On Saturday, April 9 I will be presenting at the LVAIC Women’s and Gender Studies Conference on sexism in humor. This is a very personal topic for me and a topic that I’ve felt passionately about for years – even before coming to college and taking Women’s and Gender Studies courses. This is a topic that, in the past, I’ve felt strongly about but haven’t completely known how to talk about it in an appropriate, active way.
The article I read this week is by Thomas E Ford called, “Effects of Exposure to Sexist Humor on Perceptions of Normative Tolerance of Sexism.” The article really hit on how I feel and react to sexist humor. There were a few points that Ford mentioned that encompass what I want people to take out of my presentation at the LVAIC Conference.
“Accordingly, suggested that by making light of the expression of sexism, sexist humor communicates a’meta- message’ or normative standard that, in this context, sexism need not be taken seriously or scrutinized in a critical manner.”
By making light of a sexist joke, remark or conversation, we are essentially ignoring a very real problem in our society. People think that making these comments is okay, they think it’s normal. And it shouldn’t be. Think about it: when you hear a sexist joke or remark, what do you do? Do you ignore it or do you say something? If we’re ignoring it, aren’t we also to blame for perpetuating sexism?
I see this like I see bullying. Let’s say you saw someone being bullied, you’d step in and say to stop and that it’s wrong. Aren’t sexist jokes, remarks, etc. just like this? When I hear something derogatory about women and I know it’s in my power to stand up and say, “Hey, that’s not right. Stop,” I do. And I think it’s important to do so.
“The receiver’s acceptance of the sexist humor, then, contributes to the construction of an implicit local norm of tolerance of sexism.”
The above picture is one of many that lined Google after searching “sexism in humor.” Go ahead, try it. It’s ridiculous and demeaning, but I can honestly say that I have heard all of the jokes on the first page of that search and the one I pulled for this post is one of the less sexualizing of the jokes.
I want to hear from you guys: how do you feel when you hear a sexist joke or remark? Do you say something about it?