Dirty jokes are no laughing matter

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Dirty jokes are no laughing matter

I heard that Mr. A, who had a successful career, was relegated to a less important position. He was involved in a sexual harassment case. The demotion did not surprise me because it is not so rare. Mr. A claimed that he felt bad for a female employee, who had been reprimanded by her boss, so he gave her a ride after a dinner outing. To show his support and encouragement, he held her hand and complimented her appearance, he said. Mr. A used to boast that he was popular among female staff members in his office, thanks to his sense of humor and friendly personality.

But when she raised the issue, other female employees demanded strict punishment. They said that Mr. A frequently made sexual jokes and toasts with sexual connotations. He often complimented the appearance of his female co-workers, who felt offended by his attention. They felt uncomfortable that Mr. A, who likes to make sexual remarks, may see them as sexual objects.

Women saw it as a classic case of sexual harassment while men felt differently. They argued that physical contact is unacceptable while jokes were understandable. One insisted, “Sexual jokes could ease tension and elevate the mood, and some women enjoy them as well. But some short-tempered women are offended.”

An owner of a medium-size business who hires many female employees said, “It feels like I’m living with a bomb on my head.”

Another businessman also said, “I would not hire pretty women from interviews.”

I am really curious why they find dirty jokes are funny. I’ve been completely offended by men who openly make sexual remarks more than once. Not just women with short tempers are upset. In a recent interview, former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said that while she did not focus on being denigrated as a woman, she felt “murderous rage.” For example, at a fund-raiser organized by the opposition party during her tenure, the menu offered, “Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail - Small Breasts, Huge Thighs and A Big Red Box.” The opposition party may have thought this was funny. If it was a political attack, they are simply stupid.

Such sexual remarks have been treated as jokes because society has adopted to “male-oriented” tastes. But now, the code has shifted to a “world where men and women live together,” and the jokes that women find insulting have started to create problems. Do men think the world is losing humor? Well, humanity never gave up on fun and humor, so when we get through this transition, we will be able to find jokes that men and women can enjoy together.

*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.


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