Just because it’s sexist, doesn’t mean it’s funny

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Laura Shortridge

“Make me a sandwich!”
“Get back in the kitchen!”
“Sure she can do this, but the real question is, can she cook?”

Sound familiar? It should. The above are all variants of one of the oldest and most repeated jokes on the Internet: The Kitchen Joke.

The Kitchen Joke is often directed at women, usually by men. The joke is basically to remind any woman who might be found outside of a kitchen that her one purpose in life is to serve men’s appetites.

Now, I don’t usually like to second guess people when they say they like or dislike something, but I have to say, if you’re a woman who claims to still find this joke funny, then I simply don’t believe you.  

I know, super judgey right? Everyone has an opinion, and yours is that these jokes are just hilarious. Who am I to suggest otherwise?

I don't think you find them funny, because no one finds old jokes that have been repeated a million times funny.

It could be the funniest joke in the world, and you're going to stop laughing at it eventually.

You might still find it funny the second time, or even the tenth time, but I guarantee you that the hundredth, thousandth, millionth time you've heard this joke - it's just not going to be funny to you.

And if there’s one joke that I know you’ve heard a hundred, thousand or million times if you’re a female human who has ever been online, it’s The Kitchen Joke.

It’s old. It’s tired. It’s been told to death. Any humour that might have once existed there is gone. So why is anyone still laughing, especially women?

Here’s my theory: you've found that it's easier to pretend to find these jokes funny. You've found that when you do pretend to laugh at them, you are met with approval and positive reinforcement.  

You’ve found that if you don’t laugh at them, or worse, you roll your eyes at them or object to them, you’re met with negative reinforcement. You’re called uptight, and berated for not having a sense of humour. You’re accused of being offended, and instructed to lighten up. Even other women and girls will tell you these things – they can laugh at these jokes, so why can’t you? What’s wrong with you?

I have to wonder, why does it matter this much to people whether or not every woman in the world finds being told to get back into the kitchen hilarious? Why are women so thoroughly conditioned to smile at these comments? Why is every other old joke in existence allowed to die off naturally, but this one must be resurrected and everyone pretend to laugh at it over and over again?

Could it be because this joke in particular is sexist? If it was sexist AND funny, I would understand why people are so defensive about it. But the fact that it just isn’t funny anymore simply because of how old it is means there’s only one possible reason to still cling onto this relic of a joke: It’s a socially acceptable way to be openly sexist.

But if you really, truly do find The Kitchen Joke genuinely funny, then I have another absolute zinger for you:

Why did the chicken cross the road?

To get to the other side!    

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

* Only comments that contribute to a constructive debate will be approved by moderators.

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