I have been reading tributes to Joan Rivers for the last three days. Some, like this sign my friend saw in London, are very funny. Nearly all of the tributes acknowledge how Joan Rivers was groundbreaking in comedy.
This is no small feat for a woman. Did you know that there’s research to show that men use humor as a mating tool? That’s right. Women pick men who make them laugh. But there is no mating incentive for women to make men laugh; men don’t think of a good sense of humor as something that makes a woman a good mate.
So really Joan Rivers gave us the idea that women can be good at stuff that doesn’t make them a better mate.
The way I see it, this idea paves the way, more than anything else, for women to feel like it’s okay to work full-time while they have kids. Because let’s be real: two incomes do not make a better life for young kids. There is no way a second parent’s income is making life so great for those kids that it’s better than a parent being home with them. But sometimes both partners feel they need to work in order to be their whole selves.
Joan Rivers is not just about women in comedy. She is about work as self-actualization.
The problem is that in most cases, a parent’s self-actualization competes with a kid’s desire to roam free to learn how they want to learn.
That’s why for me the most memorable comment about Joan Rivers came from Barbara Walters: she said Joan was a fantastic mother.
I see that about Joan, too. Her daughter Melissa is loyal and loving and smart and poised. I want to be like Joan. I want to raise kids who are close to me and who have good self-knowledge. And I want to have work that is about self-actualization, too.
Thank you, Joan Rivers, for showing me it can be done in a big, grand way.