Sexist Jokes Provokes Tolerance of Violence Towards Women

In an interesting study, the results showed that telling sexist jokes creates an atmosphere where violence towards women is tolerable or perhaps acceptable.  In a way, it doesn’t surprise me.  I’ve talked about language and equality in a previous blog suggesting that language creates what world you’re living in.

However, I would like to see the results.  Anthropologically speaking, men ususally tell jokes, particularly sexual jokes, not because they are sexist, but because it’s a form of camaraderie.  So if the results could indeed show that the men were more likely to be sexist in their everyday lives, then the studies have got something.  However, it seems that the study has ignored that.

About shaunmiller

I have just completed a visiting position as an assistant professor at Dalhousie University. My ideas are not associated with my employer; they are expressions of my own thoughts and ideas. Some of them are just musings while others could be serious discussions that could turn into a bigger project. Besides philosophy, I enjoy martial arts (Kuk Sool Won), playing my violin, enjoying coffee around town, and experimenting with new food.
This entry was posted in Humor, Language, Relationships, Respect, Sexuality. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Sexist Jokes Provokes Tolerance of Violence Towards Women

  1. Julie says:

    Men also use jokes as a form of hierarchy. They try to one up each other to be the dominant male in the pack. The one with the funniest, sickest, rudest, etc. joke is the one who wins. Also your conclusion, “So if the results could indeed show that the men were more likely to be sexist in their everyday lives, then the studies have got something. However, it seems that the study has ignored that,” makes absolutely no sense.

  2. shaunmiller says:

    Oops. I guess what I meant to say was if the results could indeed show that the men were more likely to be sexist when they told the jokes but also originally showing that they were not sexist in their everyday lives, then the studies have got something. However, it seems that the study has ignored that.

  3. thekillerj says:

    Q: Why did the woman cross the road?
    A: Who cares? What’s she doing out of the kitchen?


    Anyway, language is pretty powerful. I don’t see why this is surprising, although I would imagine the actual sexism is short lived. In other words, the jokes create the sexist atmosphere but once conversation shifts for a certain amount of time a normal atmosphere resumes. Just my speculation.

    • shaunmiller says:

      That’s a good point. The study never really pointed out the long term effects of sexism. Your speculation agrees with me. I think people become sexist just through a constant upbringing and they are “taught” that it’s ok. Jokes, however, breaks the ice and brings out the humor. In a way, humor says that it’s not ok and I think that’s why we laugh at it. I mean look at Family Guy or Dave Chappelle.

  4. thekillerj says:

    That’s interesting. You say humor says it’s NOT okay, and that’s why we laugh. I just experienced this today.

    During my MMA class, my instructor made a light hearted, yet racist (if there is such a thing) comment. We all laughed nervously, including one of my training partners who fit the racial target. I think if we had all sat around stone faced and solemn it would have been awkward and probably freaked out the other guy!

  5. Nancy says:

    women do this too- i’ve especially noted this in matriarchal scenarios, like my friend’s southern family which is almost entirely female, or in relief society, or other such situations. though admittedly it’s usually less formulaic jokes and more sort of condescending one-ups- “oh yeah? well MY husband’s so incompetent that he washed all the baby’s clothes in with the dish towels! can you believe it? MEN! hahahahaha!!”. regardless, it fosters a very similar sort of patronizing sexism, though i think men probably win on the crude one-liner side of things.
    it all sort of falls into the whole nurture/nature issue, though- are we cultured into stereotyping the opposite sex? or do biological differences promote gender bonding through denigration of the other sex?

    • shaunmiller says:

      That’s a good point Nancy. As far as I know through anthropology, males bond by talking about sexism or sexual conquests. I don’t know how it works with females.

      Speaking of sexist language, I wonder what Wittgenstein would say. Hmm. . .

  6. thekillerj says:

    Nancy, I think we’re cultured in to denigrating the opposite sex. Misogyny is rampant, as is misandry. In fact, misandric comments are largely accepted while most misogynistic comments are frowned upon and scorned. Nevertheless, the origin is definitely the media.

  7. Nancy says:

    i agree that we’re cultured into it (at least for the most part- liberal though i am, and much as it bugs me, there are distinct differences in male/female brain anatomy and chemistry that lead me to wonder if there is an evolutionary function to gender cohesion being played out here), but i wouldn’t blame the media. rather, i would suspect that it stems from a time (ie, really everything before the past 50 yrs) when gender roles were more rigid, and one’s social group was determined and reinforced by group bonding. as we all know, effective bonding can and often does involve a component of “us vs. them”, and humour can play a huge part of that.

  8. Fare says:

    Weird! I just did an evaluation on that very article.

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