I am writing about an uncomfortable experience I had this past Friday on campus. Chinedu Unaka, a successful stand-up comedian, was performing a show for students, and a friend and I went, expecting to laugh and unwind after a long week. I love comedy, and I have attended other stand-up shows on campus and really enjoyed them.
Unaka opened with a joke about how his girlfriend gets “crazy” on her period. This joke hit close to home—not in a good way. I myself have been forced into this stereotype, and so has basically every other person I know with a uterus. The stereotype invalidates our leadership and makes us seem irrational when we are not. It’s straight-up not true, and it’s offensive.
I didn’t laugh at the joke. And Unaka called me out for it.
“What’s the matter, Plaid?” (I was wearing plaid).
“Not funny to you?” I shrugged. He continued with the show.
It wasn’t funny to me. Not only was the joke degrading (made more so by his seeming inability to accept the fact that people might find it offensive), but it wasn’t original or even interesting. I saw Kiran Deol, another stand-up comedian, perform here, and as part of her routine she made fun of (heterosexual, cisgender) male comics, saying that they inevitably joke about periods or penises. Unaka did just this. Come on, guys! Prove your stereotype wrong!
Unaka later said some interesting things, but his opening ruined the show for me. I don’t know why he chose to open with that, and I even felt that maybe there was something I was missing, that I should just “take a joke” and stop being so sensitive. After some thought, I realized that I didn’t need to know why. By making the joke at all, he was reinforcing an offensive stereotype, and I am allowed to let that bother me.
I think we should have MORE period jokes on campus, but delivered by people that actually have periods. There’s so many other funny things about them!