Hint: Rage when caught doing something wrong = bad guy
I started this blog after reading John Gorman, Jessica Wildfire, Kris Gage and others who are both satirical and inspiring. That, I thought, was my genre. I make myself laugh, often out loud, even in the worst situations, so I want to help readers do the same. With our political climate having taken a sharp turn to the right of “I can’t believe this is happening” not long before, I figured this was a time when satiric humor was needed, and boy, was there a lot of material to be extracted from the clown car and circus. And then shit got serious.
I wrote, with some small grains of humor, about Aziz and the #MeToo movement, advising him on what consent looks like, and how HE could have put on his clothes and walked away at any of the moments she expressed a desire to stop. I felt good about the not-so-subtle making fun of Aziz. But then the crazy just keeps coming. I can’t find humor in the separating of children from their parents at our borders. Nor in the nomination and confirmation of a raging, partisan, vindictive self-admitted “lover of beer” to the Supreme Court, who will impact my son’s life and that of any possible grandchildren. Kudos to Matt Damon and SNL for finding and brilliantly presenting a comedic side to this. It was good to laugh through my anger and tears.
Of course, satirical comedy is designed to express our outrage and concerns, so I am not giving up. It is simply that I have known the Brett Kavanaughs and the Donald Trumps of the world in fraternities, as a woman doing marketing and advertising for real estate businessmen, car dealerships, and other industries, and as someone who dates, and I have never found them amusing. As clients, they sexually harassed me as a young woman in the field of advertising, marketing and P.R. Prior to that, they harassed me as a younger, poor college student who was a GDI (god damned independent) in a private school where two fraternities were often banned for hazing, and boorish, drunken behavior. And I have been bullied while dating into unwanted sexual activities. THESE are the men we are electing and appointing to the highest offices in the land. Sigh.
As young business women, we didn’t report harassment, sometimes because if the harasser was a client, and the company you worked for was making lots of money from them, who would we report it to? Or, when I was told by the president of the college where I worked that I could have the promotion I wanted if I would be his girlfriend, who would listen? There was no Human Resources department. He was it. Much like Trump has set himself above the Senate and anyone else who might think to restrain him. And, I had watched while the EEOC investigated a sexual harassment report from a colleague and nothing was done. Sound familiar?
So, I learned to handle it all with humor. When one client would start every meeting with a dirty joke, I shrugged it off, until the day I couldn’t. I looked him in the eye and said, “You must not ever get laid, since that’s all you think about.” His colleague and business partner cracked up, he turned red, and never attended another meeting with me. I suspect being shot down in front of his buddies made it particularly effective.
I consider the guys who laughed at him the good guys. You know the good guys by the anger they show toward their lesser fellows when one of them treats us badly. Senator Durbin did that. You can see the discomfort on their faces, as we did with Senator Flake. His flaking on the vote now makes his classification as a good guy more suspect, but I appreciate his initial internal struggle and effort. You see it in Cooper Anderson’s outrage and calmly self-confident calling out of the behaviors of the bad guys. I see it in my son’s friendship toward women and his willingness to vote and fight for us to receive respect.
You can tell bad men when the fear of being reported and caught shows up as the rage, disrespect, and snarkiness that Kavanaugh exhibited. It shows up in the shifting anger and arrogance Bill Cosby exhibited in the court room. It shows up in the over-the-top anger and disrespect to fellow committee members shown by Senator Lindsey Graham. Their fear is that they were caught, not that the accusation is false. Makes you wonder about Lindsey.
The good guys are the ones that laugh at the bad guys: Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, Matt Damon, Seth Myers, John Oliver, Jimmy Kimmell, Jimmy Fallon, Larry Wilmore. Their humor gives me hope that I can be funny again in spite, or even because of, the dire circumstances of powerful, bad men getting away with despicable treatment of women. They give me hope that the good guys are with us in our battles with patriarchy, entitlement, and sexual harassment.
Maybe that is one answer. Use humor to embarrass the bad guys in front of their peers. Good guys will laugh. Bad guys will get enraged. That’s how we can tell which are which.