I’m pretty sick and tired of people defending their casual racism, sexism, and bigotry. There’s something seriously screwed up with this society. How it’s so commonplace to throw around sexist and racist remarks. It’s so socially acceptable, nobody bats an eye, or takes a stand and says “that’s not really funny” because they hate to be thought of as uptight. Well, I don’t think it’s uptight to be speak up and protect others. It’s not uptight to speak up when something isn’t funny and is fucking offensive to large sections of society.
If we don’t stand up and say something, you end up with the shit show that is happening in the United States and Europe presently. “Most of the time prejudiced people conceal their true beliefs and attitudes because they fear others’ criticism. They express prejudice only when the norms in a given context clearly communicate approval to do so. They need something in the immediate environment to signal that it is safe to freely express their prejudice,” social psychologist Thomas E. Ford argues.
I grew up in that kind of household. My father, whom I love and respect dearly, told plenty of racist and sexist jokes while I was growing up. His father probably did the same. My grandmother still does. They never saw the problem with it, it’s just a joke. I understand, it’s a generational thing. But it can stop with us. Some people make a serious effort to wipe away years of social conditioning that made their discriminatory views so commonplace.
We don’t have to keep perpetuating things past generations did. We can and should evolve as a society. Time marches on and we should, too. It’s totally okay if the same things your dad or mom thought were socially acceptable and funny 20 or 30 years ago now make you kind of sick. Because now, you may have a gay friend, or you might have a best friend who is African or Asian, or your wife is pretty bad ass with a PhD and deserves better than to be talked down to like she’s inferior. And then the joke kind of falls flat … because you know those people are awesome, and their feelings would be really hurt if they heard stuff like that, and even worse if they heard you laughing at it.
Now some of you might be thinking, “Wait, what about some black comedians who joke about blacks? or joke about whites? when is a joke just a joke?” There are whole studies about this, and comedians like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle are masters at the art of subversive disparagement humor, the type of humor that challenges status quo. In fact, the same researchers who penned the article linked above made an important point. If we don’t speak up and break the cycle of casual discrimination, studies have shown that society risks even further degradation. “For prejudiced people, the belief that ‘a disparaging joke is just a joke’ trivializes the mistreatment of historically oppressed social groups – including women, gay people, racial minorities and religious minorities – which further contributes to their prejudiced attitude,” wrote Ford.
Just because it’s a joke, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hold a grain of your true feelings. If you’re able to utter the joke or off-hand remark like that, so breezily, then that ugly thought is somewhere hidden there in your soul. and yes, it means on some level you do have some racist, sexist, or bigoted views. I love teasing people a lot, I tease my friends all day long, my sarcasm meter is on point. But my issue with joking about things like race, gender, and sexuality specifically is they are things people are born with. Why would I joke or make light of something that someone can’t possibly change about themselves? It’s like making fun of people with a disability. Most people don’t do that, right?? You’d have to be a REAL shithead to do that, because those people don’t have a choice. Same with the color of your skin, your gender, and your sexuality.