There’s an old joke which goes “How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?” Give up? The answer is: “That’s not funny!” True, we feminists are known more for our other qualities than our humor, but we sure do appreciate some good irony when we see it.
For example, a story in the Prague Monitor describes the experience of British feminist speaker Annette Lawson’s recent trip to Prague to discuss gender equality in Parliament. According to Lawson, the first “welcome” she saw in the country was a giant nude billboard of a Thai woman advertising erotic massage.
This image was especially disconcerting to Lawson since she has frequently addressed sex trafficking of Thai women into massage parlors as part of the European Women’s Lobby. No wonder gender equality is suffering in
Prague, when this is the first view of women presented to foreign visitors.
I was intrigued by the brief blurb I read so I expanded the whole article. Lo and behold, what was the main advertisement on the webpage but a half-naked Thai woman advertising Thai massage! It seems web advertisements for commercial erotic services are so prevalent these days, they can even be found attached to articles denouncing those same services as a gross human rights violation. It’s the funny sort of irony that can’t be invented, like advertising cigarettes attached to an article about the health risks of smoking. I thought of the ironic juxtaposition of these two sides of erotic massage and imagined the man who would have read the article, instead of clicking on the ad.
I imagined 5,000 men doing that, and the advertising decision of this company actually losing them money. I imagined, because of that, a little Thai girl growing up far away from any massage parlor or brothel. And, well, that image made this feminist laugh.