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03 April 2013

The thing about sexist jokes

Jennifer Lawrence telling it like it is

Sexist jokes seem to have taken the western world by storm lately, certainly among my age group anyway. The amount of times I’ve been blithely requested to ‘go make a sandwich’ is uncountable, though I suspect if I did actually make them one they’d be disappointed with my offerings; I’m not a sandwich kind of gal. Had they requested pasta, I would have happily obliged, merely on the basis that I’d eat it all before they even got close. Jokes on you, boy. In a way it’s somewhat worrying that adolescent boys feel our presence in the kitchen is representative of our gender stereotype. Sexist jokes, you know the ones: ‘want to know why women’s feet are so small? So they can be closer to the kitchen counter’. Once again the joke is on the boy here, I’m a EU40 and that isn’t ‘so small’. Initially I was put off by such remarks, the whole idea that any person is intrinsically linked to any stereotype is unfair and the fact is should be quite so closely linked to the kitchen is just inane. I think for most women, these jokes are tiresome and if you read too much into them they can be genuinely disturbing. I won’t claim to be a feminist expert, but I’m certainly for equal rights and a lack of discrimination between any kinds of person. So when I first started hearing these jokes, which objectified women and really only made boys laugh, I was irked. How would a boy liked it if I took a ridiculous male stereotype and threw it back at him every now and then, I feel there would definitely be an element of ‘don’t dish it out if you can’t take it’. This in itself is a whole new matter though, but what really started to nag me was when I thought that maybe sexist jokes aren’t as bad as some of us might perceive them to be (except the ones about domestic violence or any kind of violence against women or anyone, those are vile).

Bear with me on this one, though. What struck me is the idea that things that may have been expected of women say, in the 1950’s and even earlier than that, have become the object of humor. I don’t know about anyone else, but surely that’s development in itself? The idea that society has moved from believing in these stereotypes and ridiculous expectations that a woman is only fit for the kitchen to ridiculing them shows how far we’ve come, in an odd sense. Sure, the jokes of off-kilter and yes if you take them seriously they’re offensive, but I have my doubts that any man who requests aforementioned sandwich actually expects you to make one. Think back 70 years, and said woman probably would have been expected to roll out the sandwiches at her husbands command most likely. Ideally these kinds of jokes will fade out because more than anything, they're annoying and the more derogatory ones are out of hand. I think men ought to put themselves in a womens situation when making those kind of jokes, and realize he's probably going to die single if he continues along that path. While it's kind of good that we're ridiculing stereotypes, they're still unnecessary jokes. I also want to make a point that I'm talking about western society. While I don’t doubt that there are still men present who would have malicious intent behind any sexist comments, I think it’s important to remember that while feminism has been upwardly mobile for women in the western world, we are moving into areas of society that used to be typically deemed ‘man cave’. I personally feel like any remaining sexism in Western society is an outward display of insecurity; men are still confined by stereotypes to some extent. As rather bluntly put by Betty Friedan, ‘men are not allowed to cry’. It’s completely acceptable for a woman to either be a business savvy lady or a housewife, or both. Typically men are still expected to work, which is why I don’t know that I’d call myself a feminist. I think that women’s upward mobility has in some way confined some men. Mostly men are just going to have to live with it, because women should be entitled to occupy whatever part of society they please, but I feel if we’re taking that approach then it ought to apply to men as well. I guess it seems off topic, but perhaps that is where sexist jokes came from? I don’t know, women certainly didn’t come up with them. My main point is that the fact we can ridicule female stereotypes shows that in society is outwardly rejecting them as serious concepts, which in my eyes is progress. Besides, next time a man tells you to get back into the kitchen, just gently remind him that’s where the knives are kept.

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17 comments:

  1. You totally remind me of Bridget Jones ;D Your writings are amazing!! Keep going!

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  2. thank you for your point of view! but regarding your comment of "...which is why I don’t know that I’d call myself a feminist" - this sets the feminist movement back. the "f-word" isn't a bad word. it doesn't mean you're a crazy radical. you believe in equality of the sexes, so to reference one of your points, that women AND men are allowed to cry, women AND men are allowed to be CEOs. i get that some feminists seem to bring a negative connotation to the term - men-bashing, etc. but we need more feminists like you who believe in its real meaning. please don't be afraid to admit you're one :)

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    1. I completely agree that Feminism comes with unnecessary negative connotations, real feminism isn't men bashing. What I meant by that is that western society needs to readdress how we coin 21st century feminism, we are fighting for different things than what we were fighting for when it first came about- in the same way we can distinguish between first and second wave feminism, I suppose right now we're in third wave feminism. It's not that I wouldn't call myself a feminist, I just personally feel maybe we need a new term for it so that it can be separated from it's past negative connotations, if that makes sense?

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  3. Love your style of writting babe !!! so truthful !
    xo

    http://franchemeetsfashion.blogspot.cz/

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  4. I love this post. No matter how much women in society fight to be equal to men and prove it, getting asked to make a sandwich or to go in the kitchen is a reoccurring joke. If woman can join the army and fight next to a man, run for president, and be major CEOs of huge corporations, then a man can make his own damn sandwich... we're a little too busy for that.


    xx

    http://spoonfulofdiamonds.com
    http://www.facebook.com/SpoonfulOfDiamonds

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  5. I never really thought of it that way…I too would not call myself a feminist, hey if a guy wants to open the door for me I won't snub him with "I can do it myself!". In today's 21st century society many girls wonder where all the gentlemen are and I think the reality is they got stomped out by these women who linked certain things that they did to certain stereotypes/'the role of the woman'. I think there is a fine line between being equal and independent women in society and accepting some roles that are predestined for our gender. I'm not saying being a homemaker is our predestined role any more than being the CEO of a company, however certain things in life women are made for, that's how God made us and that's why men and women are different. I think being able to differentiate between what we were programmed to do and certain stereotypes mankind has created, will inevitably help us move forward from this "feminist" idea. (I am referring to its negative connotation and not just the idea of being feminist -- your right we need a new word!!)

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    1. I too believe that women and men are different, and while equality is vital, so is embracing what makes us women and what makes men, men! I'm atheist so I don't link this to God, but it is a very good point. Thanks for your comment lovely!

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  6. What do you call a boy who tells sexist jokes?

    Single.

    This was a great read!

    Dusterknuckles | Fashion // Beauty // Lifestyle

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  7. i´m glad anyone else can come with words like these, i´m truly allergic to people saying there is no discrimination any more. that´s just so untrue. just look at the examples like men take averagely 25% more than women in the very same positions plus the higher the position the bigger the difference and i´m talking about western world as well. i don´t wanna come with all the facts i learnt about (i´m gender studies student), but just this number is quite disturbing.

    you can call yourself a feminist if you are against discrimination and if you want equal treating. the thing is that media made feminism a dirty word. it just makes me feel so weak when i hear women saying words against feminism and saying the exact words some stupid media learnt them to say..and i´m not even talking about those people that say feminism is not needed anymore, it´s just so wrong.. i always think like get some information and then talk.

    so thank you for your words) i appreciate reading something like this...really, very much. greetz from prague, leny

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  8. i think boys don't even associate remarks like 'get back to the kitchen' etc with feminism, or say them to directly offend girls. its about the lad culture that dominates our age group. for example, i know some boys who the best part of drunkenly sleeping with a girl is running back to their 'wolfpack' to tell them all about it. you can see this will all the UniLad shit that makes jokes and tells stories, its ALL about telling their friends for bant about stuff they did with girls. this makes me think that sexist jokes obviously originate from past discrimination against women, but now stem from 'lad culture'. just some food for thought!

    i definitely agree with you that feminism needs a new term. i've heard girls openly cackle and say how ridiculous a feminist is..
    xx

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  9. Joana CardosoApril 05, 2013

    Oh! You've just described my own point of view! It's nice too see that I'm not the only one who think that way

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  10. You speak so much sense that it actually kills me

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  11. Camilla this was hilarious and I guess I'm just going to echo what another reader said. I have a lot of friends that don't self-identify as feminists for the very reason you noted (that it's riddled with negative stereotypes) I think it's good and bad...good because I love the idea of feminist ideas sneaking into public without sounding off the misandry alarms the way the label feminist/feminism does (even though they're two different things...HELLO IGNORANCE!) BUT it's also tough for feminists using the label who have to keep explaining/re-explaining "No, we don't hate men etc. etc." because we've sort of given up on the term. The whole movement started before you and I were even born and I sort of like the idea of extending its legacy but that process can be so problematic when you you self-identify as a feminist and are immediately cut off by the O'Reillys and Limbaughs of the world. Fuck those guys. I just wish everyone go back to the books and read the definition instead of listening to propaganda.

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  12. I love your witty opinions and how you formulate them. Keep it up gal!

    http://suitcasefullypacked.blogspot.be/

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  13. I love your witty opinions and how you formulate them. Keep going gal!

    http://suitcasefullypacked.blogspot.be/

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  14. I love your witty opinions and how you formulate them. Keep it up gal!

    http://suitcasefullypacked.blogspot.be/

    ReplyDelete

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