Down with Casual Sexism!

casual sexism


The following was submitted by SMIW reader Sheena Best and originally appeared on her Facebook timeline.

I cannot and WILL NOT tolerate sexism on my timeline.

sexist joke

If you make jokes like this which you refer to as ‘harmless’, you are nothing but privileged and sexist.

This guy’s response when I pulled him up for this post was:

“They are not meant to be sexist in anyway apart from a light hearted angle to it. Same you can notice by the number of likes I get on such posts from women. No disrespect to any gender.”


“Not everything on the internet needs to be taken seriously. There are bigger issues to get pissed about”


This is deeply disrespectful to my gender.

Women have to deal with enough bullshit on a regular basis, we have to deal with enough body policing, and sexual abuse, and pay inequality, and about a 1000 other things, that we don’t need your ‘harmless’ sexist jokes.

I read this article which says:

“When men bond over jokes at the expense of women, they breathe life into a host of violent crimes. For the boys and men out there who are uncomfortable with outing themselves as decent human beings by calling out basic bigotry, I’m sorry that male culture punishes you for empathy, and mistakes your sense of justice for weakness. If your bromance can’t transcend misogyny, it’s time to call it quits.”

It’s not just boys, either. There were, at last count, 3 women out of 30 likers / haha-ers. I see this all the time. Women who will make light of a matter because they can’t be bothered dealing with something or feel the pressure to just be one of the boys. (Or women who have been raised to internalise sexism – there’s plenty of those too)

I am tired of sexism for attention.

Every time you make or laugh at jokes like this, you are feeding a culture of sexism. You are giving permission to an audience to call and treat women as inferior. Violence against women is a direct result of sexism. They are not light-hearted because they have real world repercussions even if they are meant in jest.

There are few issues in the world bigger than violence against women.

If you make or laugh at jokes like this, ask yourself why. When did you learn to accept this as OK/truth/funny? Who taught you to be sexist?

Please check your privilege.


About the Author:

Sheena Dabholkar is the creative director and editor at Lover. She thinks feminism is for everybody.

  • This is so true and frequent. If you don’t laugh at such jokes, you are labelled an intellectual feminist snob without a sense of humor who takes herself too seriously. A lady colleague of mine recently got married and our boss remarked at a staff meeting that another man joins the unhappy population. Of course everyone laughed, even ladies. IT IS NOT FUNNY!!
    I cannot really enjoy item songs with women objectification lyrics, irrespective of their foot-tapping rhythm and music. It is offensive. If I justify my dislike for such songs, I am asked to lighten up and simply enjoy good music.

    • Ujwala, I had a similar experience during a familiarization trip to Gujarat recently with some travel trade colleagues. One man asked the other if he was married. Pat came the reply “Unfortunately, yes.” Everyone laughed. I didn’t understand what was funny about that. Looks like our sense of humour does go beyong belittling someone all the time. And most of the the time women are targetted. In this case, the lady in question wasn’t even there. In this case the man was actually suggesteing married is the reason for his misfortune. If he was so unhappy, he shouldn’t stay married. I wanted to tell him that, but then I kept my thoughts to myself trying to keep my sanity.

  • Very well written Sheena. I totally agree sexism is internalised to such an expetnt that many women are addicted to the TV shows and soaps that suggest that women are nothing but arm candy and have a sole aim of getting a man’s attention. My own mother watches about 6 soaps on repeat mode and it is affecting my life. I am thinking of moving out. :(

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