Sunday, February 3, 2013

Tazi's Corner #30 - The Inherent Sexism of The "Blonde Joke"

Dear Readers:

Something happened a few weeks ago that has my Mommie seeing red! She needed to blog the anger out of her system, and since my blog gets tens of thousands of more hits than hers, I decided it was in my best interest to lend her this space (an angry Mommie means less kitty snax for me!). --T.K.

The Inherent Sexism Of the "Blonde Joke"
by Tazi's Mommie

I hold an Associates degree in General Science and a Bachelors degree in Communications. I am finishing the final requirements of two more Bachelors degrees, in Biology and in Gender and Women’s Studies at the prestigious University of Rhode Island. I am a member of four academic honor societies – Phi Theta Kappa; Phi Eta Sigma; the Golden Key Society and Omicron Delta Kappa, the last of which requires members to hold leadership positions in addition to having a ridiculously high grade point average. While on the subject, I’d like to mention that my cumulative GPA is a 3.72 (on 4.0 scale) and I will be graduating summa cum laude this spring. All of this means nothing, though, when people first meet me. It means nothing because I am blonde. I am natural blonde. I am also shapely, attractive, and have a bubbly personality which means when people first meet me they automatically want to deduct about 80 IQ points, deciding that because I fit the “blonde joke” stereotype I must have the intellectual capacity of Forrest Gump.

Blonde jokes are one of the last remaining vestiges of a time when it was socially acceptable to insult someone based upon an incorrect stereotype. We have all heard the jokes – the Truly Tasteless Jokes series of books has them cataloged by subject – and perhaps we even tell them, behind closed doors, among close friends and family who we believe will not judge us. How many of you who tell these jokes are willing to post a joke about the “cheap Jew” or the “ignorant Black man” to your Facebook page? Are the jokes you tell in private no longer funny when they result in the court of public opinion judging you unfavorably?

Blonde jokes have bothered me since I was a teenager. I considered fighting back by telling brunette jokes – they exist, and are very nasty – but, in the end, these jokes simply feed into the stereotypes that blonde jokes promote. “Who makes bras for brunettes?” (Answer: Fisher-Price) feeds the stereotype that only blondes have curves like Marilyn Monroe. Doesn't anyone remember her Gentlemen Prefer Blondes co-star Jane Russell? Yes, Marilyn Monroe played the role of the dumb blonde on several occasions, but that was sixty years ago! Haven’t we evolved as a society since that time? Girls, it is no longer cool to play dumb; it was never cool to be a slut.

Slut? Yes, slut. Another feature of the blonde joke is rampant sexual promiscuity. “How does a blonde turn on the lights after having sex?” (Answer: She opens the car door). This joke – and jokes like it – plays to the assumption that blondes are more likely than brunettes or redheads to have one-night stands in parking lots with men they have just met. I searched, and found not one shred of evidence to support this idea – in fact, one study showed that participants judged brunettes with tattoos to be heavier drinkers and more sexually promiscuous than blondes without tattoos! Another study reveals that it is artificial blondes [i.e. brunettes and redheads posing as blondes] that men judge to be of looser moral character. Are those blonde jokes still amusing to you? Before you answer, let me take this argument one step further: Have you noticed that all blonde jokes are about women?

Think of a blonde joke – any one, it doesn't matter if the blonde portrayed is stupid, promiscuous, or acting like an entitled brat, so long as the subject of the joke is a blonde. Is the blonde in the joke a man or a woman? What did you picture in your head?  If the joke is written down, does it refer to the blonde with the pronoun “he” or “she”? Now, thinking of the same joke, I want you to change the hair color to your own (natural) color. Is the joke still funny? How about when you exchange the hair color for the generic term “woman” or “girl”? Are you still laughing? Or is the sexism now blatant enough for you to see?

Some would argue that former V.P. Dan Quayle is a male blonde joke
(he's more of a blonde, male joke)

 If you are still laughing at your own debasing humor, and you still have the urge to tell blonde jokes, please replace the woman’s description one of your mother, your sister, your wife or girlfriend or another woman you hold dear; maybe then this message will get through to you. Still laughing? Then make yourself the subject of the joke, and have a laugh at your own expense.

To those who want to stand up and make things right, I thank you, but please...don’t take a “Polish joke” and turn it into a “male blonde” joke. This misled attempt to even the playing field is like fighting fire with marshmallows. A marshmallow thrown into the fire does nothing to harm the fire; it only turns into something that brings smiles and laughter. So, too, does the person who attempts to fight sexism with a joke.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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