By Hannah Wheelwright
Today in one of my political science classes at BYU, we were discussing how people tend to choose marriage partners who share their political party affiliation (Democrats tend to marry Democrats, Republicans tend to marry Republicans, etc). The professor asked, “In a marriage, who is more likely to change their party affiliation?” to which three guys in my class blurted out in unison “The wife!”
Before you roll your eyes and tell me not to get my feminist panties in a twist, let me make myself clear- I laughed. I knew they were joking, and one of them specifically stopped me after class to make sure I knew he was joking. But I share this story because I am interested in hearing opinions on sexist jokes from a young Mormon feminist perspective.
My personal opinion is that while I would prefer that people not tell jokes that could be misconstrued to support or perpetuate sexism, I don’t see how we can practically draw lines and say definitively which topics are off-limits and how far is too far. So things like the Tosh rape controversy, while I sympathize for the young woman who tried to speak out about using rape for comedy, don’t bother me. I hear sexist jokes all the time from Mormons- far less extreme, but still jokes about demeaning women, and I don’t see how I can define boundaries that I can then expect everyone to maintain. I can advocate for these issues to be taken seriously and I can call people out when I think they are advancing a destructive perspective, but as far as comedy goes- I can’t help but quote Michael Scott from The Office: “There’s no such thing as an inappropriate joke- that’s why it’s called a joke.”
Share your thoughts in the comments section!