How many [members of stereotyped group] does it take to screw in a light bulb?

[Number]! One to screw it in, and [the rest] to [perform stereotypical actions of group]! HAHAHAHA.

I’ve written about this before, but a lot of humor relies on truly unfortunate stereotypes. A LOT. Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ableism, sizeism, it’s all there in spades. And you know what, folks, it’s not funny.

Humor is supposed to highlight the absurdity of the system. You know “jesters”? They were the only ones who could speak absolute truth, with no bullshit and no repercussions, because they use humor. Humor exists for us to cope with difficult things, by revealing the truth.

You know what’s not true, folks? That women are just too complicated for men to understand! Or that black people are just too stupid to be respected! Or that being transgendered is somehow an expression of confusion! Or any other tired, old stereotype that people trot out as jokes. I hate to break it to you, unfunny people of the world, but folks may laugh when you tell your “jokes,” but they’re not good jokes.

Often when feminists and other progressives complain about terrible jokes, we’re asked, “What, so we just can’t make jokes about X at all? Censorship!” but the thing is, you can make a joke about anything… as long as you’re careful with who is the butt of your jokes. You can tell jokes about women and high heels, as long as the punchline isn’t “woman and their shoez are so stupid.” You can tell jokes about black people on welfare, as long as the struggling welfare recipients are the ones who’d laugh at it. You can even tell jokes about rape, as long as you’re jabbing at the rapists, or maybe our rape culture. (“Joking” about how you want to fuck a woman to death doesn’t count.* )

Shakesville, as always, has spoken eloquently on the topic: Off-Limits Humor. It’s all about who is laughing. Here’s a hint: you don’t want the rapists laughing and the victims crying. You want it the other way around.

A good joke is innovative, surprising. It doesn’t reinforce the status quo in exactly the same way the status quo is always reinforced.

A good joke comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.

A good joke reveals the universality of the human condition.

So, this is a bad joke. And so is this. And this. And any joke that bolsters the idea that the “default human” is a straight white able-bodied cisgendered thin man.

Unfortunately, they’re also most jokes. So let’s break this trend, folks. Tell me a joke that contains no form of bigotry! Let’s laugh at our society!

I’ll start: there are two muffins in an oven. The the first muffin says, “Wow, it’s hot in here!” The second muffin says, “OMG A TALKING MUFFIN!!!”

There. I made that joke up when I was six. It’s not so hard.

Now, your turn!

(*This was an Opie & Anthony joke (I think) a year ago (?) but now I can’t find any feminist sites talking about it. I don’t want to link to the original because it’s abhorrent. Anyone know?)

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3 Responses to How many [members of stereotyped group] does it take to screw in a light bulb?

  1. dollyann says:

    It’s 1:40 in the morning and I’m too lazy to think of jokes, but I will say you’re spot on when it comes to what’s funny and what’s not. It always depends on who’s laughing and why. George Carlin did a skit on it once, telling people that rape could be funny, but even then I was skeptical. Unless the rape victims can laugh along, something’s not right.

    Oh, and your muffin joke is adorable. 😛

  2. fremenalex says:

    Just because I like you, I’ll give you 3 jokes (yes! 3 jokes!)

    1. Baking joke:
    Why did the cookie go to the doctor? Cuz she was feeling crumby. (I like your baking joke much much better)

    2. Seasonal joke:
    What do you get when you goose a ghost?
    A handful of sheet.

    3. Nerdy joke that only science geeks (me) would laugh at:

    Hydrogen #1: OMG OMG, I just lost an electron!!!!
    Hydrogen #2: Are you sure?
    Hydrogen #1: Of course I’m sure. I’m positive!!!

  3. eloriane says:

    Oh man, I love your hydrogen joke!

    And in the spirit of your cookie pun:

    “I wondered why the baseball kept getting closer and closer. Then it hit me.”

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