I can't believe I actually feel compelled to write a blog post on this, but it's clear to me that it must be done.
Sexism is not funny. There. I said it.
It's real, it's relevant, it affects every woman I know. So why is it that we are the butt of so many jokes? Sexism in this culture is running rampant, and it dominates a lot of mainstream humor. My community is a fairly educated and PC group, all told. You'd never hear a racist joke, or a joke about sexual orientation… maybe religion, but only in certain crowds. But a joke about women? No problem! I hate to say it, but this is one area in which our culture needs to change. So often in my life, from the men I feel the safest around, I've heard jokes belittling and targeting women. Often the men telling the joke didn't even realize it, the sexism is that ingrained. When my sister or I spoke up in protest, we were brushed off as being big downers… so serious! Lighten up! It was assumed by these men that because they are such upstanding citizens- men who would never raise a hand against a woman, who are so conscientious in so many ways- that those jokes should get a pass. Well here, let's get this on the record: your jokes are still harmful. No really, they actually affect the way society treats women.
I could go on for a long time about exactly how it is that this sexism has negatively affected me and the women I love. All the times I felt uncomfortable with what was happening- knowing in my bones it all wasn't right. And yet, out of fear of rejection, the psychology of abuse, or simply not having the knowledge of how to string the words together to protest it all… I took it. We all have at some point. Sexism is so woven into this culture- rest assured, it is alive and well. So, that being said, why ever would we joke about such a thing? Why would we encourage the use of humor that clearly degrades women through misrepresentations, the objectification of women's bodies, stereotypes, etc.- especially when such things are not far fetched in the slightest. In fact, ALL of the women I know have been victims of such prejudice at one time or another. Again, I feel silly even having to spell this out for people. IT'S NOT FUNNY.
One of the things that I think has a part to play in this is the notion that we are taking this all a little too seriously. I found this video to be really enlightening:
We all have to do our part to stop this, and the very least we can do is not make light of those issues that are very real to so many of us. In simplest terms- this is not really up for debate. It's simply not funny. Just like, say, the Holocaust wouldn't exactly be the best subject to joke about in front of anyone Jewish (or anyone, but you see my point), jokes that encourage the oppression of women or could possibly desensitize people to the very real issues that women face daily are just not appropriate. It's truly a testament to how far we have to go. Appropriate responses to such jokes should be jaws agape, disgusted looks, etc. If you still don't understand this, just take my word for it. If you are a man, you have an opportunity to learn and to validate and to care for the women you love by simply not accepting this as a form of good humor. What easier way could there be to combat sexism than just simply take the issue seriously?