The impact of sexist humor

Humor is not always funny, at least not to everyone. It’s much easier to find jokes that are meant to put some group down than it is to find jokes that are funny without making some group the “butt.”

Thomas E. Ford, a psychology researcher from Western Carolina University, recently did a research project on how sexist humor that puts down women impacts the men that are exposed to it. Jokes and skits that put women down turned out to have a measurable negative impact. The men listened to or watched sexist jokes, and then were asked to help decide on how to allocate funding cuts for a group of different organizations. Womens’ organizations had disproportionate funds cut by the men that had experienced the sexist humor as opposed to the control groups.

Simply reading sexist statements didn’t have the same effect – the “humor” was an integral component that encouraged the men to express their disdain for women.

So, the next time you hear a nasty joke that puts women down (or gays or Polish people or whatever other group is being insulted), you can say, “Did you know that put-down humor has real effects on how people act?” and direct them to our buddy Thomas E. Ford.


6 responses to “The impact of sexist humor

  1. In that case one wonders how much sexism against men is spawned by males being the butts of countless TV commercial “jokes” portraying them as blundering, selfish oafs.

  2. What about the men? It’s certainly conceivable that TV commercials can function like jokes. I don’t know of any research on how men are affected or who would be in a position to discriminate against them, but I agree that “humorously” portraying men as blundering and selfish is insulting to all men!

  3. Ravn and lol, if y’all can find a study or even a piece of anecdotal hearsay indicating that any man has ever been turned down for a promotion, a job, or a scholarship because his sex is generally perceived as inferior, then bring it on.

  4. Amy,

    Not having a cultural impact doesn’t make it right.

  5. LOL! If you don’t like the ads, why don’t you complain to the MEN that make them!

  6. Jason, you’re right — it makes it irrelevant. Yep. Men get made fun of on TV and I don’t care. Because the laughs are not really at the expense of men. Get it — it’s funny because men actually run the world! Portraying most men as bozos who would be lost without their sensible wives is the opposite of real-world conventional beliefs on one hand, and on the other hand it backs up a favorite excuse offered to women when men knowingly behave like oafs.

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