5 Ways to Deal with a Sexist Joke

Laura Bates is a feminist writer, published in Time, xoJane.com, The Guardian, The Independent, and regularly asked for comment by VICE, The Atlantic, and others. She is the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project—a crowd-sourced collection of stories from women around the world about their experiences with gender inequality. She was named one of Huffington Post’s Most Inspirational Women of 2012 and shortlisted for the 2013 Shorty Award in activism. Girl Up is her second book.

sexist jokeSexism. It plagues our every day. Especially in the form of a sexist joke that people can laugh off while pretending there’s no harm done. Laura Bates, author of Girl Up gives advice on how to deal.

 

Unfortunately, the narrow-minded prejudice of sexism often goes hand-in-hand with other types of narrow-minded prejudice, including racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, ageism, classism, and stigma against groups like sex workers, larger people, or people with mental health problems. If we’re going to fight sexism, we have to be prepared to stand up against other inequalities as well. This might mean educating yourself about issues your friends and peers face in combination with sexism that you might not deal with yourself. And finally, for dealing with those hilarious cracks about women and the kitchen:

Girl Up: Kick Ass, Claim Your Woman Card, and Crush Everyday Sexism

Girl Up: Kick Ass, Claim Your Woman Card, and Crush Everyday Sexism

by Laura Bates

  • Get Girl Up: Kick Ass, Claim Your Woman Card, and Crush Everyday Sexism
  • Get Girl Up: Kick Ass, Claim Your Woman Card, and Crush Everyday Sexism
  • Get Girl Up: Kick Ass, Claim Your Woman Card, and Crush Everyday Sexism

Five Ways to Deal with a Sexist Joke

In a very pleasant tone, with a slightly mystified smile, as if you just didn’t quite catch the punchline, ask the person to explain the joke. Then watch as they make themselves sound stupider and stupider and get more and more flustered trying to explain the sexist joke. At no point step in and release the tension. Keep asking them to be more specific.

Place an entire large, smushy food item (a banana or a doughnut would work splendidly here) in your mouth, chew a couple of times, and then very deliberately smile widely at them.

Tell them “The 1950s called . . . they want their punchline back.”

Say, “Haha, I see, it’s funny because . . .” and then add the sexist premise. Like “Haha, I see, it’s funny because women can’t drive.” Then give them your best side eye.

Say “OMG, that’s hilarious, would it still be so funny if someone was saying it about your mom/sister/girlfriend?”

Overall, remember “it’s my x and I’ll y if I want to” is an excellent rule of thumb.
It’s my face and I’ll smile if I want to.
It’s my body and I’ll shave if I want to.
It’s my vagina and I’ll masturbate if I want to.
It’s my broomstick and I’ll pretend to be Hermione Granger if I want to.

Stop judging me.

But it is pretty tough for guys with all these confusing decisions to make. After all, they are overwhelmed with options and it can be difficult to work out what is and isn’t sexist, right? Just try putting yourself in their shoes and…

We’ll forego the “walk a mile in their shoes” part. You might also see deal with men telling a sexist joke a lot in your dating life. Women have been dealing with this issue…well…forever. So we suggest you also read these dating tips from TV’s Mary and Rhoda.

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