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Jenny Slate
Jenny Slate in Obvious Child

The world thinks funny women are less deserving of love

There’s serious surprise surrounding rumours that Jenny Slate is dating Jon Hamm, because ‘offbeat’ women are somehow less desirable

When I was seven, I was told in no uncertain terms by my year three teacher that: “boys don’t like funny girls”. I was very likely acting up and attention seeking by being a glib little brat, but she chose to tackle that by telling a child that she would never get shagged if she carried on trying to make people laugh. It was something I was told repeatedly through the coming years, by magazines, teachers, and family members – alternated with being told that women can’t be funny, anyway, so why bother?

Actress and comedian Jenny Slate is very, very funny – and as of late, she’s had a few boys liking her. Following the news that she may very well be dating Mad Men star Jon Hamm, some bleaker corners of the internet are up in arms with cries of: “her?”. It’s something that Slate has experienced more than her fair share of, having relatively recently come out of a relationship with hunk-of-hunks Chris Evans. As soon as fans received news that the pair could be dating, Slate’s Instagram was awash with comments from people who hadn’t even heard of her until she stole their fantasy boyfriend. Some were kind, but mostly they ranged from “this is her?! Really?” right the way up through calling Slate ugly to (and these have been deleted for their abusive content) anti-semitic comments.

And yeah, perhaps on first glance the pairing of a super-buff Hollywood Chris and a more indie comedienne seem like a weird pair. Jenny Slate may be a beautiful, kind, hilarious and accomplished actress with a ton of massive credits under her belt – but she isn’t a supermodel. She isn’t Jessica Biel. She makes jokes about shit and weed and just how Jewish she is. Not one of those things makes her any less viable for a relationship with anyone – and yet... Even kind headlines act surprised, as if two single costars on a film hooking up is anything new. Or as if she’s running some kind of trick on Hollywood men and deliberately racking up numbers. Tweets are more supportive this time around, but still, there is that ugly streak of judgement.

In a now very famous Vulture profile, Jenny Slate made it clear that she is aware of the surprise that followed her and Chris Evans hooking up. She said: “to be quite honest, I didn’t think I was his type. Eventually, when it was like, Oh, you have these feelings for me?, I was looking around like, Is this a prank? I mean, I understand why I think I’m beautiful, but if you’ve had a certain lifestyle and I’m a very, very different type of person – I don’t want to be an experiment.”

Slate, who has appeared in Obvious Child, Girls, Parks and Rec, and more, is a woman who has achieved a lot. As is evident in the very same Vulture profile, she is also effervescent and kind and genuine in a way that many of us could only hope to achieve. She is, to put it simply, a fucking catch. But we are told that women who are funny and ‘offbeat’ are somehow less desirable. When they are desirable, men act as if it's favour to those women, or that they're making the 'weird' or more progressive choice. Slate is aware of this, too, and in the Vulture profile said she’s aware that, “I’m considered some sort of alternative option, even though I know I’m a majorly vibrant sexual being.”

After reading depressing article after depressing study about how little men desire funny women and how little we perceive them to be desirable, I wanted to speak to some experts. I asked Jo Barnett, a dating and relationship coach, whether it’s true that men find funny women less attractive. She told me: “in my experience as a dating and relationship coach, I can tell you that women who are funny will often get put in the friend zone. Why is this? It’s because men like women who will give them a bit of a run around, and whist she is making him laugh there is also less chase and demure behaviour. The girl who is funny and a good laugh may be associated with his best mate having a few pints at the pub”.

And that’s it, isn’t it, really – men, at least old-fashioned ones, want us to be proper and sit with our hands in our laps and do everything they say but still be effortlessly stunning and want to shag all the time. Being ‘funny’ oftentimes goes hand-in-hand with being brash, loud, uncouth. Not that any funny woman would want to be with a man who didn’t let her smash pints and have a laugh, anyway, but it’s the principle.

There is also a darker side to the criticism that Slate receives when she dates these men. When she dated Evans, along with the disbelief and general rudeness, there are also comments full of grotesque, albeit not always immediately clear, anti-semitism briefly adorning Slate’s Instagram posts before they were deleted. Because it isn’t just her being funny or offbeat that makes her ugly to these people – it’s her features and it’s the heritage that a lot of her comedy discusses that make her somehow less worthy of dating a white bread American actor. Earlier this year, when in a Twitter argument with Chris Evans, David Duke accused Evans of, “fighting the Zionist wars”. He followed it with a photo of Evans with actresses including Slate and Naomie Harris with the caption: “why does Chris Evans, who plays the Jewish inspired super hero, Captain America, hate the women of his people so much? #WhiteGenocide”.

That, of course, isn’t to say that every single person who is surprised when Slate dates high-profile actors is an anti-semite. It is, however, a very ugly symptom of what some people perceive to be “not good enough”. This outrage happens whenever men like Hamm or Evans date anyone, but if they’re funny or not supermodels, that outrage is tenfold. There is no reason why they wouldn’t date a stunning, single, hilarious costar. Who’s to say that either of them are even half the human Slate is? Our obsession with celebrity couples leads us to not only make assumptions about who they are or aren’t dating (as Slate and Hamm might not even be) but to scrutinise those pairings and believe that we are in any way entitled to an explanation as to who they’re attracted to and why. Shock and old-fashioned beliefs about the dateability of funny or ‘weird’ women will hopefully fall away in time. The inclination to be anti-semitic when you disagree with an actor’s choice of girlfriend is never fucking acceptable, however, and never will be. For now, mind your own business. They weren’t going to date you, anyway.