To nobody’s surprise, it’s not funny this time either. Why do we let it pass?
The picture above is of one of those novelty chocolate things that turns up around holidays, in this case celebrating romance by dehumanizing men.
First let’s get one thing out of the way. That crummy, low-grade chocolate is by no stretch of the imagination “decadently rich”, and the manufacturer knows that perfectly well. So it’s dishonest on top of everything else.
More importantly, however, can we for the love of all that is holy get past this lousy way of talking about men? Feminists have quite rightly been calling out tasteless, objectifying, stereotype-reinforcing jokes like this for decades, but generally only when they’re about women. We need to start acknowledging that this kind of crap isn’t funny when it’s about men either. It’s yet another microaggression perpetuating stereotypes by making someone’s day a little bit uglier.
Fact is, this joke about how men are only perfect when they’re not human has been going around for a while. At least in this incarnation they’re not advertising how you can bite his head off if you want. It’s just the same gag about how a man’s most pleasant when he can’t speak. That’s every bit as funny now as it was about women last century.
The worst part, though, is the point about what a man ought to be. Decadently rich.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of success objects and the Success Myth, let me give you the short version: there’s a pervasive idea that a man’s social and interpersonal value comes entirely from how much money he has, and that idea is toxic, damaging, and basically all-around horrible for both men and women.
The thing that makes a lot of jokes offensive is not that they’re particularly horrible, it’s that their humor is based in recognition. They’re going for that chuckle of familiarity, funny-because-it’s-true, you know what those people are always like, the ladies out there know what I’m talking about, amirite?
So this quarter-assed excuse for humor not only takes for granted that women all want a rich man, it assumes you take that for granted too. It’s enlisting you as a co-conspirator in its vicious, stupid little gag. Ladies, congratulations, you’ve just been called a gold-digger. Gentlemen, 99% of you have just been called worthless and undesirable. And you must agree with these assessments of yourselves, or this stupid joke can’t even get the sad little New-Yorker-cartoon half-chuckle it’s going for.
Yeah, it’s intended to be a joke for women, having a little laugh at men’s expense. But apparently it’s a joke intended for women with a pretty low opinion of their own gender, and a pretty ugly opinion of men. So frankly, I’m glad it’s crummy, low-grade chocolate. If you think this tired, sexist old crap is worth spending money on, you don’t deserve good chocolate.