In my previous post, I made an argument for the distinction between real bigotry from non-egalitarians and satirical bigotry from (at the very least self-professed) egalitarians. I think that distinction still stands and is an important one to make. At the end of my blog, I highlighted the responsibility of the defenders of egalitarianism to provide an argument (and preferably evidence) for why social taboo humor specifically is harmful rather than just labeling it as “misogyny” without qualification.
After several hours of discussion, a feminist provided evidence for why social taboo humor is harmful. At the very least, this evidence should be acknowledged and addressed by people who wish to invoke social taboo humor. The papers are referenced below.
Romero-Sánchez et al. (2010) Exposure to sexist humor and rape proclivity: the moderator effect of aversiveness ratings
The aim of this study is to explore the effect of exposure to sexist humor about women on men’s self-reported rape proclivity. Earlier studies have shown that exposure to this type of humor increases rape proclivity and that funniness responses to jokes are a key element to consider. However, the role of aversiveness responses has not been studied. In a between-group design, 109 male university students are randomly exposed to sexist or nonsexist jokes. Participants are asked to rate the jokes according to their degree of funniness and aversiveness. Participants’ levels of hostile and benevolent sexism were also measured. Results about the relationship between sexist attitudes and sexist humor and the relationship between sexist attitudes and rape proclivity are consistent with those of earlier studies. However, exposure to sexist humor affects rape proclivity only when aversiveness shown to this type of humor is low. The results are discussed in the light of the prejudiced norm theory.
Ford et al. (2008) More than “just a joke”: the prejudice-releasing function of sexist humor
The results of two experiments supported the hypothesis that, for sexist men, exposure to sexist humor can promote the behavioral release of prejudice against women. Experiment 1 demonstrated that hostile sexism predicted the amount of money participants were willing to donate to a women’s organization after reading sexist jokes but not after reading nonhumorous sexist statements or neutral jokes. Experiment 2 showed that hostile sexism predicted the amount of money participants cut from the budget of a women’s organization relative to four other student organizations upon exposure to sexist comedy skits but not neutral comedy skits. A perceived local norm of approval of funding cuts for the women’s organization mediated the relationship between hostile sexism and discrimination against the women’s organization.
A PR Problem
I am very happy to present the evidence above. I think it is unequivocally important and relevant in the discussion of the harmful effects of social taboo humor.
However, I think it is relevant that, when I posted my original blog, I received a very hostile and non-evidential response. Feminists came on to my blog and insulted me for literally hours saying that I was “mansplaining” (a sexist term, in the context it was being used), calling me a bigot, and expressing outrage at me for holding horrible positions that I NEVER endorsed (straw man fallacy). Not to mention that there was just generally a lot of unwarranted rudeness in response to sincere comments.
I know that not all feminists behave like this. And I want to thank the user athyco for taking the time to find and present these studies. But to the type of feminists who behave like this: this is not helpful behavior. It is horrible for your image and horrible for the cause of egalitarianism.
Providing evidence and responding to sincere inquiries with sincerity is helpful.