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Too Much Frivolity, Not Enough Femininity: A Study of Gender and Humor at the U.S. Supreme Court

25 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2013  

Ryan A. Malphurs

Texas A&M University

Jaime Bochantin

DePaul University

L. Hailey Drescher

University of Kansas; University of Kansas

Melissa Wallace Framer

Arizona State University, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication

Date Written: October 3, 2013

Abstract

The four authors in this study took on the exhilarating task of listening to 79 oral arguments in the Supreme Court’s 2011-2012 term. After two years spent recovering from oral argument overload, the authors have prepared a study that ingeniously tricks readers into reading a study on humor that is really about gender inequality at the Supreme Court and in the field of Law. Initially tallying instances of un-transcribed laughter, the authors — prompted by Hillary Clinton’s urging — began noticing gender and humor discrepancies between the justices and the advocates; what started as a simple humor tabulation devolved into important research. In the following study, the authors lull readers into complacency by offering data related to humor, but then shock their audience with serious data about gender inequality — ruining any fun that readers might have had. It’s true the authors show that the Supreme Court is far funnier than previously thought, and that Justice Scalia enjoys bullying Justice Breyer; however, potential readers should turn back now, because what follows is mind numbing boredom and “PC” discussions about gender veiled within a “humor” study.

The authors would like readers to know that the following study, if you haven’t been able to tell already, does not follow traditional scholarly conventions. “Why?” you may ask, because it would be boring and no one would read it, duh. The authors have endeavored to make this study both interesting in the data and entertaining to read — a truly ground-breaking feat in scholarly studies. Great risk comes with great rewards, and we’re just hoping someone other than ourselves will read this study.

Keywords: Supreme Court, Humor, Gender, Law, Rhetoric, Discourse

Suggested Citation

Malphurs, Ryan A. and Bochantin, Jaime and Drescher, L. Hailey and Framer, Melissa Wallace, Too Much Frivolity, Not Enough Femininity: A Study of Gender and Humor at the U.S. Supreme Court (October 3, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2335613 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2335613

Ryan A. Malphurs (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University ( email )

Langford Building A
798 Ross St.
College Station, TX 77843-3137
United States

Jaime Bochantin

DePaul University ( email )

1 East Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604
United States

L. Hailey Drescher

University of Kansas ( email )

1415
Lawrence, KS 66045
United States

University of Kansas ( email )

1450 Jayhawk Blvd.
Lawrence, KS 66045
United States

Melissa Wallace Framer

Arizona State University, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication ( email )

Farmer Building 440G PO Box 872011
Tempe, AZ 85287
United States

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