Are sexist jokes okay?

Some would dismiss the thought and say,

Relax! It’s just a joke.

But is it? Is it okay to shatter someone’s confidence and blow it away with a laughter? Is it okay to demean somebody’s self-esteem and dissolve into amusement with it? Don’t be too quick to judge me for someone against jokes.

Back in time, when feminism was no word, people would undermine women by their comments which probably originated via their mentality. It reflected the way they portrayed them. Nobody would argue for disrespectful remark. Also, nobody would claim it to be a joke. But today people might. Today, there’s a lot of awareness about how we have inherited these mental constructs from our ancestors. I am mostly talking about the sector of society that is at least aware of and supports equal rights and empowerment for women. Obviously, there is a huge set which is lagging way behind, but let’s not get to them. People might say something mean, something discriminating but frame it as a joke. In many cases, they are lying and in many others they might not be. We joke all the time about the tragic historical events, customs, battles etc. So, why am I emphasizing more on the jokes made against women?

We as women, face comments or assumptions made about us at workplace as well as in casual gatherings. We even get struck upon by comments put as jokes which in literal sense are regressive. Jokes are not supposed to be taken literally, agreed. But, unknowingly these jokes might be pulling someone’s confidence down. Yes, the last thing women want is pity and hence we take jokes in a healthy way. However, I feel this behavior still might sow some seeds of sexism. Sometimes, certain actions done, even in a funny way may tend to normalize that type of behavior in our minds and come across as if it’s okay to do so especially in workplace. Also, in an informal setting we might be so comfortable with cracking such jokes around our friends that when put in a new set of people, those words and thoughts are so engraved in our minds that we are unable to control them. When asked one might always say the right thing and might be against sexism but the subconscious mind has so many words and actions that are fed to it as a normal behavior that we can’t manage the outbursts of these. The point being, making such remarks so casually among our friends who we know in and out might make our mind learn it as an acceptable behavior. It might become a part of our body language, how we talk, how we understand. I am just trying to give benefit of doubt to many people who crack sexist jokes. I feel many of them would agree that they don’t mean them. And, some might actually be of that kind but try to wrap it up in a joke.

You might be unknowingly making difficult for someone to believe that they are not being discriminated against or perceived as below others. Moreover, parents engaging in such referred to as funny conversations might plant these thoughts in their too young children. What is it that we can do differently to tackle it?

I am not against cracking jokes. The last thing I want is to be treated differently. But, we are still in a phase of transition. We are trying to take world forward from a state of no rights, no respect to equal shares of both. In the process, someone might be ahead of others. It just makes me wonder how these “jokes” or sarcastic comments might affect. I question myself to know what is the alternative? Does it slow down the process? Does it give some the entitlement of disrespecting others by hiding under a cover of laughter? Does it make this behavior okay? Should it be opposed the very first time it happens to you?