From One Laughing-Like-a-Hyena Woman to Another

Whether it is Renuka Chowdhary or Hillary Clinton, women have had to face severe admonishing for laughing out loud.

4 min read
From One Laughing-Like-a-Hyena Woman to Another

I am not an ordinary nari, I am what you can call, a na-hahahahhaha-ri. I laugh frequently and loud, and have often been told that my shrieking laughter resembles that of a hyena. Upon googling the words “hyena-laugh”, I found out that the comment was not in the least meant to flatter me.

While still young, I was asked by well-meaning relatives to laugh like a lady, gently.“Nothing more than a subtle chuckle, Divyani, and that too with the left hand covering your mouth.”

But obedience was never a strong virtue of mine. The audience still remains divided between, “You laugh like a witch,” and “Your laughter is kind of cute,” the latter comment made solely by friends acting on their biases.

And so, with that unsolicited three-para-personal information, I begin my note. From one stree-hehehehhehe, to another. A laughter guide, if you will. Each lesson comes with a real-life example, so that all you girls and women reading this can responsibly choose between a giggle and a guffaw.

By the end of this piece, dear reader, you will have learnt how to effectively laugh, in a way that doesn’t offend any man.


1. Don’t Cackle, or You Will Be Suspected of Having ‘Mental Health Issues’

Number One, while in Rajya Sabha or the Upper House of the Parliament, at all costs control your laughter. Let the male MPs indulge in sexist humour, banging their desks and whatnot. But you must, at all costs, keep your trap tightly shut.

If as a woman, you make the mistake of laughing loudly in the Rajya Sabha, you could be suspected of having ‘mental health issues’. Something that happened to Renuka Chowdhary, a Congress MP who let out a loud cackle as the Prime Minister was speaking.

For which Kiran Rijiju, Union Minister of State for Home, likened her to Soorpanakha, a character from Ramayana who is projected as a ‘loose’ woman. Your behaviour, too, could be termed “loose, dark and unruly,” for simply laughing out loud.

My advice: Hide that laugh with your thick pallu.

2. When Running for President, Don’t Indulge in any Hahas Whatsoever

My lesson number two, if you are running for President, you MUST, and I cannot stress this enough, do whatever it takes to hold back the hahahas.

Much before being called ‘Nasty Woman’, Hillary Clinton’s laughter had already earned her the moniker, ‘Shrillary’. Her laughter was called ‘loud’, ‘inappropriate’, ‘evil’, ‘chilling’ and ‘frightening’, among other things.

Mean digs over her laughter were taken by both the Republican National Committee and the conservative American media. The subsequent election result made it clear that when it comes to choosing between unrestrained laughter or tweets that could potentially cause a nuclear attack, Americans found Hillary’s hahas a far graver problem.


3. Laugh at a Man, At Your Own Risk

When committing the grave crime of laughing at a man, think twice. Like Princess Mainakini of Sinhala, you could be severely cursed and banished to a land without men. Although you will be spared the attendant relationship troubles, you will have literally no other options, and absolutely no one to Netflix and Chill with. Is that truly a risk you want to take?


4. End the Moral Decline of Society. Ladies, Stop Laughing

Your loud laughter could cause the moral decline of a society, as noted by this gentleman. And no, there’s no LOL in that sentence.

So act responsible and self-police your laughter in public gatherings.

But most importantly. Beware. For your unrestrained, uninhibited laughter can rattle men. If they see you as an opponent, they will belittle you. Take digs at you. Attack you. And dehumanise you for the way you laugh.

They will call you a man. Compare you to a demoness, just because your laughter seems aggressive to them, and does not necessarily fit into the limiting mould of performative femininity.

Be also very mindful, woman, that laughing at a man will be considered an act of undermining his patriarchal authority; for him, an ultimate insult, and hence invite his severe wrath.

The rules of society are such that they have made a woman’s laughter permissible only when it is remote-controlled by a man. Guys often make women laugh to get inside their pants. That’s evolutionary biology. But if a woman laughs with another guy, she is labeled ‘easy’ and ‘loose’.

But just think for a second, that if your laughter is so tightly controlled, wouldn’t letting it loose and reclaiming it set you free in the process? With that I come to my last lesson. Forget all the ones you read earlier, and set your smile and yourself free. No kidding.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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