Dueling Discourses: The Female Comic’s Double Bind in the New Media Age
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The belief that women are unfunny or not as funny as their male counterparts continues to hold sway in our society. For women comics, this belief informs hiring decisions, online traffic, income, and more. Another popular discourse maintains that the internet levels the playing field in the comedy industry, meaning anyone can succeed if they have good material. Invoking all the trappings of the myth of meritocracy, Rebecca Krefting calls this the “Content is King” discourse. Utopic fantasies of virtual parity obscure the real ways in which gender biases continue to play out in these so-called democratic spaces. These dueling discourses lock women comics into a double bind—the operability of one discourse means that the other cannot possibly be true. Using ethnography, textual analysis of women’s comic performances, and feminist discourse analyses of popular media, Krefting examines these competing discourses, the ways those discourses circumscribe women’s professional success as comedians and the funny ladies that challenge these discursive lies.
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