Thursday, 7 July 2011

Marxism 2011 - Kate Smurthwaite

I am back from Marxism 2011 and, more importantly, I am now more or less restored from the stress of it all.
I have lots to say about it, but whether I’ll be able to say it is another story.

But first, let’s focus on what’s really important.

OMG!!! I SAW KATE SMURTHWAITE!!! And I have proof! She gave me her autograph afterwards!!! Look!

*grins* I have been looking forward to seeing Kate on stage for ages.

As part of the Marxism festival, there was a comedy show titled “Hysterical Materialism” which, for those who aren’t “in the know”, is a play on words of Marx’s theory of “historical materialism”. I believe the whole theme of the show is “lefty” politics, and comedians are explicitly lefty. I can’t tell you how amazing and strange it is to hear people on stage cracking jokes about Tories and how much we hate them. For once you feel like you are part of the majority.

We tend to think that comedy and politics do not mix. We are wrong, of course; comedy dwells into politics all the fricking time. We don’t notice because it’s the “default” kind of politics; meaning, it is mainstream and pro status quo. Now when you’re in a room full of socialists, all listening to a lefty-leaning comedian, you notice that the jokes themselves are not all that different. Instead of laughing at fart jokes, they laugh at Osbourne and Cameron.

I’m going to be brutally honest here: most comedians do not have the balls gonads to bring up politics.

Kate has the biggest balls gonads of them all.  The “field” of comedy is hard enough as it is for women, what with having an approximate ratio of 100:1. Not only is she a female comedian, which is hard enough, but she is not afraid of bringing up politics. Now, that in itself takes more courage than any comedian you see anywhere. But not content with that, Kate takes it up a notch and is not shy of spicing up her act with feminist ideas. That, my friends, is absolutely unheard of.
I have never, not once, heard a comedian, male or female, use feminist ideas on their act. Though I have heard supposedly “progressive” comedians make decidedly anti-feminist jokes. I’m sure many feminists will agree with me on that.

Why Feminist Comedy Matters
You know how we oppose rape jokes because they make rapists feel validated and reinforce their belief that all men are like them? Well, it’s a similar thing. When Kate makes a feminist joke, she is axiomatically assuming that her audience is on board with feminist ideals. The audience is somewhat “forced” or “coerced” into sharing her values if they want to laugh at the joke. This happens all the time, by the way, with all comedians. People can only laugh with each other and make jokes around sentiments and ideas they have in common. But when Kate brings up feminism, she is giving the impression that the whole audience is feminist and on board with her. So that when everyone laughs, those who are not yet feminists feel that everyone else is. It’s a sneaky but effective way to bring people on board.

If feminists were truly committed to the feminist cause, they would be worshipping Kate. Just because. We should have a Kate fan club with thousands of members.

It doesn’t matter if I disagree with her on something, or if one of her jokes doesn’t make me laugh. The fact that she’s there, when all the cards are stacked against her, should be enough for us to stand right behind her.

It's hard to say anything about Kate other than she rocks. She's funny, insightful and daring. She's also one of a kind. There is literally no one else doing what she does on stage. 
If I could send anything Kate's way it would be a huge bag of support and encouragement, with "keep up the good work" on the label. I have known of Kate for years and in all this time she's kept at it with a determination that should leave us all in awe. She is the living proof that the seemingly impossible, immortalised in the infamous cliche that "feminists have no sense of humour", can be made possible through the refusal to be silenced or go anywhere. 

Like I said, that takes balls gonads. And Kate has the largest ones of all comedians everywhere.

* I spent 5 days surrounded by socialists and let me tell you, for all the “lefty” sentiment, the atmosphere was far from being a feminist paradise. You get the same male-pushiness as everywhere else, not to mention the diminishing of anything female related. During the Q&A of one of the lectures a young woman had the audacity of bringing up the mooncup as an example of a more environmentally friendly approach to consumption. Cue in the males squirming on their seats. You would think they have never heard of menstruation before. I was so angry I felt like shouting and asking them to grow the F up.


kurukurushoujo said...

Mary Tracy said...

I am Mary Tracy and I approve that video. LOL!

Lindsay said...

During the Q&A of one of the lectures a young woman had the audacity of bringing up the mooncup as an example of a more environmentally friendly approach to consumption. Cue the males squirming on their seats.

Hah! I'd probably find their squeamishness funny, but then I can also see why it could be infuriating if it led them to Just Not Listen to her.

Environmentally friendly consumption is kind of a thorny topic. At heart, it's an oxymoron, but I can see a place for replacing/substituting different products for some of the ones we use now, if those different products are more efficient, longer-lasting and ultimately lead to less consumption. And I would agree that mooncups (or washable cloth pads, if you are like me and cannot insert anything into your vagina) would be an example of that ... you have just one, or maybe a few, that you use over and over again instead of using hundreds or thousands of disposable pads or tampons over the course of your life!

But generally the idea of "environmentally friendly consumption" makes my Greenwashing Spider Sense get all tingly. :(