Comedy and Humour

The Hypatia collection features a significant number of sources related to women’s humour.

Since the beginning of the feminist movement, which developed momentum throughout the twentieth century, humour has become an outlet through which women could challenge cultural norms and express their dissatisfaction with persisting patriarchal societies. This humour is often satirical in nature, poking fun at expectations of what a woman should be and how she should act.

The collection holds many sources from the 1990s; the rise in popularity of satirical humour coincided with the third wave of feminism, which emphasised individualism. Furthermore, there are a wide range of authors from different ethnic and social backgrounds in the collection, which enables an extensive perspective on all women’s humour.

In the collection there are examples of feminist works which mock the style and format of works that represent patriarchal views. This includes instruction books such as A Woman's Little Instruction Book 200 secrets to help you sort out the men in your life - and the life in your men which mimics and satirises instruction books from the earlier 20th century detailing how women should act.  There is also a book called Untamed tongues full of quotes from over a hundred women on their views on life, this book offers a unique insight into the uncensored opinions of those who are often silenced. Moreover, The Naked Ape provides an interesting collection of overtly sexist newspaper headlines and articles that were produced in Britain throughout the twentieth century. The response to such articles demonstrates that male assumptions of women were often laughable.


Clare Southworth

Isaac Avery

Sophie Hammond