Responding to sexist jokes

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ImageCouple of weeks ago a friend brough to the group ‘Woman 2 Woman Networking’ the following situation, related with sexist and misogynistic jokes:

“Joined a wonderful dance club recently and the only thing bugging me were couple of male member’s jokes that I found extremely disrespectful towards women. Today during the break approached an empty chair and asked: ‘Is this free?’
‘Sure if you can handle our humor’
Me: ‘Well, I’ve been actually wondering whether I can continue in this dance club because of the type of it. I find it quite difficult to support’
Him: ‘You better get used to it. You cannot change the club’

I’m not very quick on the uptake, so only afterwards thought I should have said: ‘That’s true, but I can let you know that I wouldn’t be surprised if there were also other female club members, who find that kind of jokes or comments misogynous, but they just don’t say anything because the majority of us just don’t wanna take a risk of being labelled a surly hag with no sense of humor.'”

I bet this type of situation is familiar to many of us, women and men. While reading it there were several things popping up in my mind, for instance the difficulty to find a ‘good’ answer, the (lack of) readyness in the reaction, the fact that other members in the group might feel the same when confronted with the situation (but no one says anything fearing the judgement from the other – majority? – side), and the difficulty to change the attitudes of those who tel the joke.

I found some interesting materials that might be useful to read. The source of the first one is the ‘No To Violence (NTV), the Male Family Violence Prevention Association’ (Australia): Responding to sexist jokes and comments

The second one is a website called ‘Stop sexist remarks’, and they have some tips on what to do in such situations. You may start to exploring this one: Stopping Sexist Remarks: The 5-Minute Guide

One interesting idea I found in both of them is the goal of responding to such kind of comments; the main objective is not to change the attitude of the person telling the joke, instead it is is to start to raise awareness of the rest of the group (as generally jokes have an audience) and show to the other members that may share the same idea as you (and keep silence) that they are not alone. Furthermore your voice will be another one in joining the choir of voices that stands for women’s rights!

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