It's Still Not Funny: Thoughts on Sexist Jokes
From the title, the perception is almost expected. Another angry woman is writing a post. The underlying purpose of a joke is to amuse, while humor speaks of how something can cause amusement or be comical. With the definition out of the way, if a “go make me a sandwich” joke is only funny to a small proportion of people, we have to stop and question the legitimacy of the joke itself.
Some jokes are not universal. Making racist “jokes” can be funny in one group. If one person and other like-minded individuals were asked to make the same joke facing the entire population the joke encompasses and their supporters, they are unlikely to in fear of what would befall them. But somehow, when it is women and other marginalized groups, there seem not to be a similar reverence.
“It is just a joke,” and other dismissive remarks prove a point, but not the one the person intends. Dismissing a woman’s reaction, feeling and subsequent thoughts is the refusal to accept most of their humanity, especially if more than one woman (and other men) has pointed out the sexism in the joke. It also shows that the person cannot, or will not make a critical assessment of what makes the joke, well, offensive.
However, we need also to address the women. “Locker room banter” found some defending perpetrators as “just being boys” and it being normal. The narrative is the same happens everywhere; from a men’s barber shop Toronto has, to the men’s club in South Africa. The argument is, therefore, this: slavery, women’s inability to vote, segregation, ethnic cleansing, and religious wars were also once considered “normal.” The brushing off of something under the rug because it is the norm does not make it right. What it instead shows is the lack of moral courage to call a spade a spade, not a big spoon.
Perhaps these thoughts are in an echo chamber; maybe they will fall on the ears of those who can bring change. What the fact remains is that women cannot be complacent when it comes to correcting the men around us. While the responsibility of not telling a sexist joke falls on the person saying it, more women need to call it out and not stay silent. It is understandable that a lot of women have been taunted into silence, but conforming is more damaging. It affirms to the speaker they are right, or they can get away with it.
To the speaker still; sexist jokes are not funny. They have never been. They are an indication of their “okay-ness” with stereotyping, being discriminatory and prejudice towards women. If you are going to make a sexist joke at least own what you are. A sexist.