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.