How to Identify and Respond to Sexist Jokes?
“Why are you getting so uptight or rude about it? This is just a joke.” No, it isn’t just a joke, and no one should take this lightly because these jokes promote and enable the sexist beliefs and patriarchal ideology of our society. It is a way bigger deal than what we make it to be. We live in a society where casually forwarding sexist jokes on WhatsApp or/and sharing them on social media is alright and light fun, helping the patriarchal ideology and sexism sustain our minds.
An example of one such sexist joke is: A man asks, “God, why did you make women so beautiful?” God responded, “So you would love her.” The man asks, “But God, why did you make her so dumb?” to which God replied, “So she would love you.” This joke is extremely sexist, and it assumes that God made every woman beautiful so others, especially men, would love her. It also interprets that all women are dumb, or if a woman is beautiful, she is definitely dumb.
All these jokes are sadly circulated by married, educated and working couples with children. It is frightening to know that if they enjoy such jokes, what are they teaching the future generation, and why is it still okay to joke on an entire gender and categorize/ labelling them as negative things. Is the hate towards women so deeply rooted that it is okay to joke about it?
These sexist jokes demean the wife or girlfriends most of the time, and these jokes can also be seen across most of the social media platforms as video content. The joke might be seen as just a joke, and it is just for fun, but you know what is not funny? Demeaning an entire gender on stereotypical thoughts like women should clean, women should be homely, and women cannot drive.
Here are some steps to identify sexist jokes:
- Is it demeaning women?
- Does it shame women in any way?
- Does it make women look small and meaningless?
- Does it objectify women?
- Is it based on stereotypical views and ideas?
- Is it in any way promoting toxic masculinity?
If the answer to one or more above-mentioned questions is a yes, then it is definitely a sexist joke.
Psychologist Derald Sue, from Columbia University, defines microaggression that leads to such sexist jokes as “everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.”
We need to stand up against these jokes. We need to stop entertaining such types of content online and in real life. If we continue the culture of sharing, liking and encouraging such sexist jokes, then we are not a part of the progressive society; instead, we are helping the patriarchal society sustain.
Here is how you should respond to sexist jokes and address the issue:
Please Note: Do not attack someone calling them a sexist; they wouldn’t learn the right and wrong from that conversation; instead, they will get defensive and start shooting.
Step 1: No matter what, do not lose your temper; as soon as you lose your temper, you become a part of the conflict instead of the solution. Tell them calmly why this is wrong.
Step 2: Make them understand how sexist jokes and comments feed the patriarchal society and are actually toxic for both men and women because it limits their growth outside of the sexist ideology.
Step 3: They might react negatively and tell you-you are too uptight but don’t let them stop you from putting your point across. You might lose that person, but others might learn how it is not okay to joke about sexist things.
Step 4: Cut off the toxic people who react negatively to you, taking a stand for what you feel is right. Realize that it is just how they are, and nothing can change them. You do not have to fix their ideology.
Realize you do not have to react or laugh at these jokes. You should stand up and tell them it isn’t right and help them understand how it is hurtful and wrong to promote sexist jokes.