Why aren’t they smiling?

It was well said that the rib God took from Adam and donated to Eve could not have been the funny bone. Why else would women be so glum? They are often the butt of male jokes, be it ‘nagging’ wives, ‘nosey’ mothers-in-law or XXL sizes. But seriously, when it comes to having a laugh, why are Indian women unable to comply?

Here’s one rib-tickling view from management expert and columnist Suhel Seth: “There are two kinds of Indian women: the ones that follow Sonia Gandhi — they think they are in power and will not smile no matter what the circumstances; and the other kind who follow Mayawati — they are so bitter about everything, they don’t even want to smile.”

Small wonder that politician Renuka Chowdhury believes it is an oxymoron to talk of humour and women. She says the sisterhood is generally dour. “Women, even professionals, like to be seen as Little Miss Goody Two-Shoes, prim and proper. Most appear to be what they aren’t.”

How often does one hear uninhibited female laughter in public? Chowdhury admits it can be a profoundly serious matter because men generally see women who laugh easily — and loudly — as ‘easy prey’. A sense of humor is an advantage, but not, it seems in the typical Indian marriage.

Researchers say women may prefer guys who can crack a good joke but men prefer a wife who can laugh at their jokes rather than tell a few herself. Chowdhury says this becomes obvious at any Indian party: “See the way men quietly withdraw when they see an intelligent woman cracking jokes and punning. Many feel intimidated.” Funnily enough, Indian women seem to be always ready to laugh at other people. Seth says this is a seriously ugly trait: “She will laugh when she discovers her neighbours are bankrupt or that her kitty party friend has a fake LV bag.”

Chowdhury says Indian humour in general is contrived and banal, rather like our Hindi serials. Is this really the case? No, says ad filmmaker Prahlad Kakkar. “Women have such a bad deal from their men, that laughter is often the only way to cope…(They) are better able to laugh at themselves, unlike the egotistic man.” Stand-up comic Mahabanoo Mody Kotwal insists, “Women have such a wide array of subjects to laugh at… (sometimes I feel that sardar jokes are the only ones that Indian men understand!).” Perhaps, but it is undeniable that most Indian women lack a certain ‘lightness of being’ that has them tossing of humourous asides every day.

Veteran actor Shammi Kapoor says “foreign women come across as wittier — they are more uninhibited and free.” He adds, “a witty woman is a beautiful woman. Looks come somewhere down the line. A witty woman constantly innovates and spars with another. That can be done mainly with good education.” Kakkar says wittiness comes with being creative and competitive and is a trait generally found in women over 35, who are comfortable with themselves.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. m s dinakar
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 13:21:25

    … laughter is a good yardstick whether one is content with oneself … but then … whether men or women … Indians tend to take life too seriously … it is way they carry life that makes it a burden for many … this is not to deny that odds are heavily stacked them … but still … some women are affected by how they would look to others when they laugh or how others might intepret their laughter … caged in by their own illusory images … women miss out on laughing … at themselves and jokes in general … yet … there are wome who are spontaneous in their laughter and at cracking jokes … eom.


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