Yesterday on a message board I frequent, someone posted a link to a computer keyboard designed for blondes. As you might imagine, it's Barbie pink in color and has re-labelled keys so that the dumb blondes can figure out how to make it work. The person who posted the link challenged the other board members to buy this product for their spouses. This got me thinking....

I posted a message asking why it is acceptable to tell blonde jokes when it's generally considered unacceptable to post/tell jokes that denigrate racial groups, for example. Of course, I was informed that I just need to get a sense of humor and to remove the chip off my shoulder. I imagine that was probably what black people were told when "nigger" jokes were the thing to tell. I realize these jokes and all other jokes which denigrate or debase "others" are considered very funny by the people telling them. I must, however, disagree with the message board member who said that when these jokes are told in the proper spirit, they actually build harmony and cooperation between groups. I would imagine that board member has never been a member of the race, religion, gender, etc. being denigrated by the group. If he had, he might have experienced the destruction of harmony and inclusion and the feeling of alienation that comes with being the butt of a joke.

The primary argument about why blonde jokes and other jokes about women are acceptable is because jokes are told that bash men and that I can't have it both ways. I replied that I don't, in fact, think that any bashing jokes are acceptable. I don't care if you're male, female, black, Asian, lesbian, Jewish, Catholic or Norwegian. I don't think humor is dependent upon reinforcing stereotypes and putting "others" down. There are plenty of good jokes available that don't do either of those things, just as there are plenty of good words for eloquently expressing how you feel about a situation without resorting to swear words. Having to rely on bashing jokes and swear words is an indicator to me that a person simply hasn't got a particularly large vocabulary (or else is mad enough that the only words that come to mind are swear words).

The comment that irked me the most was the one that "everybody tells bashing jokes". Just because a practice is common doesn't make it right. Segregation was once a common practice. So was slavery and wife beating.

I don't care if "everybody" is doing it, if I think it's wrong, I'm going to say something. I am done with sitting in the corner and silently letting things I think are wrong go by. I believe that most of the crap like this (the bashing and denigrating of others) is done mindlessly. People are just parroting what they heard from others without thinking about what they're saying. I believe this is why several of my co-workers bash our clients and, by extension, themselves when they say "well everybody around here is stupid and can't learn". It's what they heard other people say and they don't think about what it actually sounds like or about what they are actually saying. This becomes particularly bad when kids hear the mindless negative speech and begin to copy it. The kids don't think about what they're saying, they just repeat it and it gets reinforced in their heads. Kids learn that blondes are cute but stupid, that Jews are tight-fisted money freaks and that blacks are lazy. Of course these are misleading and false stereotypes, but they're reinforced by the stupid bashing jokes.

So, from here on out, I'm going to work on positive ways of excusing myself from the bashing and pointing out that the bashing is inappropriate at work. I don't know how well this will work, given the prevalence and frequency of negative comments, but I'll give it a try. I expect plenty of resistance, since changing behavior would mean the co-workers would have to admit to themselves that they might be wrong and they might have to stretch their minds a bit. I'll keep at it anyway until I find some place else to work.

Caffeine is Still Evil

And I'm just finishing off a pot of coffee at Denny's as I type this. You'd think that a fairly intelligent, college edumacated person such as myself would know better than to stand at the top of that slippery slope while wearing roller skates. Alas, I apparently do not. I'll cut back tomorrow, I promise. I can quit at any time. I don't have a problem.

Words of Advice....
When going to the gym, it is generally advisable to bring pants.

Normally, I go to the gym before I go to work and take my work clothes with me. In order to keep from crumpling up my pants, I take them to the gym on a hangar. Today, however, I didn't have to go to work because today is Veteran's Day. So I didn't put my pants on a hangar and I didn't put pants in my gym bag because pants don't go in the gym bag. This could have made getting dressed after my workout and shower interesting. Fortunately something in the back of my head pointed out that I might be missing half my clothes and I added a pair of jeans to my bag before I left the house. It wouldn't have been completely disastrous as I could have always just put my warm-up pants back on afterward. (I work out in shorts and only wear the pants to keep warm between the car and the gym, so they're actually clean.)

Today's workout was an extra long walk and weight circuit. I got a later start than usual so didn't see any of the usual crew, except for the voting day guy I talked with. He was just finishing up his 4 mile walk and chattering away. I will have to compliment him some day soon for his cheerfulness and big smile. As he left, he joked that the treadmill said his four mile walk had burned about 350 calories. The man on the other side of him said "Hey, now you can have a sausage biscuit!" which drew laughs from all of us.

Veterans' Day
Today is the day the US has chosen to honor its military veterans. I always take the opportunity to call or e-mail the veterans I know and say thank you. Several years ago, I sent an e-mail to Professor Erwin Small, DVM thanking him for his military service and telling him Happy Birthday for the US Marine Corps. I was inspired to do this after I saw a military service badge on his car commemorating Iwo Jima. I was pretty certain that Dr. Small might have been at Iwo Jima and I was right. A few days after I sent the e-mail, Dr. Small came down the hallway to find me and thank me. He sat and chatted with me for a little while. When he left, he informed me that if I ever needed anything, I should absolutely let him know. Every time we passed each other in the hallway, we'd wave at each other and say hello.

To me, Dr. Small resembled a bit of a fireplug, which seems to be common among older, retired Marines. He was a bit gruff sounding, but very personable, which is probably why he did so well in public affairs and outreach at the College of Veterinary Medicine. On numerous occasions I was asked if I knew "Irv" Small when I was traveling across the state. Everybody who met him had great things to say about him. Oddly enough, a number of faculty and students in the College thought he was unpleasant and grumpy. I never got that impression, but I think it scared my advisor when Dr. Small told him that I was a good egg and to take care of me.

So, on this Veterans' Day, consider contacting the veterans you know, be they old or young, and thank them for their service.


KWT a.k.a. "Sushi 2" said…
Speaking of contacting vets you know... I no longer seem to have any valid contact info (including an email address) for you. So, if you'd still like to occasionally hear from me, please drop me an email (at my old Illinois email address) sometime.

P.S.: We're sending warm happy thoughts your way from Iowa
Ruby Louise said…
Hey! It's my favorite Navy Man! *SQUEE*! E-mail (or three) on the way... :-)

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