Humour has become a socially acceptable vehicle for expressing discrimination. Under the guise of humour, one returns to inadmissible impudent and prejudicial cliches. In some cases, it’s denigrating “humour” at best and hate speech at worst. I was joking isn’t a valid defence to being disrespectful and discriminatory. I know this sounds very odd, but there is such a thing as humour without denigration and victimisation.
When a city councillor writes on social media that women have the right to cook and clean and should stop bitching because they have the right to get slapped around, then after getting in trouble for his words, laughed and says it was just a joke, doesn’t give you a get out of jail card.
When a senator jokes that women are too ugly to rape, he both make lights of violence against women and shows that he doesn’t understand what rape is about.
When men type this kind of joke on a domestic violence Facebook page: “you know what you call a housewife with 2 black eyes? A slow learner”, it says a lot about the individual and none of it is positive.
When young men in University make a poster title “Top Way to Get Away with Rape” and ends with “if you’re afraid the girl might identify you slit her throat”, that’s not funny. The notion that rape is a serious crime which destroys a life didn’t seem to enter the students’ mind.
The kinds of men who find women-in-the-kitchen jokes the height of cutting-edge comedy applaud and congratulate.
Rape jokes and banter has become a disturbing way for men to gain male status, they perpetuate myths about male power, masculinity and dominance.
Verbalising your dissent, rather than simply shaking your head or furrowing your brow. Whatever happens, you will have forced everyone present to consider whether that type of comment is acceptable. If nothing else, this might start a conversation, instead of letting the topic die off with a joke.
Abusers also enjoy making malicious remarks at your expense. These are usually dressed up as “just jokes” so that they can get away with saying appalling things while still maintaining an innocent, cool demeanour. Yet any time you are outraged at an insensitive, harsh remark, you are accused of having no sense of humour. This is a tactic frequently used in verbal abuse. It’s a way to gaslight you into thinking their abuse is a joke. It is important that when this happens, you stand up for yourself and make it clear that you won’t tolerate this type of behaviour.