Michael Nugent has a post about a joke posted on Facebook and illustrated with a sexist photo of a woman.
It’s an old joke that I first heard decades ago, although then it was about a drunk husband trying to avoid waking his wife. So why were the genders in this old joke reversed?
It might have been to enable the poster to illustrate the joke with a random photo, taken from an up-skirt angle, of an unconscious woman lying face down on the floor wearing a very short skirt.
The joke with the photo is a lot more popular than the joke without the photo. It also attracted a good many skeevy comments, which Nugent includes. A very few of them:
- I would of kicked the crap out of her
- I would of hit it!
- She made it home with her panties on
- She’s a hoe. I’d dump her!!! Plain and simple
- I’d love to wake up with her on my living room floor…
- Looks like its one of them” hunny I’m help yourself poses haaahaaa
- An found a used codom in side of her
Yet the men posting the comments seem to be not specially chosen from a warehouse labeled Sexist Men Supply.
I assume that most of these men do not consider themselves to be sexist. I assume that they would not talk in this way to their own children about this photograph. I assume that they would dislike the comments of others if the photograph was of their mother, partner, wife or daughter.
So why do they feel comfortable publishing these comments on a forum which their own mothers, partners, wives and daughters might read, and which other women are certainly reading?
Why indeed? This is something I wonder a lot. Why are so many people – including some women – so cheerful about this kind of thing? Why doesn’t it bother them? Why are they so happy to talk about women in ways that are degrading and boiling with contempt and disgust?
Because most men do not face the same kind of sexual abuse as most women do, most men have no idea how harmful comments like this can be, and how much more harmful is the cumulative impact of constantly reading comments like this on multiple websites.
And, Nugent goes on to say, it is necessary to resist, to speak out, to make it stop.
The more of us that publicly challenge these sexist comments, the more likely they are to subside. We may not in the short term influence hardcore sexists, but we can immediately help people who do not even think about the sexism of their comments to reconsider what they are saying and its impact on others.
Michelle and Erik and Kenneth and Gaylene and Dan’s comments above are great examples of how to do this. We don’t have to get into an angry exchange. We can just point out that the comment is harmful, and explain why. And the more frequently that more of us do this, the more comfortable other people will feel doing so also.
I do it very frequently indeed, to the point of boredom or nausea for everyone who reads me, but we have to do something.