One thing I’ve noticed, being a straight, white, cisgendered, heteronormative, able-bodied male, is that people feel comfortable enough around me to crack jokes at the expense of entire groups of individuals. Gays, Jews, people of colour, women, etc. all typically suffer through sometimes awful, and even sometimes clever jokes at their expense, usually behind the safety of closed doors.

For the most part, these are, in fact, jokes. *Usually* these people are in favour of equal rights, equal opportunity, anti-bullying, etc. and don’t intend to cause harm with their words, and are often in full belief that no damage is done in telling them.

So if you’re one of these people, I am here to tell you that you’re wrong, and you’re stupid. 

What you might have failed to notice is that we live in a culture where homophobia, sexism, racism, and other bad things are still kind of rampant. We live in a shit culture. Bullying continues to exist; people are continually being denied rights; there is an abundance of prejudice, bigotry, and all those things that you claim not to participate in. And maybe you don’t.

But when you make an offensive joke, it perpetuates that culture. It desensitizes the listener, and the teller as well, to the plight that is suffered by those who are affected by those lists of words I keep using but really don’t feel like typing out again.

Offensive jokes normalize oppression. What you may not realize is that when you’re telling that joke, whether you intend it or not, it makes the assumption that that kind of behaviour is the norm. People will hear that joke, and then when they witness or even commit negative actions like harassment or intolerance, they may not even recognize it as such but just think that it’s “funny”, and that anyone that disagrees is just simply suffering from “butt hurt-ism”. Meanwhile the person who actually feels the full force of the brutality is left with the shit end of the stick while you’re trying to justify why what you do is actually okay.

The other thing is the listener. While you might be a hell of a nice person, those laughing may be laughing for the “it’s funny cuz it’s true!” reasons, and you’re making this person feel as though their intolerant thoughts are acceptable.

An easy way to tell: ask what the person at the brunt of the joke would think, and then ask what the person committing an atrocity against that person would think. For example, how would a rape victim feel about your rape joke? How would a rapist? If you feel as though a rapist might relate to you, then maybe you’ve got a problem with your sense of humour.

Advertisements