Disparagement humor is harmful, it’s not ‘just a joke’

Recently on my Facebook feed I came across a transphobic joke someone had shared. The comment section of the post was filled with some pretty ignorant remarks.

A lot of people were arguing that just because they found the joke funny, it didn’t mean they themselves were transphobic.

They also said that the people who found the joke offensive were just “snowflakes” and overly sensitive.

One argument I really didn’t understand was when someone said people make jokes like this all the time about other things, like races, cultures and traumatic events like the Holocaust and 9/11, so it’s OK.

This just blows my mind. Just because something happens all the time doesn’t make it right.

It’s still bad and it’s still going to have negative effects on a lot of people.

When people tell jokes that fall into the category of disparagement humor, they’re normalizing hateful ideas and stereotypes towards the marginalized groups at the butt of the joke.

This kind of humor makes people more comfortable acting in discriminatory ways.

A study done by Thomas E. Ford, a professor of social psychology, found that after being exposed to sexist jokes, men had greater tolerance for gender harassment in the workplace.

They then also recommended greater funding cuts to a women’s organization at their university.

Other researchers found that these men expressed greater willingness to rape a woman, as opposed to the men who were exposed to nonsexist jokes.

The point I’m trying to get across is that, while it may just be a joke to the person telling it, that’s not what it is.

The person may claim they’re not sexist, racist, transphobic or homophobic, but the message they are sending through those jokes is that they are and it’s OK. to express these prejudices.

If you try and call these people out, they often respond with “but it’s just a joke,” when in reality it’s not just a joke and it has social impacts they’re not considering.

Aside from all of that, telling offensive jokes is just insensitive.

They’re not funny and they’re just kind of mean.

People are being hurt by the jokes because you could be making fun of who they are, their culture, their race or something else that’s incredibly personal to them.

There’s a lack of empathy involved in finding things like this funny or defending disparaging humor because it’s “just a joke.”

Is it just a joke to you because it’s not impacting you? Because what’s being joked about isn’t something that hurts you, so who cares who gets hurt in the process?

This is a display of your own privilege. The message you put out is “because this doesn’t harm me, it’s not harmful at all.”

If you’re someone who likes offensive jokes or thinks it’s not a problem because it’s “just a joke,” I ask that you take a moment out of your day to educate yourself on how harmful your words can be, and maybe think about someone else for once in your life.

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