I was on a flight and happily absorbed in the latest issue of Cosmo when a well-known local comedian appeared in front of the cabin and decided to make me the focal point of their impromptu stand-up routine. My hair – especially the condition of my roots – my choice of reading material, my age. Ho ho ho how excited the other passengers were at the free show while I stuck my head in my magazine and wished it was over. Of course I tried to manage a wan smile, because sure it’s not what all women should do at all costs – laugh at it, sure, it’s just a bit of a joke.
he third row of a cheap flight from Edinburgh is certainly not Oscar night in LA, but when Chris Rock cracked his joke about actress Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, I felt deeply into the frozen look of pain on her face. How she must have flinched at her performance – after speaking so openly about her emotional battle with alopecia – served as a bad joke in front of a room full of her peers and an audience of millions.
Only to remain stoic while her husband aggravates the situation by slapping Chris Rock and demanding that he “keep my wife’s name out of your damn mouth.” and He later defended his outburst as a crazy thing that love made him do. Forget the Oscars — it’s Pinkett Smith who deserves an award.
And yet, in all the discussion about toxic masculinity and whether or not he should be around The Slap, it feels like the woman at the center has been overlooked. When really
The biggest question isn’t about the reaction to The Joke, it’s about the joke itself.
How long will it be okay to laugh at how a woman looks? Chris Rock has the form for this; Let’s not forget his hilarious joke about Jennifer Lopez needing two limos at the 1999 MTV VMAs — “one for her and one for her ass.” Although he also branded Fatboy Slim as “retarded” that same year, his “edgy” humor isn’t limited to sexist observations.
But he’s far from the only one. Sheridan Smith has spoken about how an awards show in 2016 “sent her from the deep end.” “Graham Norton was hosting and made a joke, basically at my expense, about being a drunk,” she said. “I was so humbled, you know, it’s a room full of your peers.” She describes the moment as “breaking the camel’s back” that seriously impacted her mental well-being.
“It’s just a little banter”, “I’m just laughing”, “I have a sense of humor” are phrases that every woman has usually heard after making a “harmless” joke about her looks, abilities or sexuality became. You know what, there’s a reason we don’t laugh – it’s because it’s not funny.
Watch old episodes of friends, it’s the jokes about fat Monica that are the hardest to watch. What does it say about us that a woman’s waist size should cause roars of laughter? I remember reading about Gail Porter’s experience with alopecia, how she cried throughout an entire transatlantic flight, distraught that her baldness would scare her little two-year-old daughter.
“It was terrifying when it started,” Pinkett Smith said on a 2018 episode of Red Table Talk. “One day I was in the shower and I only had a handful of hair in my hands.” The 50-year-old shaved her head to regain control of the situation.
Chris Rock may have insisted it was “just a GI Jane joke,” but I’m sure to the woman on the receiving end that’s not entertainment.
The episode on the flight happened 20 years ago and I get nervous sitting in front of the flights. Do I wish I’d had an A-lister husband rushing towards the comic in question? No, but I wish I had said something, because making jokes at another woman’s expense wasn’t funny then or now.
https://www.independent.ie/life/in-the-furore-over-will-smith-slapping-chris-rock-the-big-question-is-why-is-it-still-ok-to-mock-how-a-woman-looks-41495442.html In the excitement of Will Smith slapping Chris Rock, the big question is why is it still okay to make fun of a woman’s looks?