How Seemingly Harmless, Sexist Humor Only Makes A Joke Out Of Feminism

Women have a tendency to laugh at things that make them uncomfortable.

It’s a means of avoidance, a way to dance around the subject so they don't have to dive into a debate no one wants to have.

When it comes to feminism, there are those who speak about the cause with pride emblazoned on their sleeves.

There are also those who care deeply about women’s rights, but are afraid to openly defend their beliefs.

That’s okay.

Speaking out in opposition of someone else’s ideas is always a risk, and taking that risk is not for the weak of heart.

Feminists have a unique struggle because — due to the man-hating reputation we have — people put up a particular defense when they hear the scrutinizingly stigmatized phrase, “I am a feminist.”

Admittedly, there have been women throughout history, and who are still around today, who wholeheartedly believe feminism is all about oppressing men so women can rise.

To someone who truly understands the genuine meaning of feminism, however, this just isn’t true.

This broad generalization that groups all feminists in with radical feminists is not only misguided, but it’s also completely unfair.

I don’t want special treatment just because I’m a woman, and I don’t expect men to desire special treatment just because they’re men.

I also don't think their rights are unequal to mine.

Feminism is about leveling the playing field that has been out of balance since, I don’t know, forever.

What I want (as a woman who has carefully studied women’s rights and the feminist and gender equality movements) is a world in which gender is merely an afterthought, not a deciding factor.

I want the institutionalized discrimination of women to be eliminated from the equation.

So when I hear my fellow feminists joking about feminism, I get upset.

Women’s rights is not something to joke about.

Don’t get me wrong; I am never one to pass up an opportunity to laugh at something that’s actually funny.

Feminism is just never one of those things.

Any issue you care deeply about should not be a source of entertainment.

Joking about your passions only makes a joke out of your passions.

Joking about feminism only makes a joke out of feminism.

The more you joke around, the more it seems like you don’t care.

The more people think you don’t care, the more they’ll talk down about the things you value.

The more they talk down about your values, the more you resent them and inevitably question how you got to that point.

The answer?

You allowed it to happen.

Don’t be afraid to talk about gender inequality.

If it’s something you care about and you want to talk about it, then let the floodgates open.

I can list a certain number of my male friends who really, really hate it when I bring up feminism in a social setting.

To avoid conflict, I treat the topic with sarcasm.

I shouldn’t do this.

Treating feminism lightly only makes it okay for my male friends to treat feminism lightly.

And to be honest, I’m perpetually disappointed with these specific friends because they’re so unwilling to check their privilege.

Institutionalized sexism is a tale as old as time, and it’s only going to topple from its tower if we (advocates of equality) shake it at the foundation.

I have to stop joking and laughing about feminism as a means of avoiding conflict, so here we go.

To the men of the world who want me to stop talking:

Not being willing to talk with your female friends about feminism is a form of oppression in and of itself.

By thinking you're avoiding any confrontation by stopping the conversation before it starts, you're only validating the fact women aren't taken seriously when they talk about their basic human rights.

You're 1) asserting male power over your female friend because you're ingrained to know that the more you stand your ground and assert yourself, the more likely the woman is to stand down and be quiet.

Any woman who has the courage to keep on talking despite your complaints is automatically irrational, emotional and in the wrong for not being willing to let the conversation go.

And 2) you're attempting to control a person you call a friend and barring her from expressing her grievances with her circumstances solely because you've never experienced them.

Clearly, since you haven't experienced sexism, it obviously doesn't exist and/or can’t be as bad as women think, right?

You think, "Oh, come on. Just because I don't want to talk about this while we're hanging out, it doesn't mean I don't support women's rights."

Really?

Then how come you won't let the woman — your friend — speak about matters she feels passionately about?

When is the right time to talk about it?

After the men have left the room?

If talking about gender inequality makes you uncomfortable, then you're a product of institutionalized sexism.

If you tell your friend talking about feminism isn't "appropriate" for a social setting, then you're a product of institutionalized sexism.

If you don't agree with what I'm saying, you're a product of institutionalized sexism.

There, I said it.

Check your privilege because I’m not going to stop talking anytime soon.

And it’s not a laughing matter.