Why should “funny” and “beautiful” be mutually exclusive? – Denise Li

Do you sometimes find yourself wondering how far women have really come after reading certain discussions online?

I know I have … and the topic that I’m currently preoccupied with – and find immensely fascinating – is that of female comedians (henceforth known as comediennes in this blog post). There are lots of opinion columns online which have discussed whether beautiful women can be funny, or this one, which posed the question of whether attractive funny women had to “uglify” themselves in order to be considered truly funny.

To me, the fact that we’re still even discussing this issue – whether “funny” and “beautiful” are mutually exclusive – makes me realise that we simply cannot rest on our laurels about feminism just yet. The fact that we are still having this discussion in the first place is proof that a woman’s worth – in this case, her comedic talent – is still pegged to how she looks.

Kristen Wiig of Bridesmaids

To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what’s behind the assumption that a beautiful woman can’t (shouldn’t? Simply unable to?) be funny. Am I being too sensitive and jumping the gun to say that it’s because “funny” has been the traditional domain of men, and they don’t appreciate beautiful, humorous women encroaching on their territory?

One of our Fun Fearless Females, Judee Tan, a Fly Entertainment artiste, got everyone talking with her hilarious impersonation of a North Korean reporter in The Noose. She also mentioned, in the interview I did with her, that she too finds it puzzling that people say women can’t be funny. Well, read about her reaction to that in this post.

When you think about it … this situation is really quite bizarre. In many other instances, a woman isn’t just expected to be good at what she does but ALSO be attractive. Remember that picture that circulated not too long ago of the Australian female weightlifter with unshaven armpits? Despite her amazing feat of having made it to the Olympics, people chose to focus on the “appalling” fact that a woman could care so little about grooming (read more about why ed-in-chief Debs thinks the onus lies on women to start celebrating the achievements of our gender here).

These two examples just go to show how and why we should keep fighting gender stereotypes and propagating the feminist cause. Women are STILL always judged on how they look; “not groomed enough” in the case of the Aussie weightlifter, “a bit too beautiful” in the case of some comediennes.

This needs to stop. The next feminist milestone we need to work towards is creating a world in which a woman’s achievements are celebrated … without the value of her work being devalued just because she isn’t genetically-blessed. And if she is beautiful, the point can be made … just not in the same breath as talking about her talent.

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