Women’s day and people kept sending me wishes and greetings over WhatsApp. The institute I work in had organised sessions on REAL problems affecting women, in a genuine attempt to make the staff not just listen to, but take action where inequality exists.
And then came this fellow, JA, who thought he was being funny (his comments are on the left, my responses, in the darker shade of orange, are on the right):
I’ve had people tell me: “It was just a joke! Why do you care?”
The response is simple: “Sexual violence exists on a pyramid. Your joke contributes to a culture of violence.” (taken from the same source as the image below):
Yes, so JA in the earlier conversation actually wanted me, a FIRM FEMINIST, to laugh at that piece of garbage. Of course, I turned the attention and responded in a way to make the joke fall flat. But apparently, this was the kind of fellow who not only shared sick, sexist jokes, but derived pleasure from having his victims try and explain their displeasure to him!
Obviously, I wasn’t falling for it. But he seemed persistent:
I had read it carefully, and I did understand what it meant. And I know about women who have dedicated their whole lives in various movements to have women be accepted for who they are, and not for their objectification….and have worked hard to make Women’s Day a day of awareness about equal rights. I wasn’t going to let this guy misuse the day for his sick joke:
If this guy meant to say he didn’t understand why I didn’t like the joke, I could have reminded him that his two sisters are young women, and how would he like some guy sending them sick jokes. Would he have so much trouble understanding my anger, then? But JA took his sexist ‘joke’ and wanted to prove that I was being sexist! Seriously, he really did have all the time in the world to think that up!
I like the Addam’s Family’s Wednesday, and I wasn’t going to let him believe he deserved her..she is child! I had to put an end to this nonsense. Thus, my clear response – ‘Sadly, a sexist person will always understand anything in a sexist manner.’
I had cornered him. I told him to his face what he really is. He couldn’t take the truth that he was trying to hide. And a coward’s automatic reaction is to lash out and try to appear powerful to threaten the enemy, without having any logic, reasoning, facts or evidence to his statements. So, according to him, I’m going to have ‘obstacles’ because he was acting ignorant! But did he dare point it out to me clearly? Thus, the indirect hints by using the word ‘someone’ and the vague ‘will face obstacles’…
Yeah, you don’t mess with a REAL feminist! And real feminists don’t leave an argument without making their point CLEAR.
Oooooh, but what did I know… I had hurt the Male Ego! Along came a torrent of angry accusations:
Well, if you were intelligent, JA, you would know that SEXIST JOKES AREN’T FUNNY! THEY CAN HURT people you never know! They can CAUSE anther woman to suffer because at home, at work, at school because they are no longer taken seriously for who they are and their identities are constantly being associated with a man, or their purpose being associated with a man’s sexual wants!
So, apparently, if I do not care for your sexist jokes, I don’t deserve respect?
Sigh…at least he managed to spell my name correctly! 😉
Since JA spent so much time trying to get me to understand his ‘joke’, and apparently, I ‘hadn’t understood it’, I thought I’d share it around with JA’s own friends, both women and men, to see what they thought of it. Their responses were pure gold! Here is what AC had to say:
And another by VA:
Another guy, MM, had an interesting comparison to make:
Of course, MM’s laughter was because he understood that this ‘joke’ sent to me would not go down well for JA.
But other responses kept pouring in. PS summed it up perfectly:
And so, dear men, if you cannot ‘understand’ a joke, don’t share it. If you can understand it, but are too stupid to explain it to another person, then you haven’t really understood it. But if you make a dirty joke, don’t be surprised when you end up having to deal with a feminist…one who will win the argument because, hell, you were wrong in objectifying women anyway!
As AC put it:
For more information on why language in jokes matter, read this article by Feminism in India: Language Matters
Rachael Alphonso, Green Madcaps
(Rachael is a fiery feminist with a mouth that is often compared to that of an AK-47 by the other Madcaps. She doesn’t let insults lie easily , but peppers them and sends it right back to the attacker. The above incident is a true account of her experience.)
P.S. I’m going to share this conversation with his older sisters. But since I know them to be feminists themselves, I do not want to embarass them by using JA’s real name in the open.