Friday, October 22, 2010

That's What She Said. (and other offensive[?] things)


It's been a while since I've done a real writing post on here. Sorry about that. Some people (actually just one specific person but it sounds a lot better if I say some people) have requested more frequent updates.

When I first started this blog I planned to update all the time, but since I don't have a lot of followers yet I got worried that the few of you who do read this don't read it very frequently. I imagined somebody coming to the site, seeing that there had been 5 or 6 posts since the last time they checked and thinking "screw this, I don't have time to read all this." and then leaving and never coming back. So I slowed it down a little but it seems like it was a little too slow so I'm going to try to update 2 or 3 times a week. Since I go to school full time and have a couple part time jobs, I can't really stick to a schedule and say I'll post every week on specific days but I'll try to post twice during the week and if I don't, maybe I'll post on the weekend to make up for it sometimes. So hopefully that satisfies everybody!

Now, to get to the real topic of this post.

Earlier this week I was having a conversation with two people I am very close to. We were talking about racist/sexist/stereotyping jokes and a couple of opinions came up. One person made a joke about somebody having mental health problems, saying, "that sounds crazy" or something kind of punny like that. When I said it was a horrible thing to say, he said that he (having somebody in his family with a history of mental health issues) felt he was more qualified to make the joke than somebody without the personal experience to go along with it.

My other friend is Metis and he said when he makes jokes about First Nations people, it's alright because he is essentially making fun of himself and his family. He then said that he wouldn't feel comfortable making a joke about having an abortion or being Jewish or something like that because he doesn't have the first-hand experience to make it acceptable, so he would just be making fun of another person.

I said that I think when people make fun of themselves it makes it okay for other people to, and it's hard to draw a line there. I also pointed out that my friend likes to make 'that's what she said' jokes even though he isn't a woman. My other friend said those jokes aren't funny to women, usually, but are funny to men. So if I make a 'that's what she said' joke is that an example of making fun of my own kind, and making it okay for other people to? If somebody uses a derogatory term (like the 'n word' for example) amongst their friends of the same gender/ethnicity/race/sexual orientation/whatever, is it only okay for them to say it and not okay if somebody else says it?

Do these types of jokes promote equality? because if you can laugh at yourself just as much as you laugh at other people, there's really nothing wrong with it, right? We're all equally make-fun-of-able. Or do they promote discrimination and hatred? I think it might depend on the spirit of the joke, the context, and the joke-teller. ...and the sensitivity of the joke-hearer. Clearly I am not the best person to tell those kinds of jokes around because I have a strong reaction.

What do you guys think? Are self-deprecating jokes controversial or hilarious?

Let's talk about it in the comments! I want this to be a discussion, not just an opinion-y blog post. You can leave anonymous comments if you want!

Tell me your opinions.


  1. I'm really unsure about these kinds of jokes. I agree that it depends on the context, and I think that, while the idea that making jokes about the stereotyped groups you are a part of might have some validity in certain situations, it can definitely be misconstrued as seeming to be acceptable for others to make such jokes. And the fact itself that only certain people are 'allowed' to make jokes at the expense of a certain group is pretty messed up in itself. Now, I feel slightly different about, say, people within these groups using historically derogatory terminology in addressing others within their group, because usually this has sprouted from movements to reclaim the hateful word and effectively defuse it, strip it of it's power. Unfortunately, this often leads to the same end: others from outside the group misunderstanding the context and use of the word and furthering its use in a hateful or joking manner.

    Basically, though, I think there are better things to joke about than stereotypes created to segregate people and create 'minorities' where really there are just fellow persons. Racist/sexist/homophobic jokes aren't funny, and there's no moral debate needed to come to that conclusion.

  2. Read an interesting article and thought of this post so I thought I'd share it. Racism in relationship to pop-culture: