Sexism passed off as banter, since when did it become acceptable?

Welcome to 2013. We may be the most socially and technically advanced that we have ever been as a species yet some men still find it acceptable to say rude, inappropriate and demeaning things to women passing it off as – here comes my least favourite word – ‘banter’. What I want to know though is just when exactly did this become socially acceptable?

Take a look on the internet and you will see examples of men passing off lewd comments and downright offensive things towards women with a laugh and joke and if we get annoyed, it is clearly our fault because we’re too uptight, not because their views are out of date and out of touch with not just the majority of society’s views but also common decency. Ever since I started following @EverydaySexism on Twitter I’ve been shocked by the recounts of stories from women who have experienced sexist comments and actions mainly from random men on the street. Not only are there accounts from women but there are men’s opinions on this behaviour [all of which shocked that fellow members of their sex act in that way towards females in this day and age] but also accounts from men of sexism towards them, we have to remember sexism is not always a one way street.

Boris Johnson’s recent comments about women only going to university because they have to find a husband has not helped matters at all, infuriating many in the process but as usual he laughed it off as if he hadn’t said anything wrong. See also many of his previous comments from over the years all catalogued on the internet including last year’s comment about the volleyball players at the Olympics and their attire.

Don’t get me wrong I love a laugh and a joke as much as the next person and I’m not uptight to the point of never having fun but there is a point where a line has to be drawn the point when what someone has just said or done is offensive/disgusting/inappropriate. Knowing where to draw the line is something people need to learn and be aware of, not just when it comes to sexism but also subjects such as race, religion and disabilities too.

What is more annoying than the offensive comment is when it is passed it off as a funny remark that we should all be laughing along with and if we don’t then it is our own fault for not finding it funny. Since when did it become my problem that you saying something offensive makes me angry or upset rather than hysterical with laughter? Trying to make the point why you don’t find it funny also usually leads to Cameron-esque ‘Calm Down Dear’ comments but as Grace Dent said in her brilliant must read article on sexism in The Independent last week; ‘Are you a man who bellows, “DON’T GET HYSTERICAL!” if a woman is trying to make a point. Congrats, you’re a sexist berk.’ Further examples of that behaviour can be found on this series of The Apprentice with the women spoken down to and while trying to make points and pitches being interrupted by the male colleagues.

I’d just like to point out that I don’t hate all you men and this isn’t me having a moan at you, this is aimed at the sexist idiots pushing back equality for women through ‘funny comments’. So to those few, I am a woman and shock horror I do have a sense of humour. I like to have fun and throw a few funny comments out there of my own but if you say something or do something I deem offensive especially towards me then don’t be surprised if I get annoyed with you instead of laughing because I have the right to let you know if I find something distasteful and that’s not me being an uptight woman, that is me being a civil and moral human being who’s fed up of your ‘banter’.

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