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  • Writer's pictureAarthy Iyengar

Sexist Jokes

This is a topic that I felt especially needs addressing. There has been a long tradition in our society of making fun of the plight of women in the name of humor, be it standup comedy on the television or WhatsApp forwards of sexist jokes which are commonplace. I thought this needs to be talked about in this women’s day month, also because in this current scenario of alternative lockdown and restricted movement, forwards containing such jokes are on an all-time high. I am not here to say that only women are victims of such jokes, even men are ridiculed in multiple instances but mostly these jokes revolve around gender roles. A man doing the household chores is the biggest comedy and implies a bossy wife. Men being emotionally expressive is also a common theme for such jokes.

Such jokes entrench deep gender stereotypes in the minds of the readers. They are often forwarded by married, educated people who have children who in turn engrain such ideas. Let me give you an example, in recent times a joke went viral, it went like, a book was sold a million copies because of a single spelling error, the title read as “how to manage wife” instead of “how to manage life” and there were people laughing and forwarding this joke. Most of these jokes portray women as free riders, who keep nudging their husbands for money. Why would a woman who understands practicality and is capable enough to pay her own bills ever do that in real life?

These jokes are demeaning and insulting. One might argue that it's just a joke and should be taken lightly. When anything is so degrading, it loses its funny component. What is a joke about when no one's laughing? Making fun of the exploitation and treatment as second-class citizens experienced by women is dark and misogynistic. Rape jokes are even worse. People often call the genuine anguish and anger of women as being emotionally sensitive or as PMSing, all this sounds ridiculous. Can’t women have a mind of their own and be opinionated? I would say sexism is no different than blatant oppression and discrimination.

Women's sexuality has been something stigmatized for a long while now. Making fun of their body and appearance is no longer acceptable. Sexist jokes are identified by their tones which are rather insulting and hurtful to any gender. They are especially hurtful and disturbing to the emotional health of the women who work and day and night to earn their name and independence in society. We could stop this practice in two ways, one is by being conscious of what we find funny and secondly by pledging not to forward or encourage any such jokes sent on family and friends’ groups. We could voice ourselves against those who forward such jokes but I understand it’s not always possible. We just could make it explicit that jokes are acceptable but insults disguised as jokes are not by the above mentioned two ways.

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