely an actress) and the occasions when she’s played roles in varying degrees of nudity. But I know Reagan was an actor before he was president; Jesse “the body” Ventura was a pro-wrestling villain before he was governor of Minnesota; Arnold Schwarzenegger was a body builder before… well, you get the idea.

The movement isn’t done. The battle isn’t over. Women are still held to a higher standard, still met with resistance at the highest levels, and, Hillary Clinton, Rachel Maddow and Condoleezza Rice notwithstanding, still thought to be lightweights in realms requiring serious thinking.

We are always, always telling other people what to think of us and how to treat us. More than my frustration over the barrage of criticism that befell me for my request that the class post come down, I am frustrated that my classmate has done herself and the rest of us one more disservice.

Or maybe I just have no sense of humor.

 

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About Deb Conrad
I’m Deb Conrad, pastor, teacher, photographer, writer, antique-lover, cat-mom, wine-drinker and old-house-seeker. I have a bike by Burley and knees by Stryker. I play guitar marginally, bowl when I can. I live in Flint, Michigan, with previous lives in SC, NJ, PA, MD, Washington DC, TX, CA and KY. I founded and still help run UrbanSpirit, a poverty education center in Louisville (link below), where I meet interesting people and try to do what I can to change the world. I'm pastor of Woodside Church in Flint, a groovy place if ever there was one.

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