Posted in Blogfest Entries, Life Writing, Sexuality and Erotica, Stream of Consciousness Saturday

SoCS and #WSHD: What’s So Funny About Prejudice?

This post is part of Linda G.Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday meme.

The idea is simple – post an unedited stream of consciousness piece that ties into the weekly prompt – this week’s is to write a post that uses ‘funny’ as its theme.

I’m going to jump right into the post, this week – I don’t think it needs much in the way of introduction.

As some of my readers will know, I attended the Second Annual World Sexual Health Day Celebration at the Cutting Room in Manhattan on September 4th. I’ve written about why I wanted to attend, and the social wraparound, and my general sense of something shifting…

But what, you may ask, is funny about sexual health? Or, as my title asks, about prejudice?

And that’s where Houses on the Moon comes in.

Let’s face it, sexual health tends maybe to conjure images of ‘turn your head and cough’, or little cups and offers of magazines to ‘help things along’, or speculums and stirrups and that PAP smear you keep forgetting to schedule (or is that just me?), or waiting for the results of tests you’d rather not take, with the possibility of life-altering consequences…

But that’s not what I’m talking about here.

I’m also not talking about prejudice being funny in the manner of someone making jokes at the expense of another group of someones for something that is intrinsic to their nature – like, for instance, hair color or skin color or ethnicity or mental ability or sexual orientation or gender or which hand we use or…

It’s not funny to pick on people for being who they are – and it’s not remotely fun to be taunted or abused for being who we are. Maybe the people who hung Matthew Shepard on a fence were laughing, but he wasn’t. Maybe that blonde joke seems funny – but not to the blonde who’s felt the sting of them for her whole life, even if she’s a rocket scientist!

But humor can be a powerful tool for shifting perception. George Carlin was a master at this; Mel Brooks does it in a different, but no less effective, fashion.

And then, there’s Houses on the Moon – my favorite part of the WSHD 2014 celebration.

What is it? It’s a series of performance art pieces that deal with the reality of living at different points on the sexuality/gender spectrum – points that some refer to as aberrant, sinful, or gross. But, rather than a lecture on acceptance of others, we get an almost theatre-of-the-absurd glimpse into moments…

A man walks into a pizzeria, sits down, and a waitress comes to take his order. What toppings?

Anchovies, he tells her.

She is clearly rattled. Nobody likes anchovies. Wouldn’t he rather have mushrooms, just like everyone else?

And then come a series of questions. Anyone could see that she’s offending him as she demands to know why he likes them, how long he’s liked them, how he knows he still doesn’t like mushrooms… she tells him there’s lots of kinds of mushrooms, and maybe he just hasn’t found the right one…

He is unswayed, but he answers the questions as honestly as he can, trying to deflect her between. At last, she seems resigned, and goes to the window.

“One pizza,” she yells. “No mushrooms. ANCHOVIES!” (From “Building Houses on the Moon”).

Funny stuff.

And powerful – because we’re not talking about pizzas and toppings, here, but about attraction and orientation – and people ask those questions of others, too often, as though they have the right to do it, and as if they have some personal stake in making the person they’re interrogating (and likely offending!) see “the error of their ways”.

Because we just can’t have people running around willy-nilly wanting anchovies, and spurning mushrooms, now can we?!

I mean, it’s against the natural ORDER of things…

Or maybe not. Maybe it only really matters to the person who’s gonna eat that pizza, and whomever they’re going to eat it with. Maybe whom others sleep with (or have sex with) isn’t any of our business, unless we’re the person going into their bedroom with them.

Maybe what people put on their pizza is their own business, just like who they share their bed with…

I’d thought I was enlightened, and accepting, and I don’t ask people the types of questions the waitress asked her customer. But it took this sketch to get me thinking about what my life would REALLY be like if I didn’t happen to fall into the “Hopelessly Hetero” slot on that spectrum, if instead I’d landed somewhere to the east or west of what’s considered normal.

I laughed at that sketch – and I learned. Learned to see a bit more fully into the lives of my differently oriented or gendered friends. Learned to know a bit more of their pain.

And that’s a potent thing.

By taking the not-at-all funny and skewing it for laughs, we can reach out and reshape someone’s perspective.

As a mother, a writer, and a human, I want to remember this!

Do you enjoy stream-of consciousness writing? Anyone can play, so long as they are willing to follow a few simple rules. See you next week, for another live-streaming look into the lovely chaos in my mind! =)

Join in or read more SoCS posts here!

Author:

I am myself. I own my life, and live with three other people who own theirs. My intention is to do only those things that bring me joy, and to give myself wholly to those things I do. Writing has been my passion throughout my life, and this will become the home for my writing life...because it brings me great joy!

11 thoughts on “SoCS and #WSHD: What’s So Funny About Prejudice?

    1. Thanks, Linda. I thought it was interesting since I ended up taking the “funny” prompt in a very serious direction…

      One of the coolest things about SoCS, to me, is seeing the directions my mind, and others’ take the same prompt. I’m learning a lot about myself!

  1. I love when humor is used in this way, to make a serious point. Definitely can be a more effective way of inspiring reflection and possibly a new perspective, versus trying to spell it all out; some will just tune out and then you’re left preaching to the choir. Such a good point you made here, and a very clever use of the SoCS prompt!

    1. Thank you! I love humor that has an edge and makes a point. I went to see George Carlin live, in my 20’s, and witnessed him outwit a very stubborn heckler without losing a beat!

      I think many people are more receptive to new ideas if they have something they can laugh at, rather than being moralized at…

      I’m learning how to apply that concept in my own life – I’m glad it made an impact!

      1. George Carlin was great. So shrewd and sharp. That’s so cool you got to see him live! I never saw one of his shows in person, only recorded, but I did happen to see him once at a restaurant in Manhattan and couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to interrupt his meal with the group he was with so I just smiled and gave him a look of recognition, and he smiled back. He died not long after and I wished I’d said hi and thanks for all the great commentary. Whether people agreed or not, he did a good job of raising points and challenging commonly held beliefs, in a good way. As you said, that can be the best way to open up people’s minds.

        1. I think you said plenty in your smile exchange, and you didn’t disturb his meal, but maybe made it all the sweeter. =)

          He was shrewd and sharp, and I’ve missed him so many times, these last few years. He just had this way….his way.

          And the live show? I was pretty broke at the time, but it as worth far more than the price of the ticket!

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