[Scott Weems, a cognitive scientist] at the University of Maryland, tiptoes into the area of what he delicately calls women’s “struggle in the world of comedy,” or as feminist sociolinguist Robin Lakoff put it more directly in 1975, “Women can’t tell jokes — they are bound to ruin the punch line, they mix up the order of things, and so on. Moreover, they don’t ‘get’ jokes. In short, women have no sense of humor.”With feminists like that, who needs male chauvinist pigs? I googled that quote to see if Lakoff was paraphrasing what other people think, and the first hit was this webpage — with genuinely ludicrous retro web design — with the headline — I'm not kidding — "From Peek-a-boo to Sarcasm: Women's Humor as a Means of Both Connection and Resistance." I almost got a headache finding the answer to my question, which is that Lakoff was only explaining the old stereotype, not expressing her own opinion. Anyway, Smith continues:
Terrified of where he’s heading, Weems retreats to the usual Women’s Studies jibber-jabber about how this is men’s fault, writing, “Women communicate differently than men and, consequently, are often subjected to misunderstandings in male-dominated environments. Because their language tends to be powerless, they can’t tell jokes, at least not effectively, and so are robbed of an important social function.”But isn't Smith doing pro-woman jibber-jabber of a typical sort: Whatever is found to be true of women is portrayed as good. "Neurotic, aggressive jerks" are the best joke tellers, and that's why men are better at joke telling. What might seem bad about women — inadequacy at joke-telling — is transformed into good: non-jerkiness.