Laughing it Off: The Resilience of a Design for Happiness

By Calla Gilson 

I laughed out of the ridicule of the statement. I laughed out of the curiosity of the mentality. I laughed because I could, and I laughed because every woman should.

When I heard the news of Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arınc’s comments this week, I laughed. Despite the sadness that grew in my heart for the serious attrition that his entirely misguided comments indicated, I couldn’t help but laugh at the obscurity of his words:

“She will not laugh in public. She will not be inviting in her attitudes and will protect her chasteness.”

There are serious implications behind the Deputy’s commentary. Reportedly, Arınc and his conservative AKP party have been on a sort of crusade to regain the morality of Turkish women and men. This sort of leadership could prove dangerous for the rights of women in Turkey if future action were to follow up such words of folly.

But there’s something marvelous about the female ability to laugh. For years, researchers claimed that women were happier than men, even laughing as much as 126% more than their male counterparts (Ballantine, 1991). More recently, other studies have turned up contrary results. But in 2012, the University of South Florida investigated into the scientific link of the contrasting claims. The research focused on a gene, known as monoamine oxidase A (MAOA), a determinate of  how the brain processes dopamine and serotonin, the two chemicals responsible for making us smile.  The quantity of this gene in a person determines how quickly these “happiness chemicals” are processed. Therefore, the more copies of the MAOA gene a woman possesses, the likelier she will be to self-report happiness. However, the gene doesn’t work the same for men. The same study, published in the Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, reports that testosterone has a canceling effect that negatates the happiness-promoting powers of MAOA, leaving men neurologically less equipped for the same pattern of happiness.

So truly, women were made to be happy, and to express it in the beautiful language of laughter. Arınc’s countrywomen recognize this beautifully innate power, and responded in the most good-natured of ways. Twitter reportedly exploded with women and men alike, from across the globe,  posting photos in support of the freedom to laugh with the hashtage #direnkakaha, meaning ‘resist laughter’. This brilliant Buzzfeed contributed to the social media presence of those rising against the Deputy’s words.

Really, it’s simple: happiness is woven into the design of the woman. In all her glory she is neurologically wired to be happy. Regardless of who desires to silence us, let us reply with a resounding laugh, knowledgeable of our unconquerable worth.

“Life is worth living as long as there’s a laugh in it.”
― L.M. MontgomeryAnne of Green Gables


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