Susan Brownmiller wrote a memoir of the women’s movement that was published in 1999.
At the beginning of the prologue…
Imagine a world – or summon it back into memory – in which the Help Wanted columns were divided into Male for the jobs with a future, and Female for the dead-end positions; …; when psychiatrists routinely located the cause of an unsatisfactory sex life in the frigid, castrating, ballbreaking female partner, when abortion was an illegal, back-alley procedure, when rape was the woman’s fault, when no one dared talk about the battery that went on behind closed doors, or could file a complaint about sexual harassment. And remember the hostile humor that reinforced the times: the endless supply of mother-in-law jokes, the farmer’s daughter, the little old lady in tennis shoes, the bored receptionist filing her nails, the dumb blond stenographer perched on her boss’s lap, the lecherous tycoon chasing his buxom secretary around the desk.
1999; long before Mad Men.
But my point is – sexist jokes are not not-sexist because they’re jokes. On the contrary. There’s always been hostile sexist humor. Jokes can be sexist. Jokes about distracting, emotional women addressed by an important man to a group of women colleagues are, indeed, sexist. Hostile humor is hostile humor.