Women Shouldn’t Be Expected To Laugh At Jokes Made At Their Expense

The 81st Golden Globes, marking the onset of the award season, unfolded with a blend of triumphs and controversies (or lack thereof). While the ceremony saw some of the most diverse winners we've seen yet, host Jo Koy faced criticism for his opening monologue, which some said were sexist and inappropriate toward several of the women nominated this year.
"Oppenheimer is based on a 721-page Pulitzer Prize-winning book about the Manhattan Project, and Barbie is on a plastic doll with big boobies,” Koy said on stage. "The key moment in Barbie is when she goes from perfect beauty to bad breath, cellulite, and flat feet. Or what casting directors call 'character actor'!"
The camera immediately panned to the faces of the Barbie cast and crew, including co-writer and nominated director Greta Gerwig, who looked unamused. Best Supporting Actor nominee Ryan Gosling, who starred as Ken, also looked unimpressed.
Koy also decided to come for pop icon Taylor Swift (which was his first mistake because he now faces the wrath of Swifties), joking, "The big difference between the Golden Globes and the NFL? At the Golden Globes, we have fewer camera shots of Taylor Swift." She sat deadpan, taking a sip of her wine instead of offering any hint of a chuckle.
In response to the criticism, Koy, who was announced as the host just two weeks before the ceremony, acknowledged on Good Morning America that some of his jokes fell short. "The Taylor one was just a little flat ... it was more of a jab towards the NFL. It just didn't come out that way," he said.
But while plenty has been said about how Koy missed the mark and single-handedly reaffirmed the core message of Barbie and how it's impossible to be a woman in today's society, I think we should be a bit more concerned about some couch critics' reactions.
Already in my daily social media scroll, I've seen far too much commentary about how Pedro Pascal has the ability to take a joke (referring to Succession actor Kieran Culkin, who beat The Last Of Us Star in Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, sledging him on stage) and that women like Gerwig and Swift should take a leaf from his book. "This is how you react to a joke btw," one comment on TikTok read. "Send this to Taylor Swift," and, "It was funny and spot on," others said.
While many have swiftly come to the women's defense (don't mess with a cohort of people who played with Barbies as children and know every song from Taylor Swift's discography), what's interesting is that there haven't been any comments directed at Gosling, whose reaction was exactly the same as the women's (and 100% warranted). No one has questioned his reaction.
We've certainly made progress as a society, but it's disheartening to see the persistence of age-old stereotypes dictating how women are expected to respond to jokes at their expense. A man can slap another at an awards show, but if a woman doesn't laugh, she can't take a joke. We're expected to laugh. Smile through it. Be polite. After all, it's not that serious! Why can't we take a joke?! In Swift's own words in an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, "A man is allowed to react. A woman can only overreact."
In the same year that celebrated bows, girlhood, and women, the Golden Globes thought it would be funny to platform someone who proceeded to make sexist and misogynistic jokes. Yet, it's somehow women's fault for not indulging men's misogyny. If it's just a joke, then why aren't we laughing?
This story originally appeared on Refinery29 Australia.

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