Don’t call a girl uptight. Don’t call any girls you know uptight because they will overthink it, analyze it, and maybe even eventually write an article about it.
One of my friends told me I was uptight the other day. I was working on my first assignment of the year, a one-page paper on what makes me laugh. To my surprise, the assignment was extremely difficult. Reflecting on your own sense of humour is extensive and difficult to summarize in one page.
I thought asking my friend what he thought was funny would strike up an interesting conversation, perhaps induce a giggle or two — but I was sadly mistaken.
As my friend started to tell me all the jokes he thinks are funny, I was beginning to notice a pattern: nearly every second joke he told was either racist or sexist.
“What’s one N-word you never want to call a black person? Neighbour.”
“What do you tell a woman with two black eyes? Nothing you haven’t already told her.”
I listened to him go on and on, offensive joke after offensive joke. Yet what really struck a chord with me was the fact that I wasn’t even surprised. At the age of 20, I’ve become so used to racist and sexist jokes. I can’t even count the amount of times some of my peers have asked me to make them a sandwich or to “get back in the kitchen.”
So I simply sat there, expressionless. I’ve never thought these jokes were funny but I’ve also never said anything — which could very well make me as disrespectful as the joke-tellers themselves.
I left the conversation confused, hurt and with no real direction on where my assignment was headed. I called my friend because I needed closure. I asked him why he thinks racist and sexist jokes are funny, and his response was simple:
“I don’t know, it’s just so stereotypically obvious that it’s hilarious.”
And that’s what I will never understand. I will never understand the purpose or comedic value of sexist and racist jokes. I will never understand how making someone feel bad for something they cannot control causes laughter. I will never understand why it’s funny to stereotype our friends, families, neighbours, teachers and classmates. I will never understand why we’re all OK with people categorizing and segregating simply based on appearance.
After telling my friend just that, he called me uptight.
I’m uptight because I refuse to recycle these ignorant and cruel typecasts. I’m uptight because I don’t want my children to grow up in a world where injustices are humorous. Well if that’s what being uptight is all about, then yes, I’m uptight. I’m uptight and I’m absolutely fine with that.
I know that most people who make sexist and racist jokes don’t believe they’re racist or sexist. In fact, most take offence when you call them such. But, to me, it’s plainly obvious. If you make these sorts of jokes, you are promoting and spreading racist and sexist ideas. Teasing someone based on his or her gender, ethnicity, social class or religious views, is not only disrespectful, it’s the humour of someone frozen in a time society looks back on and regrets.
And no, just because you ”have a black girlfriend,” that does not make your offensive joke any less offensive.