Women's View of Humor: Gülse Birsel's ‘Jet Society’ TV Series
The act of laughing, which is thought to be related with the body rather than the mind and identified with rudeness, has been attributed to outcast segments of society, such as women, children, slaves, or the common-people, while humor requiring supremacy of the mind is believed to be associated with the ruling elite class of society, and mostly with men. There is a judgment that humor can only be produced by men and that women do not understand humor and that they lack a creative sense of humor and perception, and it has become established that women can only be the laughing party, though not always. Crawford and Gressley (1991) also criticize numerous experimental studies in which women are called an inadequate group with neither the ability to create humor nor the sense of humor necessary to appreciate it. Furthermore, it has been observed that humor is constructed with a masculine language (Sanders, 2019, p. 211), and that humor is structured in a way that strengthens negative stereotypes about women and other disadvantaged groups (Lovaglia et al, 2008). However, humor offers an important area of freedom to question the dominant structures, to shake them, and to show resistance to the power/dominant elements. Many philosophers from Bergson to Bakhtin emphasize the relationship with power as a field of resistance while defining the field of laughter and humor. The most important references to humor, from a feminist perspective, are related to the nature of humor that challenges dominant ideological discourses. This paper focuses on Gülse Birsel as a sitcom writer in terms of the changing woman-humor relationship alongside social change in Turkey. When we scrutinize women over a wide time frame from a cartoonist in the comic magazines of the late 1980s to today’s female stand up comics who create critical humor, it can be asserted that Gülse Birsel’s sitcoms may represent a significant turning point in Turkey concerning women’s relationship with humor. We can assert that Gülse Birsel’s television sitcom may represent a significant turning point in Turkey concerning women's relationship with humor. Birsel critically discusses the stereotypes and positions of men and women, as well as the sitcom series, where the critical approach to class distinction and a rich-poor dichotomy becomes apparent. Within this context, we can say that although Gülse Birsel's humor is a part of popular culture, she produces a critical discourse which has a strong influence in terms of reaching a wide range of audiences. Although Gülse Birsel's humor benefits from stereotypes, which are shaken by Crawford (1991), it can be said that it has a structure that weakens negative associations and provides an environment conducive to evaluating gender stereotypes in an egalitarian and fair manner outside the restrictive context of gender stereotypes. Within this context, the narrative structure in the ‘Jet Society’ TV series will be examined using a method of critical discourse analysis through the generic characteristics and typage of the sitcom.