Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dissecting a Joke, weekly feature

The Joke:
Mother says to daughter: If a boy is getting too frisky, just stop and ask "What will we call the baby?"

"That's a good idea," the girl thinks, so she tries it out.

One day she is making out with a boy and things start to get a little overheated. She stops and says "What are we gonna call the baby?" and the boy bails.

Great she thinks, this works well.

She keeps using this line for a few years till she gets to the point where she is wanting things to go 'too far' herself.

She is making out with her boyfriend on the banks of a fast moving river. Things are getting really racy, he puts on a condom and makes love to her.

When he is done, he takes it off, ties a knot in the end and throws it in the river.

Blissfully dazed and confused, she says 'What will we call the baby?'

He just laughs and says "Babe, if he can get out of that one we'll call him 'Houdini'!"
The Analysis:

- Mothers usually act as mentors to the daughters in courtship. Mothers are more practical because they know love doesn't last, and passion doesn't "put food on the table". Daughters (and sons) may think that their parents are killjoys when it comes to love and sex. The son usually gets guided by his father, and the daughter by the mother. As it is, it is hard to provide sexual advice to one's progeny because it is an aspect of one's personality that one has hidden from them. Secondly, it exposes the father as a sexual being to the daughter, and the mother to the son. That is discomforting.

It is almost impossible for a father to provide sex education to the daughter (and likewise it is very difficult for the mother to provide it to her son). The protection afforded by sexual taboos related to incest kicks in later (in the neural pathways), the arousal and temptation kicks in first. It is dangerous for a father to be close to, and talk about sex, with his adolescent daughter, and for a mother to do so with her son. (The film Spanking the Monkey is an interesting take on this danger).

- To protect one's virginity used to be important due to cultural reasons. But even in modern times, to keep certain aspects of one's sexuality unexplored is a way to preserve curiosity, prolong the tension, test a man's ability to delay his gratification (a sign of maturity and commitment) and to continue the relationship.

- It is hard for conscious thinking to occur in the midst of an affective storm. Mindfulness would be considered perverse (by non-Tantra-ites, admittedly) if it persists in the sexual act. In the novel Disclosure by Michael Crichton, the male protagonist is strongly repulsed when, during foreplay, his partner remains mindful enough to cough. It was not the cough which bothered him, but that the woman was aware enough to do it. An affective storm can be effectively countered by another strong affect. In the joke above, the countering affect to the existing storm of sexual arousal is induced by provoking the fear of commitment.

- A woman (more so than a male, due to biological differences) can be very choosy at a certain age but can get more and more desperate as she gets older. Sexual pleasure is important in itself, and not just as a secondary benefit, for the human female and using it as a "carrot" can be self-defeating after a certain age when the "carrot" is no longer that red and fresh, so to speak.

- The fear (or abhorrence) of commitment is a well-known phenomenon in the human male, and it has obvious biological underpinnings. A child in the relationship makes desertion much harder for the male (mostly due to cultural reasons). Birth control is beneficial for the male in that it keeps away the danger of involuntary commitment (as exemplified in the courtship monologue by the woman in Catherine Breillat's film Brief Crossing), and it is beneficial for the female in that it makes commitment less of a pragmatic need (it still remains an emotional need, however).

- I cannot comment definitely about the differences in post-coital experiencing of the human male and female (more study is needed) but it seems the male experiences lethargy coupled with a relatively higher (compared to the female at that point) awareness level, whereas the female's rational faculties are subdued even as she is relatively more energized. Post-coital affection is a severe demand for a male and it is another way in which a female judges a male's commitment ("Does he like me still, now that he has had his release?")

- The joke derives its humor from the ill-timed pattern kick-in and the post-coital irrationality of the female, coupled with the extreme presence of mind of the male (he manages to be witty, even).

- The male-centric attitude is quite visible (the joke can be considered a misogynist joke). For starters, the non-existent baby is presumed to be a male. Secondly, the sperm is the baby ("if he can get out") and the woman is just a container to nurse it till its birth. Thirdly, the male is in-charge in the love-making act (He "makes love to her").

3 comments:

Siddharth Sharma said...

Post-coital affection is a severe demand for a male and it is another way in which a female judges a male's commitment ("Does he like me still, now that he has had his release?")


I have no idea on how much of the post coital thought process is a product of cultural conditioning. Its not likely to be the way a female in india thinks post coitus. Theres a whole bunch of rather insane culture around human sexuality all over the world.

whoami said...

i think there is one important funny aspect of that joke imo - the houdini.. if one did not know houdini, will it be still funny?

whoami said...

oops.. i see that you have already covered it:
The joke derives its humor from the ill-timed pattern kick-in and the post-coital irrationality of the female, coupled with the extreme presence of mind of the male (he manages to be witty, even).

so pls. ignore my comment.