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Author Topic: Anatomy of a sexist joke  (Read 362 times)

hubag bohol

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Anatomy of a sexist joke
« on: June 01, 2013, 07:32:24 AM »
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By Elizabeth Angsioco | Posted on Jun. 01, 2013 at 12:01am


Heads should be cooler by now. Passionate and partisan exchanges on the Vice Ganda “joke” issue have died down. VG has apologized and Jessica Soho has issued her statement. Everyone ought to have sobered. Perhaps, it is time to reflect on the issue. The ISSUE because as far as I’m concerned, the personalities involved are incidental.

At the height of the controversy, some people called for context. Some argued that it was not really a “rape joke” but one on weight. According to them, rape was just mentioned in passing and in connection with being heavy or overweight.

But even if so, such context does not make the joke any less crass. On the contrary, I contend that it made it doubly sexist.
...than to speak out and remove all doubt." - Abraham Lincoln


hubag bohol

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Re: Anatomy of a sexist joke
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2013, 07:32:54 AM »
Not a few implied that jokes about being fat are generally acceptable. These make them laugh. They are funny. I agree, many accept these as “normal” because it happens all the time, even among friends.

However, has anyone noticed that such jokes are mostly about us, women? Our bodies are made the butt of these jokes. Some, outright, ridiculing our bodies, us. How many times have we heard women’s breasts jokingly compared to papayas, prunes, etc.?

Also, have people observed that most of these jokes have sexual undertones? They make fun of our “desirability” or “undesirability”. Sexy women are the object of sexual fantasies while those who are not are directly or indirectly ridiculed—using humor.

In Jessica’s case, the joke was about her weight.
...than to speak out and remove all doubt." - Abraham Lincoln

hubag bohol

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Re: Anatomy of a sexist joke
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2013, 07:33:21 AM »
Fat is a feminist issue. Why? Because society expects women to be sexy, to have the body of a Barbie doll, or a movie star. This is the “desirable” woman. Thus, those of us who are very different are considered an aberration, funny, worth laughing at.

So, Jessica’s being a “bold star” was “funny” because she does not have the requisite sexy body. She was even compared to a roasted pig because of her weight. The line about rape was “funny” because going by the stereotype, hers is not a desirable, “rape-able” body. It is ridiculous to think that a woman her size will be the object of sexual desire. Thus, it was “funny.”

When people laugh at such jokes, they actually laugh at us, women. Such jokes not only reinforce stereotypes of the “desirable” woman but also “punishes” those who do not fit the mold. These jokes try to put women in their “right” place.
...than to speak out and remove all doubt." - Abraham Lincoln

hubag bohol

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Re: Anatomy of a sexist joke
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2013, 07:34:13 AM »
In contrast, have you heard many sexually-loaded jokes about men and their bodies?

This is one time when “acceptability” cannot, and should not be equated with being correct. To be more precise, they cannot be considered as politically correct.

If people are looking for context, the bigger context of the VG and similar jokes is sexism.

Sexism is defined as a mindset that considers one sex as superior to the other and results in discrimination against, or abuse of the “weaker” sex.

The sexism we encounter day in and day out is patriarchy—an ideology that treats men as superior and women as the weaker sex. This is machismo.

The Vice Ganda-Jessica Soho incident is a manifestation of how well and alive sexism is in our culture. If someone like Jessica, a well-known, well-respected personality who holds a very responsible position in one of the leading television networks in the country can be subjected to such ridicule, imagine the kinds of sexist “jokes” and remarks faced by ordinary women.

I disagree with Jessica’s statement that this is not about her but the women who are victimized by rape and abused twice over because of such sexist jokes. This is about her all right, AND all other women who, as a class, are regarded as inferior to men by virtue of sex.

People laughing at these jokes is proof that sexism is a mindset. It is very deeply rooted in our consciousness that we are not offended. Rather, we find such ridicule of women as funny. We believe these are acceptable. And this is a big problem.
...than to speak out and remove all doubt." - Abraham Lincoln

hubag bohol

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Re: Anatomy of a sexist joke
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2013, 07:34:32 AM »
One of the topics I handle in gender sensitivity seminars is “Indicators of Sexism”. This discusses the various manifestations of sexism and how it can be detected by women. We teach women to analyze and determine sexist actions and words in ordinary situations they face.

Surely, people will agree that abuses such as rape and physical violence are wrong. However, many other forms of sexism are not as obvious. They are so subtle that often, are difficult to detect. Included here are sexist jokes.

Interestingly, “sexual innuendo” and “denigration through humor” are two of the indicators of sexism I teach women about. A perfect example is the Vice Ganda spiel on Jessica Soho.

No, I do not wish to bash Vice Ganda but the spiel he delivered was sexist. So was the episode “Reyp-reypan” in the show Bubble Gang in Jessica’s network. So are many other shows that continue to promote stereotypes of women. Sexism in our culture is so well-ingrained. Sexism in media is, too. The Vice Ganda incident is just one of many.

I believe that we should learn from this issue. The media should have the sensitivities needed to come up with politically correct programs. Celebrities should be mindful of the implications of what they say. And, the public, particularly women should demand gender-fair programming and shows from media.

We should not laugh at sexist jokes. They are not funny.
...than to speak out and remove all doubt." - Abraham Lincoln


 

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