… Or, no, it’s really not just a joke.
Disparagement humor is the type of humor designed to make a marginalized group look ridiculous. If the punchline is “Ha, ha, [insert marginalized group here] is [insert stereotype here]!” it’s probably disparagement humor. Jokes about women liking shoes, about black people being ignorant, about disabled people being stupid, or about Asian people liking music, are all examples of disparagement humor.
In the case of sexism, disparagement humor has been shown to release and normalize sexism. When exposed to sexist humor, men are more likely to behave in a sexist way, and men who enjoy sexist humor are more likely to view sexism as acceptable. That’s bad enough, but it doesn’t stop there. Sexist humor increases rape proclivity if the men find such humor funny. In other words, when men who like sexist humor are exposed to it, they’re more likely to say they’d do stuff that amounts to rape, and they’re more likely to sympathize with rapists in hypothetical scenarios.
There’s also a link between enjoyment of sexist humor and physical, emotional, sexual, and relationship aggression in men. Men who like sexist humor are more likely to be violent, aggressive and abusive.
Similar results have been found for racist humor. People exposed to racist humor are more likely to behave in racist ways, and people who enjoy racist humor are more likely to be racist. Racist humor contributes to hostile environments and is harmful to those targeted by it.
Other vulnerable groups, such as GBLTQIA people and disabled people, have not been studied as much, but given the well-characterized effects of disparagement humor on sexism and racism, it would be foolish to expect anything other than analogous effects.
Because of the fact that disparagement humor normalizes prejudice, that it causes an increase in prejudiced behavior and aggression, and that it thus causes real and measurable harm to the marginalized, I will not tolerate disparagement humor on my blog. Joke about other stuff all you like, but don’t make racist, sexist, or otherwise bigoted jokes. They won’t fly here.