The bystander interventions we teach at the Men’s Anti-Violence Council deal with confronting attitudes, lanaguage and behaviors that are inappropriate, offensive or potentially violent. Some of the most resistance we experience occurs when we discuss confronting jokes and sexist language. I’ve lost count of how many times I have heard “It’s just a joke. I wasn’t serious” “Lighten up” “What’s the big deal, there aren’t any women around.” My personal rationale for intervening is that if you have the right to say something offensive, then at the very least I have the right to comment on how it affected me. However, recent research has shown that sexist humor results in concrete negative behaviors by male participants.
Two research studies conducted by Western Carolina University in 2008 tested the effects of sexist humor on male participants. After viewing or reading sexist humor, male participants donated significantly less money to a national women’s orgranization and were significantly more likely to cut the budget of the women’s center in a hypothetical scenario over other student groups. Visit Science Daily to get more information or read the original article.