Not Funny, Redux

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The Happy Feminist, a practicing attorney, posted a story about a work-related experience she had that involved a “joke” that few feminists would find amusing. Below is an excerpt:

Back in 1999, when I was a 27 year old prosecutor, I attended a week-long trial advocacy seminar for prosecutors from around the United States. My group had about 10 young prosecutors and 3 instructors who were experienced trial lawyers. We spent the week doing mock trial exercises and being videotaped and critiqued. I learned a great deal and it was great to meet other professionals in my line of work. At the end of the week, I got to take home the videotape of all my mock trial performances. I remember liking everyone involved in the project and feeling that we all got along well in a fun but professional setting. There was no sexual banter during the course of the week.

At the end, the three instructors gave out gag gifts for all the students, which we opened while being videotaped. Most of the gifts were fairly innocuous as I recall. One guy got a can of hair gel because his hair was always slicked back. As he opened it, I remember worrying that he might be hurt or offended that people were laughing at his hair. My gift was last because it was, I was told, one of the funniest. When it was my turn, I opened the gift in a kind of nervous but pleasurable flutter because I couldn’t imagine what the instructors had noticed about me that they would link to a gag gift.

I ripped open the wrapping to find . . . a beret and a cigar.

You can (and should!) read the entire post here. An anonymous contributor adds:

“I once received a toilet seat as a gag gift at a law firm party, because I was viewed as spending a lot of time in the women’s restroom. It was true, I had been spending a lot of time in the firm bathroom in the weeks leading up to the fun-filled event. I was changing blood soaked sanitary napkins with great frequency because I had had a miscarriage.”

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3 Responses to Not Funny, Redux

  1. Q. Pheevr says:

    I had to read the original post to learn what the significance of the gag gift was. (“A beret and a cigar?” I wondered. “Does that have something to do with Jacques Lacan?” Which would certainly have the potential to be insulting, although not in an obviously anti-feminist way.) But yeah, that’s very not funny, especially given the blind-siding way in which it was delivered.

    And the bathroom one, too. Did it not occur to these people that there might be a good reason she was spending so much time in the washroom, and that if there was, it would pretty much have to be a rather personal one?

  2. Ann Bartow says:

    “Gag awards” are a fairly widespread tactic through which to launch hostile attacks on co-workers, and they are quite popular among lawyers. Most are the direct and intended consequence of pure meanness, with “obliviousness” raised as a defense as necessary for CYA reasons, as is the question, “Can’t you take a joke?”

  3. kathy a says:

    oh, these are terrible stories.

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