Question- How did the medical community come up with the term “PMS”?
Answer- “Mad Cow Disease” was already taken.
Hahahahaha! Funny? Not really.
Is the above general, innocuous ribbing, sure to elicit no feelings of injury to dignity? Or is it the vicious pleasure of seeing someone being slighted? It is most likely the latter. And no, this is not an overreaction.
The joke in question has nothing of value to appreciate. The question is asked only for the crass, offensive answer to be made. This answer seeks to disparage a whole gender by making a gross generalization about their intellect, and aiming to belittle by the juvenile trick of calling them names(cow). There is no way in which the answer even remotely answers the question, which if the writer had managed to do would have made a fine thing for our amusement.
Why is it that jokes always tend to depreciate large groups of people, who are almost always from communities and groups that have historically been oppressed and subjugated, in this case, women? Why does pleasure always attend the vilification of these tyrannized women? If, as alleged, it is all in fun, why are long-standing power hierarchies always tapped in these jokes? Why are the browbeaten always to be silent and take the joke, as if the joke is an unwanted but enforced injection they must take?
What if they decide to raise their voice? Protest at the unfairness of it? All that laughter at their expense. All those jokes, perpetuating certain ideas about women- certain stereotypes whose non-existence would make life much easier for women. This endless cycle of allegations that they dare not interrupt, but which circles their necks to become a tight noose. Because when you object, you are immediately proclaimed ‘no fun’ or a ‘party pooper’. “Can’t you take a joke?” you shall be asked. While it shall be very hard to do it, reply with a firm “No!”. There is no reason to accept the status quo, unless we care very much about our reputation- if we don’t want to lose face in public. But aren’t we losing face anyway, our reputation shredded to tatters and the cycle continuing relentlessly, as we laugh uncomfortably at it?
Sigmund Freud believed that the innermost repressed thoughts of a human being are rendered socially acceptable and presented to the world disguised as jokes. So, while the world tries to regurgitate its refuse in the form of sexist jokes, we must put on the hats of a party pooper and successfully ruin an evening’s fun to right the wrongs.
By Halak Pandya.
Halak is an undergraduate student pursuing literature. She aspires to be a writer. Halak also holds a Master Diploma in Bharatnatyam and a Black belt in Taekwondo. She describes herself as a luftmensch.