Recently, during an episode of Kaun Banega Crorepati 12, the contestant Koshlendra Singh Tomar from Madhya Pradesh appeared on the hot seat. As the Gram Panchayat Secretary, Koshlendra Singh has been working for the betterment and welfare of his village.
Amitabh Bachchan, the host of the show, appreciated his efforts and asked him where would he like to use the prize money. He asked Koshlendra if he will use the prize money for the village, to educate people, or for Dams and to give better facilities to the people living there.
“Sabse pehle ek kaam karunga, meri joh Dharam Patni hai uski Plastic surgery karunga,”
(I will get my wife’s plastic surgery done)
As the reply left Amitabh Bachchan in shock. He asked Singh:
“Plastic surgery but why”.
Koshlendra replied saying,
“15 saal se ek he chehra dekh raha hun.”
To which, Amitabh Bachchan laughed and told his wife to not listen to her husband.
Further clarifying, Koshlendra added that he was just joking.
It made me remember all those husband-wives jokes that my husband and his friends find funny. I wondered how this husband was so comfortable in cracking such a mean joke on his wife’s looks. He didn’t have any qualms in saying this on national television.
His joke stems from the deeply rooted regressive thought-process of treating wives as objects of beauty to please their husbands.
It made me wonder why he didn’t make his own looks at the center of his joke?
Why he didn’t say that he will use the prize money to do plastic surgery on his face as his wife has been looking at the same face for the past 15 years? The language of his joke was crafted in a way that justifies him treating his wife as an object that he owns.
It surprised me how he didn’t find it offensive at all. But, why should he?
We have encountered so many shows and movies, where demeaning sexist jokes are promoted as harmless fun.
Much has already written about the Kapil Sharma brand of humor (a television comedy show). Where a single, old woman must be made fun of. Where a man’s nasty retorts to his wife are the reason for unchecked laughter.
It is saddening how the language of many husband-wives joke justifies the expression of prejudice against women and facilitates the tolerance of sexism. The semantics of a sexist joke is designed in such a way that it communicates the demeaning of women while, at the same, time trivializes sex discrimination under the disguise of harmless fun.
So the next time you receive a sexist joke as a forward, stop. Think. Call it out. Because you know what? It never really is just a joke.
P.s. If you happen to be a woman taking a stand against a sexist joke, you will be told you are overdoing it – “it” is the quest for gender equality. But don’t worry. As per therecent research,asking women not to “make everything about feminism” and making them believe they are overdoing it in demanding equality and respect is, in itself, a more recent manifestation of sexist behavior.
So, don’t get bothered when someone says – “Stop making everything about feminism”! They are scared of you demanding equality and respect!